Trapped at home with the builders…so I made a lasagne!

If you have ever experienced a house full of builders, drilling, banging, knocking, and shouting (loudly!) then you’ll understand my need to lock  myself away and not come out till it’s their home time. This has been my life for the past two weeks and whilst in my saner moments I am able to walk around and envisage how beautiful my home will be one day there are also the grizzly moments, like today, where it’s raining, it’s dark, it’s dreary and oh so cold and I am trapped in a house flanked with scaffolding where I can only open a couple of shutters for light. So where else to take refuge but the kitchen?

Luckily for me the builders finished in the kitchen earlier this morning leaving me free to hide out and make nice with the oven for some much needed warmth. From the glacial 17 degrees of my living room to a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees…paradise. So what to cook? That is the question? But for me there is really only one answer on a day like today..lasagne. One of my all time favourite comfort foods.

Since moving to Italy I’ve tried a million and one different recipes for lasagne but from overly-dry to overly-tomatoey to damn right awful I keep coming back to my own tried and tested recipe which more or less respects the classic Italian dish. The only difference being is that I’m probably less fussy with my weights and measurements and tend to go by instinct after so many years so the recipe below is a guide rather than a given.

There is a feeling of pure escapism as I start to cook and suddenly the noise of the drill and the men walking overhead seems less loud than before. Either they are getting hungry stomachs and have downed tools as the smell of ragout reaches them or I have been miraculously transported away from all things “builders”.

Fianlly I get to my favourite part of making lasagne, the end construction, as it has a certain sense of architecture about it. The layers need to be evenly built and level with not too much and not too little ragout or bechamel. The top layer needs to be aestically pleasing to the eye, enough to make you want to eat it, and yet from a practical point of view the pasta needs to be covered enough to cook through.

With my mini creation finished alas it’s once again time to face the music and as I leave the peaceful surrounds of my kitchen I am once again trapped at home with the builders!

Lasagne Recipe

Fresh or dried lasagne sheets

grated parmesan

basil leaves

Ingredients for ragout:

1 x pack of minced beef (c. 250-300g)

1 diced onion

2 carrots diced

2 celery sticks finely chopped

1 700g bottle of tomato passata

oregano / mixed herbs

salt  & pepper

Ingredients for bechamel sauce:

200g butter

0,75 -1 litre milk

2-3 heaped tablespoons of flour


  • In a deep pan, fry up the diced onion and then throw in the minced beef and cook until nicely browned.
  • Add in the chopped celery, carrot, herbs, salt and pepper and pour over the tomato passata. Leave to simmer for 20 mins.
  • In a seperate pan, melt the butter and then stir in a couple of heaped tablespoons of flour.
  • Add in the milk whilst continuously stirring and keep stirring until nicely thickened. Add in more flour as needed. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Take both pans off the heat and start contructing the lasagne in a rectangular baking dish.
  • Start with a base layer of ragout then lasagne sheets and then bechamel. On top of the bechamel spoon a little more ragout then once again lasagne and bechamel until finished, making sure to leave enough bechamel for on top and a little ragout to make it decorative.
  • Finally sprinkle parmesan and basil leaves over and cook in a medium oven 160-180 degrees for 45 mins to an hour.

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