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Lasagne al forno #2

There are numerous variations of this delicious Italian dish with its layers of meat, pasta and cheese sauce.

ingredients

serves 4 - 6
Olive oil for frying
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed with 1/2 tsp spoon salt
2 celery stalks, scrubbed and finely chopped
100 g (4 oz) unsmoked streaky bacon, rinds removed and chopped
1/2 kg (1 lb) minced beef
396 g (14 oz) can tomatoes
150 ml (1/4 pint) beef stock
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp spoon sugar
2 tsp spoons freshly chopped oregano or 1 tsp spoon dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
175 g (6 oz) lasagne verde
50 g (2 oz) Parmesan cheese, grated, to finish

for the sauce:

25 g (1 oz) butter
50 g (2 oz) flour
600 ml (1 pint) hot milk
Pinch of grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground
black pepper
226 g.(8 oz) carton cottage cheese, sieved

method

1. Heat a spoon of oil in a large pan. Add the onion, garlic and celery and fry until golden. Add the chopped bacon and continue to fry until crisp.

2. Add the minced beef to the pan and fry until browned, stirring constantly. Stir in the tomatoes, stock, tomato puree, sugar, oregano and black pepper to taste.

3. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly, then lower the heat, half cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the sauce is well reduced and thick.

4. Meanwhile, cook the lasagne. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and stir in a spoonful of oil. Cook the pasta, a few sheets at a time, for 8 to 10 minutes or until 'al dente' (tender but firm to the bite).

5. Drain and pat dry with a clean tea-towel or absorbent kitchen paper. Add more oil to the water for each batch of lasagne.

6. To prepare the sauce, melt the butter in a pan. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and gradually add the milk, stirring vigorously.

7. When all the milk is incorporated, return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat, add the seasonings and simmer gently for a few minutes until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat, leave to cool slightly, then stir in the cottage cheese.

8. Arrange the meat, pasta and prepared sauce in layers in a buttered shallow baking dish, starting with a layer of meat, then pasta, then sauce. Sprinkle the top layer of sauce with the Parmesan.

9. Bake in a moderately hot oven (190°C/375°F or Gas Mark 5) for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbling. Serve straight from the baking dish.

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