Lasagna is much like the other famous Italian meals (pizzas or pastas particularly) in the respect that once someone gets the basic idea the recipe proves to be very flexible and ingredients can easily be swapped around to better suit personal taste. It can also vary a bit in difficulty: most of the ingredients like sauces and pastry can be bought pre-made, so in some cases making the actual meal is no more than layering the right ingredients in the right order. This article is aimed for medium difficulty lasagna (which actually is still pretty easy and only skips one part: hand-made lasagna pastry).
Ingredients for 4:
1 medium onion
1 lb tomatoes (fresh or canned)
3 cloves of garlic
1 lb minced beef
1/2 cup butter
3 cups of cold milk
1/2 cup flour
3 cup grated cheese
1 pack lasagna pastry (usually about 1 lb)
1/2 lb spinach (fresh or deep frozen)
Oregano, basil, black pepper and salt
Preparation starts with chopping the onion fine and frying it in oil until transparent. Then the mashed garlic is added and after a few seconds (it really doesn’t take more, but it is good to fry garlic for a bit in oil, since this gets the flavour out) the chopped (or canned) tomato joins the pot. When it starts to boil, the oregano and the beef is added to the sauce and boils until the mince is cooked.
Now the second step, the cheese sauce, which is much easier to make than one could expect – and in this case one does not only avoid the use of unwanted preservatives but also can customize the taste.
After the butter is melted in a deep frying pan (or pot) and heated until the water in it is gone (it stops bubbling), then flour is added. This is heated until the flour becomes foamy (this should be way before it starts getting any brown color) then the heat should be turned off. The cold milk is whisked in rapidly (to avoid the forming of lumps in the sauce). Then the heat is turned back on, and when the sauce thickens the cheese (of choice, it can be cheddar, smoked cheese, grated Parmezan, Mozarella or any other fatty cheese that melts) is added. The sauce can be seasoned with black pepper to taste.
The hard part is over, now all there is left is to assemble the lasagna. After a deep tray is oiled the process starts with a layer of lasagna pastry in the bottom, a little bit overlapping. Then a layer of meat, a layer of spinach, a layer of cheese sauce. Then pastry again (it is not that important anymore that it fully covers the surface), meat, spinach, cheese sauce and this repeats until the ingredients last (it should usually have at least 3 of each layer) . The top layer should be cheese sauce that prevents the pastry from getting burned. If someone would sprinkle some oregano on the top of it (together with any cheese that is left over, that would give the meal a mouth-watering scent way before it is ready.
The tray is put in the oven and is baked for 30-40 minutes on 350 F, then it should rest on room temperature for 10-15 minutes to make cutting it up easier.
Of course this recipe is not written in stone, one can use canned lasagna/ spaghetti sauce instead of preparing their own, buy the bechamel or cheese sauce, leave out the spinach or actually substitute the meat with stir fried vegetables (zucchini is great for vegetarian lasagna). If someone loves melted cheese on top of things, some extra grated cheese can be used, or one cup of cheese can be saved for this purpose. Some people add sausages, meatballs, mushroom. There is nothing wrong with that. The important thing is that now it is more clear how lasagna is made and everyone can customize it in a way they and their families will enjoy it the most.