Friday, 28 February 2014

Easy midweek dinner recipe: Pork and Spinach Lasagne

When I started this blog, I didn't think it would include recipes. After all, I just follow other peoples recipes, so why not just link to them? But then the other night, while I was preparing dinner, I realised that actually, I quite often have two or three recipes open at a time, using elements from each, and then adding some other bits that have just come from my head, in a trial and error fashion.

This usually means that if I come up with something really yummy, I'll often be unable to replicate it exactly. So, this time, I decided to take notes, so that if this turned out well, I could share it with you, my lovely blog readers.

As it happened, this lasagne was yummy. My family wolfed it down and scraped their plates clean. I had made some for friends that are having a tough time too, and they asked for the recipe. Chuffed, I declared the recipe a success and therefore I'm sharing it with you. Give it a go. And if you do, please tell me what you think!

 

Pork and Spinach Lasagne

Meat Sauce Ingredients:

2 cloves garlic

1 onion

1 red chilli

1 tbsp tomato purée

77g pancetta cubes/bacon lardons

300g pork mince

400g tin chopped tomatoes

100g frozen spinach

Mushrooms/peppers (optional)

Method:

Gently fry the onion, garlic and chilli in a little bit of olive oil, so that they soften, but don't go brown. I'll let you in to a secret here. I use frozen onions and chilli, and 'lazy garlic' from a jar. You can use fresh if you like, of course, but if like me, you've got two kids pulling at your legs the whole time you're cooking, really, take every shortcut you can!

Next in the pan is the pancetta. I get those little packs of lardons and keep them in the freezer. As with the onions and chilli, just shove them in frozen. They will defrost in seconds in your pan and be fine. Because who can remember to take things out to defrost?

Next, add the mince. I would defrost this first if it's frozen, but a burst in the microwave will be fine. Once this is looking mostly cooked, you can add the tinned tomatoes, tomato purée and frozen spinach (again, shove it in frozen) bring it all up to a simmer and let it blip away for a bit, until the spinach has fully defrosted and mixed in well. At this point you can add some herbs if you like, and some extra veggies in with the spinach if you're trying to sneak them into the kids. Some peas would be nice, or mushrooms. I put some sliced mixed peppers in. Season with pepper (not salt - there's enough in the pancetta) and set aside while you make the cheese sauce.

Cheese Sauce Ingredients:

4 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp plain flour

1/2 pint milk

1/2 pint plain yoghurt

1 cup grated cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top

Method:

Put the olive oil and flour in a small pan over a medium heat and whisk continually for about a minute, until it starts to froth a bit. Take away from the heat and add the milk and yoghurt, whisking well. Put back on the heat and cook, whisking all the time, until the mixture starts to thicken. Just as it looks about to boil, take it off the heat and add the cheese, salt and pepper. You can make this sauce healthier, by using skimmed milk and fat free yoghurt (which I did) and using low fat cheese. Use a bit less cheese if you like too - it's a really flexible recipe. Use what's in your fridge.

Make the lasagne:

This is the fun bit, and kids might like to help here. You know how to layer a lasagne, but here's how I do it. I put a little bit of meat sauce on the bottom. Squeeze the ladle into the sauce so that you've got mostly sauce, not meat, if that makes sense? Then a layer of pasta (I use dried lasagne sheets, the no pre-cook kind), meat, then cheese sauce. Keep going until you get to the top of your dish. We like a crispy topping on our lasagne, so finish with pasta sheets and then a really small amount of cheese sauce, that doesn't reach the edges. Cover with as much grated cheese as you like on top. I always put too much on for my non-cheese-loving husband's liking.

See those bits of lasagne sticking out at the sides? They will be the yummy crispy bits everyone fights over!

Bake in the oven at 180c for about half an hour, but keep an eye on it and take it out when it looks right to you.

Tuck in. Yum yum. This made enough for 6 good portions. 4 for us and 2 to pass to a friend or freeze for later.