LasagneThis anytime dish is my own contribution to I Love Good Food. Created for an earlier Irish Heart Foundation recipe booklet, this variation on classic lasagne uses everyday store cupboard items where possible, and low-fat ingredients and cooking methods provide a healthier alternative without losing flavour.

For an even healthier alternative, you could be less generous with the Parmesan or even use low-fat cheese.

Serves 6

Preparation time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 2 hours

what you need

For the meat sauce

450g (1lb) lean minced beef
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
375ml (13fl oz) beef or chicken stock
2 x 400g (14oz) tins chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon tomato purée

For the white sauce

600ml (1 pint) low-fat milk, plus 3 tablespoons
1 small onion, peeled and studded with 3 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons cornflour
1 teaspoon mustard
12 dried lasagne sheets
3 tablespoons freshly grated
Parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper

salad, to serve

what you do

Heat a large saucepan over a moderate heat, add the minced beef and break it down with a wooden spoon. Keep moving the mince around until the meat is lightly browned.

Drain off any excess fat, then add the onion, garlic, celery and carrot and cook gently for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are softening, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock and bring to the boil. Cook for another couple of minutes, stirring.

Add the tomatoes, oregano, bay leaf, tomato purée and 120ml (4fl oz) of water. Season lightly with pepper and stir well, then simmer very gently for about an hour until a thick sauce is produced, stirring occasionally and adding a little water if the mixture seems to be drying out.

To make the white sauce, rinse a pan with cold water and then add the 600ml (1 pint) of low-fat milk, the clove-studded onion and the bay leaf. To allow the flavours to penetrate the milk, slowly bring to the boil then remove from the heat and leave for 15 minutes. Strain.

Blend together the cornflour and the remaining three tablespoons of low-fat milk, then gradually add the strained milk. Return to the pan and cook over a moderate heat, stirring all the time to make a smooth sauce. Add mustard and season lightly with black pepper,

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

To assemble the lasagne, spread a thin layer of the meat sauce in the bottom of an ovenproof dish that is about 28 x 20cm (11.5 x 8ins). Arrange a single layer of pasta sheets over the sauce. Top this with another layer of the meat sauce, then a layer of white sauce and a light sprinkling of Parmesan.

Repeat layers as before, finishing with a layer of pasta and keeping some of the white sauce to top the pasta. Sprinkle lightly with Parmesan and bake for about 45 minutes until bubbling and golden brown.

Bring straight to the table in its dish and serve with salad.

typical nutritional content - per portion

Energy Kcal (Calories) 420
Fat(g) 11. 8, of which saturates (g) 5.4
Salt (g) 1.1
Sugars (g) 15.7

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