For years and years I've said that I don't like lasagne. It's probably because I've tried some pretty terrible ones before and I was a pretty fussy eater when I was a child. It's something about the pasta sheets I would always say I didn't like, although now I am a lasagne fan.
So, a while ago when my boyfriend told me he fancied lasagne, I had to come up with a dish that was like lasagne, but without sheets. The result was inside-out lasagne (as my boyfriend calls it). It's basically pasta with a beef ragu, covered in delicious cheese sauce and baked in the oven with an extra layer of cheese.
For the pasta sauce:
• 1 large onion, diced
• 1 grated carrot
• 2 cloves of finely diced garlic
• 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary
• a big glug of good quality red wine
• 1 beef stock cube
• 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
• 1 carton of passata
• a few basil leaves
• 500g of lean minced beef
• 300g of dried pasta
• heaped teaspoon of sugar
• plenty of salt and pepper
• 40g butter
• 2 large tablespoons of plain flour
• 1/2 pint of milk
• half a block of cheese, grated (~75g?)
To start, brown the mince in a little oil until its just cooked, then remove from the pan. Add the diced onion, carrot, garlic and cook until softened. Add the oregano and rosemary and cook for a minute. Pour in the red wine and make sure you scrape up all the bits that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan, then add the tomatoes, passata and basil leaves. Crumble in the stock cube and add the sugar, salt and pepper.
I would cook this for as much time possible, it just makes the sauce a lot richer, I would get it simmering on a low heat for at least 45 minutes.
Add the mince and pasta to the sauce and keep on a low heat. Make sure to keep adding water if it starts to get too thick or dry out.
I would then start on the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a pan then add the flour. Cook this out for a few minutes to get rid of the rawness of the flour. Add the milk in stages until the sauce becomes thick and creamy, then add the cheese, making sure to keep whisking. If the cheese sauce is ready before the pasta is cooked, put a layer of cling film on the top (make sure it's touching the sauce) to stop it forming a skin.
When the pasta is almost done, pour the cheese sauce on the top and add more grated cheese. Put in the oven or under the grill to crisp the cheese on top.
Serve with some lovely garlic bread or rocket salad! :)