Beef & Vegetable Lasagne
:: Megann’s Kitchen ::
|:: a healthy lasagne about to go in the oven for baking ::|
“It’s your birthday Megann, what would you like for dinner” Mum would ask every year. “Lasagne please” I would always answer. The dessert would vary between traditional American Lemon Meringue & Caramel Meringue pies. I know mum would continuously be surprised as lasagne is a bit pedestrian to have as a special birthday dish for dinner, but for me, it was my go-to comfort food. “Lasagne it is” she would say, and for about 6 years running, that is what I had.
I now make it a lot in our household. I love it, my husband loves it & most importantly, my toddler son loves it. I have adapted mum’s recipe with my son’s nutritional intake in mind to include as many vegetables as possible that I can pack into it without it tasting vegetarian. I tend to look in the fridge, get out an array of vegetables that need using up which will complement the dish and go to town. Sure, lasagne may take a bit of time but if you make it in large quantities, which I do, you can freeze any leftovers for emergency or toddler meals.
This recipe is also perfect for friends in need. This particular lasagne I made one dreary & rainy day to take over to my friend Heidi’s house just after she had her baby. It would be the perfect new mother’s comfort food, full of nutrition & energy for someone recovering from hospital. Enjoy my cheesy hidden vegetable version!
750 grams beef mince
2 Tbs olive oil
1 brown onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 large carrot, grated
1 large zucchini, grated
½ cup diced button mushrooms
½ cup red wine
1½ cups beef stock
1 800 gram tin diced tomatoes
1 jar of passata
salt & pepper to taste
4 Tbs butter
4 Tbs plain flour
4 cups milk
200 grams cheddar cheese & 50 grams parmesan cheese mix
salt & pepper to taste
Instant Lasagna Sheets
baby spinach, washed & roughly chopped
Tasty cheddar cheese
:: makes 1 x-large lasagne dish
|:: adding the vegetables to the mince ::|
|:: a lovely, healthy bolognaise sauce ::|
Heat oil in a deep dish saucepan and add the diced onion. Sauté over a low heat, stirring until just transparent and smelling fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic & cook for another 2-3 minutes. Increase the heat & add the beef mince, browning it & breaking it up to a fine mince as you go. Add the carrot, zucchini & mushrooms & cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the red wine & reduce for 3 minutes. Add beef stock & continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes & also stir through the passata, season, cover, and simmer gently 30-45 minutes. Keep an eye on your moisture levels & check on it, stirring every 10 minutes or so.
|:: spinach- full of iron & oh so tastey! ::|
Melt butter into a saucepan over low heat & stir in the flour. It should be a wet, sloppy dough consistency. Stir for about 2-3 minutes or until you get the fragrance of cookies from the flour, this means your flour is cooked & ready. Don’t let it change colour too much. Remove from the stovetop, gradually whisk in some milk until it thickens, then add some more milk and whisk until it re-thickens. Return to low heat. Keep on gradually adding the milk while whisking until you have a smooth, thick creamy mixture. Gradually add the cheese & when the cheese melts, add more. As you get towards the end, I like to taste the “cheesiness” of my sauce to see if I need to add more. Season with salt & pepper.
|:: layering the lasagne ::|
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Pre-prepare a large lasagne dish by lightly greasing it with butter. Place approx ¾ cup of the meat sauce on the base of the dish. Alternate between layers of lasagne sheets, meat sauce, cheese sauce & baby spinach, finishing with a cheese & spinach layer. Your dish should take 4-5 layers. Sprinkle with cheese & bake for 45-50 minutes or until cooked through. Rest for at least 10-15 minutes before serving.
:: You can prepare & assemble your lasagne up to a day in advance as the flavours that are released through the pasta are exceptional!
:: Resting your Lasagne allows excess moisture to seep into the pasta sheets so it holds form to avoid serving a sloppy mess.
:: Any leftover sauce, I freeze for toddler meals.
For Needy People
:: When I made my lasagne for Heidi, I prepared & assembled the dish in the morning then refrigerated it. When it was our time to visit the baby, I popped it in a travel bag & as soon as I arrived at the house I continued on with the cooking process in the oven. You could also bake it at home for freezing or reheating when needed. It’s a meal for the whole family to enjoy + leftovers!
I would also love to see your Megann's Kitchen Creations/photos of recipes that you have made on Megann’s Kitchen Facebook!