Last night (well I started at 1pm and we ate about 6pm) I made a lasagne - I adapted it by using spinach leaves for the base and a layer of large zucchini slices in the middle. I used ricotta instead of béchamel but it wen t a bit runny, any other suggestions for sauce replacement.
Here is my recipe
Lasagna (this is based on a recipe from Italian regional Cooking by Ada Boni, I have just altered the quantities somewhat)
Ragu (meat sauce)
Sufficient for 4 packets of bought dried pasta mix (just for comparison).
You will note there is no garlic in this recipe, if you want to add it do so at the onion stage, but it will flavour the Ragu very strongly and mask the subtle flavourings from the various meats. It really does not need it.
Metric - Imperial - Ingredient
100g - 4 oz - Butter
Olive oil - as much as necessary
1 large Red onion (or 2 small) finely diced
2 large Carrots finely diced
3-4 sticks Celery finely diced
150g - 6 oz - Bacon, finely chopped
180g - 7 oz - Pork minced or finely chopped
1kg - 2.2 lbs - Minced (ground)beef
2-3 Chicken livers, finely chopped (note these are easier to chop when half frozen)
1 cup Chopped mushrooms (optional)
200ml - 6 fl oz - White wine
Salt & pepper to taste
˝ teaspoon Fennel seeds
sprinkle Mixed herbs, I use Italian blend
60g - 2 oz - Tomato paste (you can increase this if you want)
300ml - ˝ pt - Beef or chicken stock
200ml - 1/3 pint - Pure cream (not thickened)
Heat half the butter and all the oil in a heavy bottom fry pan. (I used to use a great electric frypan I had but the thermostat carked it, so if you have one they are good for this recipe.)
Add the fennel seeds, onion and bacon and fry for a few minutes over a med-hot flame/element. Then add the carrots and celery, cook for a few minutes, stirring, till they just start to brown.
Add all the meats, stir well and fry gently until they begin to brown. If fat comes out of the meat keep cooking until it is absorbed. Moisten with the wine and cook until it evaporates, then add the herbs.
If using mushrooms, add them now.
Dilute the tomato paste with the beef stock. (I also add a teaspoon of vegemite and some Worcestershire sauce and a few drops of Tabasco mixed with a little hot water here, but these are to our taste and are optional.) Stir into the sauce, cover, and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, for about 1 ˝ hours, adding the rest of the stock over this time. After 1 ˝ hours, stir in the cream and the rest of the butter and stir well. Some chopped parsely can be added, again, it is optional.
To replace the pasta, I am going to use layered spinach leaves for the bottom course, and a large zucchini sliced for the middle pasta layers. Then spinach leaves again on top. You could use cabbage, silver beet, or any veg with large leaves.
To replace the bechamel sauce I plan to try ricotta cheese.
So, to assemble.
Line the baking tray with double baking paper.
There is no need to grease.
Layer spinach leaves thickly in the bottom of the pan, and then add a thin layer of ricotta, then the ragu, then sprinkle with parmesan, then repeat to the top, replacing at least one middle layer of spinach leaves with sliced zucchini, the larger the better, and not too thick.
On the final layer of spinach leaves, sprinkle parmesan and some grated cheddar if you want a crispy top, and dot with a few small pieces of butter.
Bake for about 20 mins at 350C
Enjoy. It came out really tasty, I use 1/6th per person with side salad