I am immediately going to put it out there that this “lasagne” is in no way authentic and it’s probably a bit cheeky to even call it lasagne but this is how I make it. What makes it virtuous compared to a traditional lasagne is that it is relatively low in fat and packed with secret vegetables that you won’t even know are there unless you want to… so if you have a child or a partner who won’t eat their veg, this is a great way to sneak in spades of them. It’s also a bit easier because you don’t have to make a white sauce, which is what all us lazy cooks love to hear. It does still take almost two hours to make though so start early.
Sort of virtuous sort of lasagne
80g smoked pancetta lardons
1 large onion, cut into chunks
2 medium carrots, peeled
1 large courgette, cut into chunks
3 cloves of garlic
1kg extra lean beef mince (5% fat)
185ml red wine
500g tomato passata with added basil (or just use the normal one and add a little tried basil)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
12 – 16 wholewheat lasagne sheets – will depend on the size and shape of your dish
600ml low fat creme fraiche
4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
100g grated mozzarella cheese
Put all the vegetables and the garlic in your food processor and process until finely chopped. You want it so the vegetables just melt into the sauce. Place a large, deep lidded saucepan over a medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook for a couple of minutes until cooked through. Add the vegetables and cook for five more minutes. Add the mince and cooked until browned through.
Add the red wine and bring to the boil, cooking off the alcohol. Then add the passata, oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and then put the lid on and turn down the heat so that it’s just bubbling. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.
Remove the lid from the saucepan and turn your oven onto 180 C. Simmer the sauce for another 30 minutes, again stirring after 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Mix 4 tablespoons of parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste into the creme fraiche.
Spread half the meat sauce into the bottom of a large, deep casserole dish (the one I use is a big pyrex dish about 30 x 15 x 5 and it just fits). Cover with a layer of lasagne sheets. Spread over half the creme fraiche mixture. Cover with another layer of lasagne sheets. Spread over the remaining meat sauce. Cover with another layer of lasagne sheets. Spread over the remaining creme fraiche and then sprinkle over the mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle over some parmesan cheese, as much as you want. This is what gives that lovely crispy topping.
Bake in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes until the cheese is brown and bubbling. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting.
Serves 6 – 8