When it comes to Lasagna, I’m an unrepentant food snob.
Remember when you were a child, eyeballing the lump of something that appeared on a weekly basis in the school cafeteria? Well, odds are that ‘thing’ was a lump of cold, congealed, slimy Lasagna.
Gazing at that mess as an impressionable youth, I resolved then and there to never eat ready-made Lasagna again! Henceforth I would toil away in my own kitchen and make it with my own bare hands.
Through years of trial and error – including some very awesome vegetarian versions and some rather boozy ones when I got a bit too liberal with the red wine – I have perfected this hearty cheesy incarnation of the Italian classic.
And thankfully it bears no resemblance to cafeteria food. My inner child is delighted.
Three Cheese Lasagna (serves 6)
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 large, white onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bird’s eye chili, finely sliced
- 1 tbsp EVOO
- 1 tsp fresh or dried oregano
- 1 tsp fresh or dried basil
- 1 fresh or dried rosemary
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 3 tbsps tomato paste
- 1/4 cup beef stock
- 8oz cream cheese (at room temp)
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
- 1 tbsps milk
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan
- 1 packet wholewheat lasagna pasta sheets
- Fry the onion, garlic and chili in olive oil until the onion turns golden. Add the beef, breaking it into chunks with your spoon and fry ’til it browns.
- Stir in the herbs, tomatoes, tomato paste and beef stock. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes over a medium-low heat.
- With a slated spoon (so you can drain off any excess moisture) transfer roughly half of the beef mixture to an 8×8 casserole dish. Distribute it so it is an even layer on the bottom of the dish.
- Now comes the fun part: place a layer of pasta sheets over the top of the beef mixture. It’s kind of like a jigsaw – don’t be afraid to break up the pieces to fit. Don’t overlap any, just line them as close as they will go so there is a single layer of pasta over the beef.
- Repeat the process to create another layer. It should go: beef, pasta, beef, pasta. Set aside for a few minutes while you work on the cheese.
- In a small saucepan, over a low heat, melt the cream cheese together with the milk for 2-3 minutes until it forms a sticky, pliable goo. Stir in half the grated cheddar.
- Carefully spoon the cheese sauce on top of the lasagna so it creates an even top layer. When you’ve used up all the cheese, sprinkle over the remaining cheddar and the parmesan. Finish off with a spattering of oregano and black pepper.
- Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.