Inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Classic Family Lasagne
I love this recipe mostly because it’s a lighter version of the American recipes, in that it doesn’t have ricotta cheese. The sauce is a white, cheese sauce. There are a fair few vegetables in there too. It’s great with a large side salad and garlic bread! — British Photographer Jo Ames
Measure and set out all the ingredients
Following a recipe is much simpler if you have all of the ingredients in front you, measured and chopped and ready to be used. You don’t want to get stuck having to chop a vegetable when the oil is already hot!
Ingredients — Serves 12 (with lots of leftover ragu)
2 Sprigs of fresh Rosemary
1 Large Pinch of Nutmeg
3.5 Oz. Bacon (higher-welfare, streaky Bacon)
1 LB quality Ground Beef
2 Sticks of Celery
1 Tbsp Tomato Puree
2 14-Oz. cans of Plum Tomatoes
7 Oz Lasagne Noodles
1 Tomato, sliced for garnish
3 Oz. Mature Cheddar Cheese
1 Leek (medium)
1 Bay Leaf (fresh)
2 Tbsp Flour
2 Cup Semi-Skim Milk
Make the meat sauce
Strip and finely chop the rosemary leaves.
Chop the bacon into small bits.
Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in a large casserole pan on high heat. Add the rosemary and bacon and cook until the bacon starts to crisp — about 2 minutes. Stir regularly. Add the ground beef, using a wooden spoon to break it up as it’s cooking. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes, or until all the liquid has evaporated. Stir occasionally.
Grate the cheese coarsely
If using a food processor, use the coarse grater attachment.
Chop the vegetables
Trim and halve the carrots and chop to roughly the same size as the ground beef. Peel and halve the onions, and chop to the same size as the carrots. (If using a food processor, use the regular blade for chopping the carrots and onions.) Chop the celery the same way.
Add the vegetables to the pan. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the vegetables start to soften. Stir regularly.
Next, add the tomato puree and plum tomatoes, breaking them up as you stir. Mix everything together and reduce the heat to low.
Leave to simmer for 2 hours, or until thickened and reduced. Stir occasionally.
Make the white sauce
While the meat sauce is simmering, make the white sauce.
Trim, wash, and finely slice the leeks. Add 2 TB of oil and the bay leaves to a pan over medium heat. Add the sliced leeks. Stir well, and season with a tiny pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
Reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes, or until sweet and softened. Add splashes of water if needed.
Add the flour and stir well to coat. Gradually add the milk, stirring continuously. Turn the heat up, bring to a boil, then reduce to low and cook for 5-10 minutes, or until thickened, stirring regularly.
Carefully transfer the sauce to the food processor and blitz until smooth and silky. Add half the grated cheese. Add the nutmeg into the sauce and stir until mixed well. Season to taste.
Put the lasagne together
Turn on the oven to 375 F.
Allow half of the sauce to cool and then transfer that half of the sauce into freezer bags to use for later. Lie flat in the freezer to use for another day. Hint: Label and date the bags before filling.
In a large, deep ovenproof dish, spoon a quarter of the meat sauce and white sauce into the bottom and spread evenly.
Arrange one layer of lasagne noodles over the ragu, making sure to completely cover the sauce. Repeat this process 3 times, finishing with a layer of white sauce. Tip: I rarely get 3 layers in my pan; I usually end up with 2.
Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese, garnish with tomato slices, and bake the lasagne in the oven for 45 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
Serve your lasagne
Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with a fresh green salad and garlic bread. Delicious!
Preparation by Jo Ames
Photos courtesy Jo Ames and Ellen Stafford
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