Let’s face it, we ALL love lasagna. Fremantle has even got a street festival to celebrate to sheer joy of this, one of the world’s greatest dishes. This year sees Lily St celebrate TWENTY ONE years of lasagna. Can you imagine the sensory delight of strolling down Lily St on November 10 this year? My heart skips a beat at the thought. And to the future winner, may the cooking gods continue to smile upon you.

For me, it’s about the sauces married in what can only be described as a love match to rival the greatest. Rich tomato sauce and creamy cheese sauce. Be still my beating heart. On a cold winters night is there nothing better? True comfort food for all of the ages.

The unfortunate thing is that it’s a bit time consuming. Making the tomato sauce can take hours … then there’s the cheese sauce … then there’s assembly … and yes, it needs to be baked. Who has time for that?

Here’s my plan. I’m looking at this as a meal in stages.

On Monday, I’m feeding the kids spaghetti bolognaise for dinner. Step one, make a double batch of sauce, then freeze half.

On Wednesday, I’m planning on cauliflower soup. I’ll make the cheese sauce then and I’ll only have to grate cheese once. Yes, the sauce goes in the freezer too.

Friday is D Day. Everything is put out in the morning to defrost and ready to assemble. Two hours before dinner, I’ll assemble everything. It should only take about twenty minutes.

Layer the sauces with good quality lasagna sheets, bake for 90 minutes at 170 C and serve with a green salad. Hopefully there’ll be leftovers for Saturday lunch but, realistically, what are the chances?

Bolognase sauce

Ingredients

I made a vegetarian lasagne but, to meat it up, just add 500g of mince (beef, chicken, turkey)

  • 6 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced finely
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 2 zucchini, grated
  • 200g cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • A whole bottle of passata
  • Basil
  • A glug of olive oil

Method

In a large, heavy based saucepan heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic. Soften.

If you are adding meat, add it now and brown it. Then add all off the vegetables and passata and season with salt and pepper.

Reduce the heat and simmer for as long as you can. Let it thicken and intensify.

Cheese sauce

There are a thousand recipes for cheese sauce on the internet. I’ve used the one from the BBC.

Ingredients

  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 400–500 ml milk
  • 200g cheese, grated mature Cheddar
  • salt and white pepper

Method

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook for 1–2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and gradually stir in the milk to get a smooth sauce. Return to the heat and, stirring all the time, bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 8–10 minutes and season with salt and pepper. Stir in cheese and allow to melt. Don’t re-boil the sauce or it will become stringy.

Assembly

Spread a layer of bolognase sauce onto the base of your lasagna dish. Cover with lasagna sheets. Spread with more bolognase sauce, then cover with cheese sauce. Pasta … Bolognaise … Cheese … Repeat. Your final layering should be a lasagna sheet topped with cheese sauce and then a good sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Bake. Serve. Eat.

Not all heroes wear capes. Some bake lasagna. Be a hero today!

 

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Nikki Montgomery

Nikki Montgomery is a muffin baker, sandwich maker, chutney activist and painter of bespoke footwear. Nikki’s been called a lot of things over the years and worn a number of different hats. Between being 'just Mum' and trying to be an active community member, Nikki also has a keen interest in politics and social justice. What better way to get people to slow down and hear what others have to say than to gather together and share food? Now she can add ‘writer’ to her resume.