I’ve said it before, but traditional pasta in Italian dishes really isn’t the star of the show, but rather the freshness and quality of the other far more exciting ingredients. Like the sauce and cheese. Oh boy, and if lasagne is about anything, it’s all about the cheese and bolognese sauce!
So I can’t say I even noticed the difference when I started swapping out the lasagne pasta sheets in favour of butternut “sheets” instead. It’s so simple, and not any more work than you would already be doing with the traditional route. So give this a try, it’s a great way to sneak in additional veggies into fussy small people’s diet not to mention drastically reducing the carb count.
Carb Status: ORANGE
500g beef mince
2-3 garlic cloves
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
4 whole tomatoes or tin plum tomatoes
1 tin tomato puree
1 pack streaky bacon, diced
1 tsp oregano
1tsp dried basil
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup beef stock
Salt & pepper
1 butternut, cut into rounds, and deseeded
Salt & pepper
125g cream cheese
100ml fresh cream
2 egg yolks
2 Tbl butter
1 tsp mustard powder or dijon mustard
1 bay leaf
4 – 6 whole black peppercorns
2 cups grated cheddar, mozzarella or parmesan (or a mix of all three works really well)
– Preheat your oven to 180C
– Start by getting the mince on the go so it has time to simmer. In a large heavy-based pot, saute your chopped onions, carrots, tomatoes & celery in a good glug of olive oil and a knob of butter.
– Add the mince and diced bacon, using a spatula to break up the mince, and flipping it regularly so it starts to brown on all sides.
– Once the mince has started to get some colour on it add in the spices, salt & pepper and stir thoroughly to combine.
– When the mince is nicely browned and well coated with the spices, add in the tin of tomato puree, stock and wine and leave to simmer for 10 – 15 minutes with the lid on.
– It’s up to you if you prefer to peel the butternut. Personally, I like to leave the skin on for extra fibre, and that it gives a lovely caramelised touch to the dish. But it’s your call.
– Slice the butternut into thinnish slices. Not too thin, otherwise they will burn, but not to thick as they will stay soggy and not give the desired effect. Aim for matchstick width slices.
– Lay them on a baking sheet, evenly spaced, and drizzle with olive oil and a good grind of salt & pepper.
– Place them in the preheated oven for roughly 20 – 30 minutes, or until they start to caramelize and crisp up. Watch that any thinner slices don’t start to burn towards the end, remove theses slightly beforehand if necessary.
– Get on with the white sauce as the mince and butternut finishes cooking.
– Start by heating a saucepan on medium heat and melting the butter and cream cheese, stirring with a whisk to help the cream cheese breakdown and melt.
– Add in the cream, bay leaf and peppercorns, salt, pepper & mustard and keep stirring to avoid it catching the bottom and burning.
– In a mixing bowl, add the egg yolks and whisk well. Temper the eggs with a dash of the hot cheese sauce from the pan, whisking thoroughly to combine the egg yolks but without scrambling it. Add in a few more dashes of the cheese sauce, mixing again well, then pour into the main saucepan and continue to stir.
– Allow it to simmer gently, while stirring regularly till it starts to reduce and thicken.
– Next add in 1 cup of the grated cheese, stirring until well combined. If it’s a bit thick and gloopy, then just add a dash of milk. If it’s too thin, add a knob of butter and keep stirring it on the heat to let it reduce further.
– Once the sauce is done, set aside and start assembling the lasagne in a large baking dish.
– Start with a thin layer of mince, then a row of butternut slices, then drizzle over a little white sauce, spreading it across the dish with the back of a spoon.
– Repeat this step, aiming to end off with a final layer of white sauce on top. Sprinkle over the second cup of grated cheese over the top of the dish, and finish off with a dash of paprika.
– Then add it into the preheated oven at 180C and bake for 20 – 30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and starts to crisp up and the sauce is bubbling up through the whole dish.
– Serve with a giant green salad or roasted veggies if the weather is starting to get chilly.