Family-friendly Lasagne layered with erbette

Lasagne with Erbette

Lasagne is a classic Italian dish that has been replicated the world over, given fancy twists, as well as the odd badly thought out massacre and yet it remains one of the most satisfying dishes both as a winter dinner or a summer dish with salad. Its comfort food at its best.

It’s a great family dish as fills stomachs, is a one-bake wonder (aside from some earlier preparation and dish washing!), is great re-heated as left overs, and is economical for family-friendly budgets. This version with some carefully hidden erbette or spinach also helps to get some greens into the kids without the usual moans and groans! As with all recipes there are some ingredients that can be switched in and out to reduce cost for example…using a standard hard cheese like cheddar in place of parmesan…so use this as a guide and play around as necessary.

In Italy, lasagne is often eaten as a starter like other pastas. As such, Italians eat a much smaller portion size than us brits as this course is considered energy giving with its carbs. They will then go on to eat a main course of meat or fish served with vegetables or salads. Whilst the beauty of lasagne is that it can be eaten as a one plate meal it is also worth considering it as 2 or even 3 days worth of starters for a family of 2-4 people. That way you reduce then amount of carbs that you eat in one meal and on the plus side the lasagne lasts that much longer.

Ingredients: (For the meat ragout) 1 small onion, 1 pack of minced meat (c.400-600g), 1 bottle passata or 2 tins of pelati (whole) tomatoes, 1 carrot, 1-2 sticks celery, 1 sprig rosemary, fresh chopped oregano, salt and pepper, olive oil (For the bechamel) 150g butter, 2-3 tbsp flour, 660ml -1 litre milk.

Plus: a generous handful of spinch leaves or erbette (washed and dried), Fresh or dried lasgane sheets. I used the green spinach ones. You’ll need roughly 16 sheets of pasta. Parmesan cheese to coat the top of the lasagne.

Optional: Red wine

Preparation:

1. Chop the onion finely and soften in the olive oil in a large pan before adding in the minced meat.

2. Brown off the meat and then add in the finely chopped rosemary, oregano, carrot and celery.

3. Pour in the passata or tinned tomatoes (break up the tomatoes if using tinned. The reason I suggest pelati rather than pre-chopped tin tomatoes is that they hare more flavoursome and the less watery). If using pellata then half fill the jar with hot water and swill to add in a little extra liquid and ensure that you get all of the tomato sauce. Alternatively you can add in some red wine rather than water to generate more flavour and depth of flavour (you may prefer not too use alcohol if cooking for children). Season as necessary with salt and pepper.

4. Leave to simmer for c. 25-30 mins.

5. In a seperate pan, melt the butter and stir in 2-3 heaped spoons of flour to create a type of paste.

Bechamel Base

6. Use cold milk, straight from the fridge and gradually stir into the paste (I use a whisk) and continue stirring until it thickens. The reason for giving a large margin for the milk quantity is because your bechamel should be the consistency of a standard white sauce (think runny custard) but still pourable. Depending on how generous you are with your spoonfuls of flour you may need to add in a little more milk to achieve this consistency. Once again season as necessary with salt and pepper.

7. Take a rectangular lasagne dish c. 24x30cm.

8. Start with a first layer of meat ragout followed by a layer of pasta, a layer of erbette or spinach, a layer of bechamel and then once again a layer of ragout and continue in this way. Your last layers should be pasta, bechamel and just enough ragout to spot across the top of the lasagne and give colour.

9. Finally grate a generous helping of parmesan over the top of your lasagne as this will go nice and golden once cooked in the oven.

10. Bake slowly on a low heat c. 160-175C for 45 minutes to one hour until nice golden.

11. Leave to cool for 5 mins before serving as this will allow the lasagne to set enough to hold its shape when you cut rectangular portions.

12. Eat alone or with a healthy side of salad.

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I calculated that my entire lasagne cost €11 (c.£9) and eating it as a main course we got 8 portions out of it making it a total of €1.37 per portion (c. £1.12). Not bad for a tasty winters meal.

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Comments
3 Responses to “Family-friendly Lasagne layered with erbette”
  1. You just educated me on a new vegetable – erbette. Had to look it up. It is a tender chard like vegetable. The dish looks delicious.

  2. Karen says:

    Well you can add me as another person who didn’t know what erbette was until I looked it up. Your lasagna would be very popular at my dinner table.

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