As I have promised Michele that I will post my lasagne recipe. It took some weeks, but here I am!
It's basic, very simple south Italian style recipe. Few things I modified from what I have learned from friends in Naples, Italy. The most important change is that I omitted fresh ricotta entirely. Neapolitans mix the fresh ricotta with parmesan and make another layer in between cubed mozzarella and grated parmesan. For me it's just too much and I don't even like ricotta! Another thing, they traditionally use full fat ground beef and fresh pork sausages (skin removed) to make the meat sauce. Again, too heavy for me.
Lasagne- my version
For making the sauce:
Ground beef 500g (or 250g ground beef + 250 g ground pork. I always use super lean ground beef)
Tamato passata sauce 1.5 bottle (1 bottle is 700g, the brand I use is “Val verde”)
1 medium carrot finely grated
½ of a medium onion finely chopped
1 glass of red wine (optional, but it makes a difference!)
Fresh basil (3-4 leaves)
Olive oil (1-2 tablespoon)
For layering lasagne:
Fresh egg-based lasagne sheet (try to use fresh ones that don’t need pre-boiling)
Fresh mozzarella cut into small cubes (you need probably 2-3 medium sized mozzarella balls)
Grated parmesan (whatever amount you need to cover 3-4 layers)
1. Heat the olive oil slightly in a tall stock pot, add the onions and stir until translucent/slightly golden. Add the grated carrot and continue stirring until soften, add small amount of water if needed.
2. Once the onion and carrot mixture are softened enough, add the ground meat. Break them into small pieces while stirring. Cover the pot with lid for 5-7 minutes in between stirring. Add salt. Once the meat is no more pink and the water released by meat is almost evaporated, add the red wine. Keep the pot covered while stirring occasionally until the red wine evaporates. It should take another 7-10 min.
3. Add the passata sauce and stir well. Put the stove into low to medium heat and cover the pot keeping lid slightly open. Stir the sauce every 15-20 min so that it doesn’t burn in the bottom. It should stay on stove for another 1-1.5 hr depending on how thick was your passata. Once the sauce thickens even more, lower the heat and add basil leaves. Check the salt, then if you are happy with the thickness of the sauce, it is ready.
4. Check the instruction on your lasagne pack and preheat the oven according to the temperature written. Usually it is something between 180-200C.
5. Take a deep rectangular pan and brush it with oil. I use a 24x20cm pan that can serve 4 people.
6. Add very small amount of sauce just to colour the bottom of the pan, you don’t really need to cover it entirely in the bottom. Add lasagne sheets and cover them completely with meat sauce. Distribute cube mozzarella evenly and cover with grated parmesan. Repeat the procedure 2-3 more times depending on how many layers of lasagne you want. I prefer 4 layers.
7. Bake it in the oven for the time written in the lasagne pack. It’s usually 20-30 min for fresh egg-based lasagne sheets. You can always check with a toothpick if it’s done or not.
8. Take it out of the oven and let it sit for 10 min. There you go, “le lasagne sono pronte! Buon appetito!”
Notes: For the size of pan I described; you will have leftover sauce that you can refrigerate/freeze.