Welcome to the very first blog post by A Dietitian and a Photographer! What better way to kick it off than with one of the world’s most-loved dishes, the lasagna. Today, July 29th, is World Lasagna Day. It seems like every food has it’s own dedicated day, but I think the humble lasagna is possibly the most deserving.
My Mum (Love you Chris!) has been crowned the best lasagna maker in the world. This title was handed down by my Dad, my brothers and I. Granted none of us have ever been to Italy, it’s still a very prestigious title. You see, Mum’s lasagna is a special thing. Whenever we’re going home to Mum and Dad’s, Mum will ask what we would like her to cook and 99% of the time the answer is lasagna. We sit down together at the table, most often with a glass of wine, and catch up on the latest gossip in the Bentley family. In that moment, not only are we enjoying each others company over a delicious lasagna, but we are also reminded of all the love and lasagnas that we’ve been given throughout our lives. Mum isn’t just giving us lasagna, it’s much more than that.
I don’t make my lasagna the same as Mum does, I figure I’d never do it as well. I also have a habit of trying to put vegetables in recipes wherever I can. This is usually a good habit, but it sometimes frustrates my husband. He got very excited one day when I made ‘Red Velvet Cupcakes’, only to bite in and find they were beetroot cupcakes. He was bitterly disappointed and, to be honest, the cupcakes were nothing like a delicious red velvet cake, so I could understand why. My lasagna is a mix between a regular beef lasagna and a vegetable lasagna. There’s nothing special about it, it’s simple but hopefully delicious. I have a very volatile relationship with white sauce, so if I don’t feel like risking making a bad batch sometimes I’ll just use ricotta cheese and thin it out with a little milk. Feel free to do the same, although hopefully white sauce is more obliging to you than it is to me!
This lasagna has been made for catch-ups with friends, friends who have just had a baby and friends or family who are unwell. Again, it’s not just a lasagna. It’s my way of showing them that I care.
A lasagna is never just a lasagna.
- Half a small butternut pumpkin, thinly sliced
- 1 capsicum, cut into quarters
- 1 eggplant, thinly sliced
- Olive oil
- 1 brown onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 400g beef mince
- 1 can of lentils, rinsed and drained
- 1 jar of tomato passata
- Handful of fresh basil
- 50g butter
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- 2 and a 1/2 cups milk
- Packet of fresh lasagna sheets
- Handful of grated cheese
Preheat the oven to 200C. Drizzle some olive oil on a baking tray and place the pumpkin and capsicum on the tray in a single layer. Brush the top of the veggies with olive oil. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden and tender. Cook the eggplant in a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat until golden and soft. Set the cooked eggplant, pumpkin and capsicum aside. Turn the oven down to 180C.
Fry the onion and garlic in a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, until starting to soften. Add the mince, breaking apart into small chunks. Cook until just browned. Add the lentils and passata and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until the mixture is bubbling. Gradually add in the milk while stirring. Bring just to the boil, then turn down the heat and stir until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool slightly.
Now it’s time to assemble the lasagna. I tend to put a very thin layer of the beef mixture at the bottom. Then layer pasta, white sauce to generously coat the pasta, one third of the beef mixture and one of the vegetables. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and finish with a layer of pasta, white sauce and cheese.
Bake at 180C for about 40 minutes, or until the pasta is soft and the cheese is browned. I like to serve with a salad and some garlic bread. Yell out to your family/friends that dinner is ready and you’re all set! Enjoy!