Lasagne I

A mouth-watering adaptation of the traditional Italian recipe, Lasagne is not for the conscientious weight-watcher. It is, however, quite definitely for those who love the warm rich taste of pasta. Lasagne need be accompanied only by a tossed green salad and a good hearty red wine – Barolo would be particularly appropriate. Cottage cheese may be substituted for the ricotta if liked.2 fl. oz. olive oil

1 lb. lasagne

1 lb. mozzarella cheese, sliced

1 lb. ricotta cheese

4 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated

2 fl. oz. olive oil

2 large onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 lb. lean minced beef

15 fl. oz. tomato sauce (not tomato ketchup)

22 oz. canned peeled tomatoes

1 oz. tomato puree

1 fl. oz. water

1½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon dried basil bay leaves

8 oz. mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced

First, prepare the sauce. In a very large saucepan, heat the olive oil over moderate heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic and fry, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent but not brown. Add the beef to the pan and cook it for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally with a metal spoon, or until it is lightly browned.

Stir in the tomato sauce, tomatoes with the can juices, tomato puree, water, salt, pepper, sugar, basil and bay leaves.

Bring the sauce to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Add the mushrooms and simmer for another hour.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow the sauce to cool to room temper-ature. With a metal spoon, skim off the fat from the surface of the sauce and discard the bay leaves. Transfer the sauce to a covered container and place it in the refrigerator overnight or until you are ready to assemble the lasagne.

Half fill a large saucepan with water and add half the olive oil. Bring the water to the boil over high heat. Add half of the lasagne to the pan, sheet by sheet, and cook it for 12 to 15 minutes, or until it is al dente or just tender. When the pasta is cooked, remove it from the pan with a fish slice or tongs, being careful not to tear the sheets.

Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and cook the remaining lasagne in the same way. (The oil prevents the sheets of pasta from sticking together.)

Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F (Gas Mark 4, 180°C).

To assemble the lasagne, in a large ovenproof casserole make a layer of pasta. Cover it with a layer of meat sauce and then with alternating layers of mozzarella, ricotta and Parmesan cheese. Add another layer of pasta, then meat sauce and cheese. Continue adding alternate layers, ending with a layer of pasta sprinkled liberally with the Parmesan cheese.

Place the casserole in the oven and bake the lasagne for 1 hour. Remove the casserole from the oven.

To serve, cut the lasagne into 3-inch squares and use a fish slice to remove the portions from the casserole.

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