Lasange is massively popular in my house, but can traditionally be heavy, stodgy and very calorific. I’ve lightened up and improved the nutritional quality of this dish by avoiding pre-made sauces, using wholewheat pasta, adding extra veg and using less but stronger flavoured cheese.
This lasagne includes a full portion of veg per serve and is packed with fibre, while retaining all of the rich and creamy elements that make it so tempting. Even my vegetable – phobe child cleans her plate every time.
Lasagne generally requires a bit of effort and cooking time, however it freezes very well so I often make a double or triple batch, leaving me with an equally satisfying low-effort dinner at a later date.
The veg I’ve used is what’s most likely to be lurking in my fridge, but can be swapped for pretty much any veg you have on hand. The beef mince can also be substituted for turkey mince to make this even lighter, when using turkey I crumble a beef stock cube into the mince mixture and add a dash of Worcester sauce for extra flavour.
I like making my own cheese sauce but there’s definitely no medals for doing so – if you’re short on time or not that confident in cheese sauce making, grab a jar!
For the meat sauce:
- 500g beef mince
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, grated
- 2 sticks of celery, diced into small cubes
- 200g mushrooms, sliced
- 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 6oml red wine (optional)
- 1 1/2 tsp dried italian herbs OR 1/2 tsp each of dried basil, parsley & oregano
- salt & pepper, to taste
For the cheese sauce:
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tbsp butter/margarine
- 1/4 pint milk
- pinch of nutmeg
- salt & pepper, to taste
- 1/2 mozzarella ball, cubed (around 60g)
- 2 tbsp grated parmesan
- 25g strong cheddar, grated
You’ll also need
- Lasagne sheets (I use wholewheat)
- The other 1/2 of the mozzarella ball
- Another 25g strong cheddar
- Heat a large pan and dry fry the beef mince until browned
- Add the garlic and onions and continue frying for 2-3 minutes
- Add the rest of the veg and stir through well
- Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, red wine and herbs. Stir and turn down the heat. Simmer the sauce for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. At the end of cooking time, add salt and pepper to taste
- In a smaller saucepan, over a medium heat, melt the butter then add the flour
- Beat well with a wooden spoon until a ball is formed. Continue to stir this over the heat for a minute or two, this will cook out the flour
- Slowly add the milk a little at a time, stirring continually until you have a smooth white sauce. If it becomes lumpy, whisk well with a balloon whisk over the heat until smooth again.
- Add a pinch of nutmeg and the cheeses. Stir until melted. Add a little more milk if the sauce is too thick
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer on the lowest heat, stirring regularly, for 10 minutes. This will ensure the flour has completely broken down and cooked
- Preheat the oven to 180C fan
- When both the meat and cheese sauces are ready, remove from the heat and prepare your work area for layering
- As well as the sauces, you will need to hand a medium sized square or rectangular baking dish, the lasagne sheets and the remaining cheddar & mozzarella
- Layer up by placing 1/3 of the meat sauce into the bottom of the baking dish and flattening down to an even layer. Arrange a single layer of lasagne sheets over the meat sauce, then cover with 1/3 of the cheese sauce, again, spreading to give an even layer
- Repeat with the next 1/3 of sauce, and so on, until you’re left with the top layer of cheese sauce. Make sure this completely covers the lasagne sheets
- Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella & cheddar over the top of the final cheese sauce layer
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for around 45 minutes. You can check to see if the lasagne has cooked by poking a knife through the middle, this will cut through easily once fully cooked
- Remove from the oven and stand for 5 minutes before serving