Lasagna

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There are some dishes that are quick and easy and everything you love for a weeknight dinner. Then there are dishes that are quite time consuming… only worth making when there’s a crowd to feed. You might not agree with me but I consider lasagna to be one of the latter.

I guess the whole thing about it is that you need to make 2 separate sauces, layer them with the pasta sheets then bake again. That’s like 3-4 major steps. As a working person, I haven’t got all day to spend on a dish like this.

Recently, we were invited to a little get-together and a request was made for lasagna. 🙂 I went for it. To make it easier for myself, though, I broke those 3-4 steps down into 2 days just to make it less taxing. And I pulled out the ole slow cooker. Oh, I love my slow cooker.

I decided to go with the sort of traditional beef lasagna. So I used ground beef, tomato puree, canned tomatoes, onions, ground garlic, olive oil, Italian herbs & salt.
Lasagna 1

The first thing I did was to prepare the meat sauce. After browning the meat, I added in the chopped onions & spices.
Lasagna 2

All the tomato products are tossed in. Until your pan overflows then you panic and try to push as much of the spill into the sink. Yes, people, use a larger pan. Also, I didn’t use all the tomato cans in the first picture because my pan wasn’t that big.
Lasagna 3

Once that’s nicely boiled and hot, I poured it all into my slow cooker.
Lasagna 4

This recipe does make tons of meat sauce. Leftover is good, right? 😉 Anyway, this was left on LOW overnight. Amazing smell when I woke up! Thing to note, though… this meat sauce is a little more watery than the regular bolognese sauce because I’m using no-boil lasagna sheets and would require that extra liquid to soften.
Lasagna 5

The next day, about 2 hours before I want the lasagna to come out of the oven, I began making the bechamel sauce. This required fl0ur, butter, milk, ground nutmeg and a variety of cheeses! I went for mozzarella, cheddar & Parmesan.
Lasagna 6

The roux in making. Remember me making this recently?
Lasagna 7

Had to take a pic of this. Isn’t the tiny one soooo cute?
Lasagna 8

That cheese. I mean, look at that. Cheeeeeese… 
Lasagna 9

Cold milk, hot roux = no lumps.
Lasagna 11

Now that the sauces are totally ready, my favourite part begins. Assembly line please!
Lasagna 12

Layer, layer, layer, layer, layer. This part made me so happy!
Lasagna 13
Lasagna 14

Even before cooking, this already looked brilliant.
Lasagna 15

But nothing rivals the AFTER picture. Look at that strata!
Lasagna 16

And the brown brown cheesy crust. This is about the one time I love something for being cheesy (*badumdish*). Well, this and cheesecake.
Lasagna 17

No cut pic as I had to take this to a gathering but trust me, it fed a lot of people.
Lasagna 18

Love that little bit of pasta frill sticking out.
Lasagna 19

 After all that work, I still it was worth it. Some good things need lots of TLC. This is one of them and the end product was just amazing. Breaking down the process over 2 days made it manageable. Also, the slow cooker cut down so much pot-stirring time.

Do you have a favourite dish that also takes lots of much needed TLC? Let me know so I can try!

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“For even Christ pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on Me. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:3-4)

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Lasagna
 
Prep time
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Dust off your slow cooker for this recipe!
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 kg minced Beef
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Red Onions, peeled & chopped
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Powder (or 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced)
  • 2 cans Canned Tomatoes
  • 2 cans Tomato Puree (3 cans if your pot can fit another)
  • 1 tbsp Salt (more or less, to taste)
  • 1 tbsp Italian Herbs
  • 5 tbsp Butter
  • 4 Tbsp Flour
  • 4 cups Milk
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp freshly grated Nutmeg
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 cup grated Mozarella (reserve 1 cup for topping)
  • 6 slices Cheddar Cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 pack Lasagna Pasta sheets
Steps
  1. In a large stockpot, heat up oil and brown beef mince, about 10 minutes.
  2. Toss in chopped onions, garlic powder, salt & Italian herbs. Stir constantly until onions are translucent.
  3. Pour in canned tomatoes & tomato puree. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Pour everything into your slow cooker. Let it cook on LOW overnight (10-12 hours).
  5. About 2 hours before you have to have the lasagna out of the oven, begin making the bechamel sauce.
  6. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy color, about 6 to 7 minutes.
  7. Add cold milk & bay leaf to the butter mixture, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg. Stir in 1 cup shredded Mozarella & 6 slices Cheddar cheese. Reserve.
  8. Preheat oven to 180 C (375 F).
  9. In a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, begin layering as follows:
  10. Meat sauce, pasta, meat sauce, bechamel, pasta, meat sauce, bechamel pasta etc... ending with bechamel.
  11. Sprinkle remaining cup of Mozarella over & grated Parmesan.
  12. To catch spills, place baking dish on baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly and totally browned.
  13. Let it rest for at least 30 minutes before cutting into squares and serve!
Notes
*I had a bit extra meat sauce so we had it over spaghetti later. 🙂

Bechamel Recipe nicked from Mario Batali: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/mario-batali/bechamel-sauce-recipe/index.html

1 kg meat

Comments

  1. Lasagna is my FAVORITE, though I’ve never made mine with a béchamel sauce like this before. Perhaps that’ll be my next tinkering in the kitchen?

    Thanks for sharing, Jayne. And I’ve totally overflowed my pot before like that, too!

    • I’ve read recipes that use cheese as is in lasagna and I know I’d love that. I think it’s because when I first made lasagna, I’ve always used béchamel and now I associate the sauce with the dish. Doesn’t feel like lasagna to me without it. 😀 Weird food associations.

      And overflowing pans, thank God for cookie sheet pans and whatever other linings you have for ovens! My previous oven was a total mess.

  2. I just couldn’t help but to comment that your tiny grater is so cute it makes me giggle! Hehehe!!!

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