Gino’s Lasagne con pesto
I am a little bit in love with Gino D’Acampo. Not only does he make AH-MAZE-ING food, but he’s really rather dishy. (HA – Get me with the kitchen-esque pun).
I’m not a great fan of meat lasagne usually. I often find it a bit heavy and a bit bland, but I made this recipe at Christmas when ended up doing a full Italian buffet on Christmas eve, and I think it’s the first meat lasagne I’ve actually LOVED.
I got the recipe from here and whilst I’ve followed it nearly identically, I add more cheese as melted cheese is a gift from the gods.
Just a note – if you don’t have time to make the pesto (and I have been known to cheat), you can get these awesome frozen pesto portions which are great for this sort of thing,
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
- 1 celery stick, finely chopped
- 500 g minced beef
- 1 glass of Italian dry red wine
- 700 ml passata (sieved tomatoes)
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 12 fresh lasagne sheets, each about 10 x 15cm
- 50 g cold salted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Cheddar Cheese grated – as much as you like!
- 100 g salted butter
- 100 g plain flour
- 1 L full fat milk, cold
- ¼ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
- 100 g parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 40 g fresh basil leaves
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled
- 30 g pine nuts
- 120 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 20 g parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- Pinch of salt, to taste
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
- Stir in the flour and cook for one minute until it turns light brown in colour.
- Gradually whisk in the cold milk, reduce the heat and cook for ten minutes, whisking constantly. Once thickened, stir in the nutmeg.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4
- To make the pesto, put the basil, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor. Pour in the oil and blitz for about ten seconds
- until smooth. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and fold in the cheese. Season with salt and set aside.
- For the meat sauce, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and cool the onions, carrot and celery for five minutes on a medium heat.
- Add the minced beef and continue to cook for a further five minutes stirring continuously until coloured all over.
- Season with salt and pepper and cook for a further five minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Pour in the wine, stir well and cook for about three minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate. Add the passata and tomato puree, lower the heat and continue to cook for one hour, uncovered, until you get a beautiful rich sauce. Stir occasionally. After about 30 minutes, taste for seasoning.
- Prepare the béchamel sauce as described below. Once thickened, stir in half of the parmesan cheese, the nutmeg and the pesto. Season and set aside to slightly cool.
- To assemble the lasagne, spread a quarter of the béchamel sauce over the bottom of a deep ovenproof dish measuring about 30x25cm and lay four lasagne sheets on top, trimming if necessary to fit the dish. Spread half the meat sauce over the lasagne then top with a third of the remaining béchamel sauce.
- Lay four more sheets of lasagne on top and cover with the remaining meat sauce. Spread half the remaining béchamel sauce on top. Add a final layer of lasagne and gently spread the rest of the béchamel on top, completely covering all the lasagne sheets.
- Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan, along with the cheddar and scatter over the cubed butter. Grind some black pepper over the whole lasagne
- Cook on the bottom shelf of the oven for 30 minutes then place in the middle of the oven and increase the temp to 200C/Gas 6. Cook for a further 15 minutes until golden and crispy all over.
- Once ready, leave it to rest for five minutes. It will be easier to cut and serve as the layers will hold together.