What do you know about the Italian comfort food, Lasagne?
For me, I know it is very cheesy and can be quite a heavy food. We attended as a family of 3 to an Italian boy’s 5th birthday party in October. It was a transportation theme party but his mother made this infamous Lasagne as one of the party food items.
Wow. Never imagined this food to be presented at a children’s party though I know Italians celebrate very well with their great variety of Italian food from cakes to bakeries and the pasta dishes. I tasted the difference it made and thus I decided to give a go at making my own pasta sheets for the Lasagne as well as the Bechamel sauce from scratch.
From scratch for Lasagna Pasta Sheets means, I handmade with 3 eggs and 400g of flour, salt, one tablespoon of Olive oil and about half a cup of water. I let the dough rested for about 30minutes before I rolled them to thin sheets with my pasta machine.
To be really honest, this is one of the greatest investment in making a good lasagne. With a pot of hot boiling water, add a teaspoon of salt, place gently the sheets (maximum 2 at a time), for about 2 minutes to cook the lasagna pasta sheets.
Besides making fresh pasta noodles, for the first time, I made the Bechamel sauce as one of the layers called for this amazing sauce. Béchamel sauce, the Mother of sauces, is also known as white sauce. It is made from a white roux (butter and flour) and milk. This is the ‘magic’ in this Lasagna, honestly, it made the whole lot of difference in all the Lasagne dishes I have ever tried. It simply made the dish lighter (not heavy), and very addictive.
Today’s version of lasagne was made using one can of Heinz Tomato Pasta sauce (with basil and sun-dried tomatoes). Straight from the can. I lightly brown some diced onions and added the 350g of minced beef (In Estonia, they are called ‘Kodune-hakkliha’ and I bought mine from ‘Saaremaa’ brand) pork (50%), beef (50%), and has fat content less than 30 per cent. Collagen/animal protein ratio below 18. When this mixture is cooked, I sprinkled some Oregano spices and ground about 3/4 of it to smaller bits with a food processor. Then combined it back to the 1/4 for some ‘texture’ in the taste.
Then for the cheese layer, I used the Valio Cheddar slices. What I know is ‘Valio’ is a Finnish brand. So now the layering begins when all the ingredients are prepared, ready to assemble. I started with a large casserole, lightly butter the whole base but for today’s case, I used a large piece of baking paper to prevent any sticking. Then the first layer of the pasta sheets, a layer of tomato sauce with the minced meat followed by the third layer, the Bechamel sauce. Fourth layer cheese and then repeat. After about 6 repeats, you should be ready to place the entire casserole to bake in a 190 deg C preheated oven for 25 minutes. Viola!