Friday, February 11, 2011

Lasagna or not?

One thing I know for sure: This is not an authentic one. I hadn`t cooked for days and today I finally made something in the kitchen. Something meaty. On weekday. Ooops...(whispering voice) I broke the rule....
It was lasagna, for my beloved Garfield. To make the whole process sounds simpler, there are 3 things to prepare: bolognese sauce, cheese sauce, and lasagna noodles. In this post I only show you how to make the bolognese sauce (my version) and to assemble the lasagna. I`ve previously posted about cheese sauce here.

The bolognese sauce first. It`s basically meat-based sauce, but you`ll see how I made it a bit different.
Saute the onion and garlic as usual. I missed this goodness!

Toss in minced beef. Did I feel guilty? Yes. And no. No?

Because I got these. Shiitake and maitake mushroom. Not a nutritionist here, but they sure make my beef issue sounds lighter. So, stir in the mushroom when the beef turned color.

Now here comes my question.
Why do canned tomato or tomato ketchup come in such intense red color? I`ve pureed tomato so many times yet all I get is rather light orange color.I suppose simmering lots of tomatoes until they loose most their water content might give the concentrated color. But I don`t know, never tried it myself. So, since I haven`t solved the question, I made my own "tomato sauce". I pureed some fresh tomatoes and red bell pepper to make it redder. I also added lemon juice and a pinch of sugar to give some sweet tang. Not exactly like the canned one, but at the moment I`m happier with my DIY tomato sauce.

Yes, I`m on my right mind when I added gochugaru (chili powder) to the sauce. The sauce color wasn`t red enough and gochugaru is just perfect to do the job. My gochugaru is not spicy at all, another plus here.

I was still dealing with my meaty guilty feeling when I thought mushrooms weren`t good enough. So asparagus come to the rescue. It`s fibrous and green.

Chop it up and stir in. I felt triple better now. Now is time to season it with basil, oregano, salt, and pepper.

Confession: I completely forgot both basil and oregano. I only put salt and pepper. Can you believe it? The only ingredients that make this food looks Italian are just pasta and tomato. And the weird thing is, I was happy with how it tasted that I didn`t realize that those two were missing!
Anyway, now you knew where the post title came from.

Assembling time. Get a casserole dish, laddle in some bolognese and cheese sauce, and spread them out to the whole bottom surface. This layer will be the non-stick agent for your lasagna noodle.

Now the pasta. My lasagna noodles don`t need to be pre-cooked because it says on the pack that they absorb the liquid very well. Read the pack first, please.

Assemble the noodle over the sauce.

Laddle in some bolognese sauce again.....

...then the cheese need to be neat here..

...and place the noodles again.
Alright, a little math would greatly help in assembling this lasagna so that you don`t end up having left over of this and running out that. Check first how the lasagna noodles will fit into your dish and how many layers you can (or want to) make with them. After deciding the layers, you can roughly estimate how much sauce to spread in every layer. To avoid thinking too much (math isn`t my thing), I usually make 3-5 layers, no more. And for the first time in my cooking life, I finished the noodle and the sauce perfectly for the last layer. A happy coincidence.

So, after finish layering (the top is the sauce, not the noodle), spread some more cheese (mozarella or natural cheese will do great) and pop it in the oven for 15 min baking.
That green thing is seaweed. I`m crazy about seaweed flakes. Baking them will bring out the fragrance and it goes really well with the melting cheese.
Some tips here: cover the dish with aluminium foil when start baking, then after 10 mins, open the foil and continue baking to let the cheese get crusty.

Garfield smiled and smiled looking at a dish of smoking hot lasagna.

We shared eating from this plate. Burp. Sorry.

For 20x20x6-cm casserole dish

Bolognese sauce
Onion, 1 large, chopped
Garlic, 5 cloves, chopped
Beef, 250 g, minced
Shiitake mushroom, 150 g, thinly sliced
Maitake mushroom, 100 g, chopped
Tomato, 2-4 large, pureed
Red bell pepper, 1, pureed
Lemon juice, 3 tbs
Water, 1 cup
Sugar, a pinch
Salt and pepper to taste

Cheese sauce

Butter/margarine, 3 tbs
Flour, 3 tbs
Milk, 2 cups
Whole egg, 1, beaten
Cheese, 200 g

10 sheets of lasagna noodles


  1. Lasagna is such a versatile food and I love your tweak, especially the greens you put in there.

  2. Hi Katerina, the greens somehow payed off the guilt :D

  3. Hi,

    I suddenly craved for lasagna after looking at the photos of your post.

    I am a food enthusiasts and I'm fond of surfing food bogs. I sometimes copy the recipes when I have time to cook.

    I am now a follower of your blog, hope you'll follow mine.

    Happy Sunday:)