Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Leftovers Lasagne.

I love lasagne. Something about the combination of rich and oozing cheese sauce and the tart umami flavours of the ragu is just so satisfying and calming. This is a dish which is really easy to sneak extra veg into, and since the meat is shredded, it's easily bulked out with lentils. 
Since moving in with Mr Meat, I've been thinking up and researching ingenious ways to use leftover meat, in order to develop recipes that are rich in animal protein, but go easy on the wallet. One of my tactics is to serve a big roast dinner on the weekend, something like chicken or pork, and use up the leftovers to make cheap suppers later in the week. That's how I get milage out of my meat.

My favourite way to use up leftover roast pork is to shred it up and use it in a ragu, which I put into lasagne. The texture is so much more chewable and satisfying than an ordinary lasagne made from minced beef, and the flavour is meatier and more savoury.

Please forgive me though, dear reader, for not using fresh basil in this dish. Sainsbury's didn't bring me any on the last few online shops that I have done. There is no basil in my house, otherwise it would be included. If you've got some, then rip it up and add it to the ragu sauce. Lovely.

Don't be tempted to use a jar of sauce here, by the way. A jar of "Classic Lasagne" from Dolmio costs £1.90.
£1.90 for a load of oil and sugar? No thanks. Spend 30p and buy a tin of tomatoes instead, then feel smug that you have cooked your dinner all by yourself.
As for buying white sauce in a jar? Don't get me started. White sauce takes less than ten minutes to cook.

This lasagne is one of my favourite dishes, you won't be disappointed. It's delicious.

Jen's leftovers lasagne.

1 Onion
A few cloves of garlic
Leftover vegetables, (I used chopped red cabbage, which added a lovely colour and texture, but you could use anything really)
Leftover roast pork, (or mince if you have no leftovers)
Lentils of some kind
1 tin of tomatoes
Balsamic vinegar
A glug of red wine
About a tablespoon of butter
Two tablespoons of flour
About a pint of milk (though probably less)
About a two square inch piece of a cheese of your choice, (I used gloucester)
Lasagne sheets

Chop your onion up and get that frying on a medium heat until it's soft and golden, then throw your garlic, finely chopped, in there too, along with your leftover veg. Let it all cook for a few minutes while you shred your pork. Simply lay it on a board and chop it as finely as you can, until you have a reasonable amount of meat to use in your ragu.

When your meat is ready, add it to your pan along with your tin of tomatoes, a splash of balsamic vinegar and a glug of your red wine. Get this up to a simmer and cover.

While your ragu is simmering, make your white sauce. Pop your butter into a small saucepan, melt it down and add some flour. It should form a very thick paste, almost a dough. Cook it for a few minutes until it turns straw coloured, and add your milk. You need to do this bit by bit, stirring all the time, (I use a whisk), as the mixture is prone to lumps. Bring the liquid to a simmer for a few minutes.
If it's looking too watery, simmer it until it thickens. If it's too thick, just add some more milk. If you're worried about it because it's got loads of little lumps in it, try not to panic too much. Adding cheese to the sauce helps the lump situation, and remember that you're baking the whole thing, so any mistakes won't be too obvious!

Once you get your sauce to the consistency that you want, (it should be lovely and thick, like double cream), add the cheese, salt and peper. Stir it all through until the cheese melts into the sauce and give it a quick taste. Add more of anything if you think it's needed.

Check on your ragu. Is it nice and tomatoey, are the vegetables tender and are the lentils cooked? Yes? Then add salt and pepper and taste for seasoning. If the sauce is too watery, simmer it for a few minutes with the lid off to thicken. You definitely don't want a watery sauce in there!

Preheat your oven to 180c; you're ready to build your lasagne.

Cover the bottom of an oven-proof dish with about half of the ragu sauce,  ensuring that it's completely covered. Layer lasagne sheets over the top. Pour just under half of the cheese sauce over the lasagne sheets and grate a little parmesan over that, then arrange a pile of spinach on top. Cover the spinach leaves with the rest of the ragu sauce, using every last morsel, then pop some more lasagne sheets on there. Finish with the rest of the cheese sauce, some more grated cheese, salt and pepper, and pop into the oven.

After about 45 minutes, you should have a beautiful, golden, bubbling dish of pasta, tomatoes, cheese and meat. What a joy to behold.

This meal feeds Mr Meat and I handsomely for two nights. The overall cost of the whole lasagne is around £3.50, which works out at £1.75 per meal! I reckon that's pretty frugal. Well done me.

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