Lasagna

Portion of traditional durum wheat lasagne with bolognaise sauce, beef mince and cheese in alternating layers on a white plate

Ingredients

Red Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
4 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced (see garlic tutorial here)
1/2 large onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (or a mix of dried oregano and basil)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

White Sauce:
3 cups milk (not skim, I used 1%)
5 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Lasagna:
lasagna noodles

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking pan with cooking spray or with a napkin dipped lightly in olive oil and set aside.

In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey over medium-high heat, breaking the meat apart into pieces with a wooden spoon. When turkey is cooked through, drain the grease and set aside.

In a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and one tablespoon butter. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. When oil/butter is hot, add the garlic, stirring constantly. When the garlic is lightly browned, but NOT burned, add the onion and mushrooms. Continue cooking on medium-high heat until the vegetables are soft and browned and the fluid has mostly cooked out. Remove from heat and either using a handheld immersion blender or transferring the vegetables to a blender, blend the vegetables to a paste-like mixture. Return the pot to the heat (pour the pureed vegetables back in, if using a stand-alone blender) and add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Then add the diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir. Cover and let the sauce sauce simmer for 30 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Right before using the red sauce in the lasagna, stir in the reserved ground turkey.

While the red sauce simmers, if using lasagna noodles that need to be boiled, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and boil the noodles for half the time suggested on the box. Once the noodles are cooked, drain, but do not rinse. Add a dab of olive oil to keep them from sticking together. If you are using no-boil noodles, you can skip this step.

Also while the red sauce is cooking, melt the four tablespoons butter and when melted, add the flour, stirring constantly to combine and letting the mixture cook, while stirring, for a minute or two. Gradually add in the milk, whisking constantly. Add the salt and pepper. Slowly whisk the white sauce, ensuring it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan, while cooking it over medium heat. Continue slowly stirring or whisking while the white sauce cooks and thickens quite a bit, about 5-7 minutes. Add a pinch of mozzarella for good luck, if you wish!

To begin layering the lasagna, keep in mind that you’ll have three layers of noodles as well as three layers of the sauces and cheese – so plan on splitting all the sauce and cheese piles into thirds so you don’t run out at the end! On the bottom of your lightly greased baking pan, layer three pre-boiled noodles or four no-boil noodles, slightly overlapping the no-boil noodles. Layer the red sauce, white sauce, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, spreading all to the edges and top with another layer of noodles. Again, layer the red sauce, white sauce, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and top with the final layer of noodles. Layer the sauces and cheeses again.

Cover the lasagna with a greased layer of aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and let the lasagna sit for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

 

Ravioli with White Wine Butter Sauce

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Ingredients

One 9 ounce package chilled fresh ravioli
One bunch asparagus (about 15-20 spears), trimmed and cut into two inch pieces. You can use just the tips or if you like lots of asparagus, use the stems as well!
2 tablespoons coarse salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
¾ cup white wine
2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme, plus more for garnish
Shaved parmesan cheese for garnish

Method

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and olive oil, and then asparagus. Cook asparagus until just crisp-tender, about 2 minutes, and remove asparagus with a slotted spoon, leaving the water boiling.

Add one tablespoon of butter to a medium size skillet and melt over medium high heat. Add shallots and garlic and stir until soft, 2-3 minutes.

Stir in wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 2-3 minutes. Now add butter, cube by cube, stirring until each one is melted into the sauce.

While the sauce is cooking, add the ravioli gently to the boiling asparagus water (I like to lower them in with a slotted spoon) and cook according to package directions until just done, about 6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and put in a single layer on a plate until the sauce is finished.

When all the butter is melted, stir in the chopped thyme.

Divide the ravioli between two plates, and tuck the asparagus tips in between the ravioli. Drizzle a generous portion of sauce over each serving, garnish with fresh thyme and shaved parmesan and serve at once!

 

Spaghetti Bolognese

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Spaghetti Bolognese is a classic. You don’t need a lot of ingredients to create a really tasty dish and cooking it in the oven means you get great depth of flavour. It’s a perfect meal for kids – don’t be worried about the wine as the alcohol cooks away.

Ingredients

Extra virgin olive oil
6 rashers higher-welfare dry-cured smoked streaky bacon, sliced 1cm thick
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
500 g quality British beef mince
200 ml red wine
1 x 280 g jar of sun-dried tomatoes
2 x 400 g tins of plum tomatoes
500 g dried spaghetti
Parmesan cheese

Method

Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Put a casserole pan on a medium heat, add a splash of olive oil then cook the bacon, rosemary, garlic and onion for about 5 minutes, stirring now and then, until soft. Add the mince and break apart any lumps with a wooden spoon. Let it cook for a couple of minutes until starting to brown then pour in the red wine.

Let that bubble away while you drain and blitz the sun-dried tomatoes in a food processor. Add them to the mince with the tinned tomatoes. Stir well and break the plum tomatoes apart a little. Cover with a lid then cook in the hot oven for 1 hour. Remove the lid after 30 minutes, and if it looks a little dry, add a splash of water to help it along.

About 10 minutes before the time is up, cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions. Drain, reserving a mugful of cooking water, then return the spaghetti to the hot pan with a few spoons of Bolognese, a good grating of Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Mix it about to coat the spaghetti and to stop it becoming claggy, loosening with a splash of cooking water if needed. Divide the spaghetti between your plates or bowls, add a good spoonful of Bolognese to each one then shave over a little Parmesan before serving.