Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Winter warmer: Lasagne (and a Cassius)

When the cooler weather hits (and hit with a vengeance it has), there’s nothing as soothing as warming comfort food, like Lasagne.

This is the first time I’ve made lasagne, and the method I’ve used is a combination of various recipes, because I wanted to reduce the amount of fat in the dish. Not sure that this is the lowest-fat dish around, but it tries!

The best part about this lasagne (apart from the healthy vegetables in the filling) is the ricotta topping. It’s really creamy and tasty, and the egg mixed into it gives it a golden crust when it bakes. It’s a great alternative to the béchamel that is normally in lasagne.

Serves 4-6


2 small carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 brown onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped

500g beef mince (I used lean/heart smart beef)
1 tsp paprika
¾ cup beef stock
2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes

4 sheets fresh lasagne sheets (I can recommend Latina Fresh brand – you’ll have quite a few left over if your dish is small, though)
1/3 cup grated parmesan

400g fresh ricotta cheese (I used low-fat ricotta)
1 egg
1/3 cup grated parmesan


1. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large frying pan and add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and carrot softens.

2. Add beef to the pan, and cook until the meat browns. Break up any lumps. Sprinkle with paprika, add stock and tomatoes. Mix together and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for 45 mins, until the sauce thickens.

3. Make ricotta topping by beating the ricotta and egg until it is smooth. Then stir through the parmesan.

4. Preheat oven to 200 deg C. Spread some of the meat mixture over the base of a baking dish. Sprinkle with some parmesan. Cover with a lasagne sheet. Repeat 3 times, finishing with a lasagne sheet.

5. Spread ricotta over the top of the final lasagne sheet and sprinkle on the remaining parmesan.

6. Bake for 25-30 mins until the top is golden. There was a bit of liquid in the dish when taken out of the oven, but it was absorbed by the pasta very quickly..

Chop some carrot, celery and onion; cook with some beef mince; bubble bubble!

Ricotta and egg; layer the mince with lasagne sheets; ricotta topping, ready to bake

Fresh out of the oven - careful, it's hot!

To complement this meal of many layers (literally), I bought a Cassius from Adriano Zumbo. Layers of chocolate plates filled with blackcurrant chocolate crèmeaux – perfect.


  1. Oh, I like your prep photos! Very cool. The filling sounds so good..

  2. The ricotta topping is a great way to have a creamy taste without adding butter. I like the way you've added veggies too, especially the celery. I love the flavour celery adds to dishes.

  3. I agree with Arwen, celery adds some great depth to a dish. This looks so delicious and hearty, especially the golden ricotta top! What a great substitute for bechamel, I'm definitely going to try that sometime!

  4. Oh yes isn't it just lasagne weather! Never thought to use celery but I can really see how it would work :)

  5. heh you really like zumbo cakes :D I like how you picked the cassius to go with the lasagne... it looks like a chocolate version aye!

  6. I like the ricotta topping, reminds me of the potato on top of shepherds pie!

  7. hi Betty - thanks! The filling is very easy to make and very tasty.

    hi Arwen - trying to be healthy is hard, but adding veges to everything is easy to do, isn't it?

    hi Stephcooke - yes, the ricotta is creamy enough to be satisfying, yet it's low fat as well, bonus!

    hi Lorraine - I'm not the biggest fan of cooked celery, but it goes really well with the flavours in this dish.

    hi Grace - I chose the Cassius especially to match the lasagne. Glad you approve!

    hi Howard - the ricotta makes it look like shepherd's pie, doesn't it? But I think it tastes so much better (creamy, mmmm!).

  8. Oh the ricotta crust makes it sound so so good!!