Toddlers & Young Children, Grown Ups
Doesn’t everyone love lasagne? It’s certainly a favourite in the Foti household. This probably isn’t the most traditional of recipes as I make mine with oodles of oozy cheese sauce, and in so doing would probably be in a good deal of strife in Italy. Rather than just a bechamel I add strong cheddar or even a couple of tablespoons of grated Parmesan. If the truth be known I have a bit of a thing for cheese sauce. Top tip: try adding a teaspoon of english mustard to your cheese sauce, it really enhances the flavour.
I usually make separate lasagnes for the kids in my Oogaa bowls (being silicone they can amazingly be baked in the oven) and a larger one for the grown ups. The kids just love having their own dish. If you are baking individuals I would advise pre-cooking the dried lasagne for a few minutes before layering. You could obviously bake just the one large lasagne for the whole family, and no lasagne pre-cooking required.
Enough for a hungry family of four, with a few tasty leftovers:
For the cheese sauce:
50g of butter
40g of plain flour
500ml of full fat milk
a teaspoon of English mustard (optional)
80g of cheddar cheese, grated
8 – 10 dried lasagne sheets
125g ball of Mozzarella, thinly sliced
a heaped tablespoon of grated Parmesan or Grana Padano
Pre-heat your oven to 180C.
Start with making your cheese sauce. Place the butter in a large saucepan and heat over a very gentle heat until melted. With the pan still on a little heat add the flour and stir quickly and vigorously with a wooden spoon or a balloon whisk until combined. Add a little milk and continue to stir or whisk vigorously, gradually add the milk in this way until you have incorporated it all. Don’t worry if you have a few lumps at this stage, they’ll eventually go. Continue to stir or whisk the sauce over a gentle heat until it is fully thickened and starting to simmer, this will take a few minutes. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the cheese, mustard (if using) and a pinch of ground pepper. You probably won’t need to add any salt as the cheese contains plenty.
Now you’re ready to construct. Choose your dishes and decide how many layers of pasta and sauces you need. If making small individual lasagnes for the kids I would suggest just two layers. If making in a deep dish then three. Either way start with a layer of bolognese on the base of your dish or dishes. Cover this with a single layer of lasagne, preferably pre-cooked for small individual dishes. Now pour on a generous layer of cheese sauce. Repeat this layering system once or twice more, finishing with the remainder of the cheese sauce on top.
Place the mozzarella slices evenly over the top or tops and sprinkle with the Parmesan.
Place in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes for small individual lasagnes or 45 minutes for larger ones, until the cheese is bubbling and golden on the top. Check with a fork that the pasta is soft and cooked through (if not already pre-cooked).
Great served with a salad for grown up folk and a few steamed veggies for the wee ones.