When I make lasagne, I make two. I make up the same meat sauce, and bechamel, and make them gluten free. Then I make a “regular” lasagne for those of us in the house who aren’t coeliac, then I make another, smaller one with gluten free lasagne sheets for himself. If you don’t need to make a gluten free lasagne, you can just make it up with these sauces, but use regular pasta. This quantity serves four to six people, depending on how hungry you are and what you serve on the side.
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
Stalk of celery (including leaves) sliced finely
750g mince beef
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp ground ginger (my mother’s idea)
Additional water as needed (I put water into the passata bottle and swish it around and keep it handy)
2 tbsp gluten free plain flour
1 litre milk (I have also used a mixture of cream and milk, if you have some cream you want to use up, it makes the bechamel thick and creamy)
200g tasty cheese, diced finely
30g parmesan, cut into small pieces
Dried lasagne sheets as needed (you will need at least one box)
Small quantity of grated tasty cheese to top
First, get the meat sauce simmering on the stove top. Heat the oil in a large, heavy based saucepan, and fry the onion, garlic and celery until the onion has softened a little. Add the minced beef and stir to break up any lumps. When it is slightly browned, add the spices, tomato paste and passata, and stir. I then add water as required, just enough to stop the meat sticking to the bottom. Keep the water handy in case you need to top up. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, and allow to simmer at least half an hour.
Once the meat is simmering, you can preheat the oven to 180 celcius if fan forced, 200 if not.
To make up the bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a heavy based pan. Take off the heat and stir in the flour, then return to the heat and allow to bubble (it should take about a minute). Then remove from the heat and whisk in the milk so the mixture is smooth. Allow to heat through, then put the cheeses in and stir while they melt (you can also play with the mixture of cheese – keep the amount the same, but adjust the type of cheeses to your personal taste). Once melted, set aside.
Gather your dishes, when the meat mixture is ready you assemble the tiers as follows – meat, pasta, meat, bechamel, and so on. You should be able to go up about three layers with this mixture. Top with extra grated cheese and cover. (Use foil if your dish doesn’t have a lid). If I have made up two dishes, I put the larger in for about 3/4 of an hour, and the smaller for 1/2 an hour.
I use the meat sauce as described above as a bolognese sauce as well. So if I am really organised (not all that often) I make up a double batch and freeze one. I have lasagne when I am in the mood for cooking, and on another night when I might be pressed for time, I can just defrost the bolognese sauce and quickly boil up some pasta to go with it.
If you end up with bechamel sauce left over you can use it to dress vegetables – as in asparagus in bechamel.