Things I have been cooking lately #147: Sort of virtuous sort of lasagne

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
100g mushrooms
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




  1. Looks yummy. It’s an educational experience for me translating some of your ingredients when you post your recipes, Abbi. “What the hell is a courgette?” Obviously, I didn’t take French in school.;) In America, it’s a zucchini. I cook with a lot of those! I love your recipe. The sauce layer we use cottage cheese or ricotta and I whisk in an egg and parsley for that part. I also love the taste of oregano sprinkled in or lying next to the mozzarella.
    I think Lasagna is marvelous because you can turn it into your own favorite creation or assemble any vegetable and toss it into the tomato sauce or turn it into a layer. Spinach is my favorite way to go with Italian dishes. It’s always in there, somewhere. Bon Appetit!

    1. abbiosbiston

      Hahaha… yeah some of the names are really different in the UK to the US. I can imagine ricotta being lovely as a layer. Yum! It is a great meal to adapt to your own taste, much like spaghetti sauce which I also have tricks for.

  2. I’m starving now. I think I need to make a lasagna this week.

    1. abbiosbiston

      Yes! Yes you do!

  3. Why do I even open your site when I am hungry? JUST WHY?!

    1. abbiosbiston

      Sorry!!! XX

    1. abbiosbiston

      I ate it for three days running and I was still sad when it was finished.

  4. Garfield and I are so coming over for dinner next time you’re hosting haha

    1. abbiosbiston

      I haven’t had a dinner party in ages. I need to get back on that.

      1. I believe it is tradition that I call you hostess with the mostess ha.

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