Stay-Home Cooking #4: Red, White & Green Lasagna by Sassy Chef LS

March 31, 2020

Our latest home recipe comes from Sassy Chef LS, who has cooked and catered in KL, Bangkok and Berlin in the past decade. This Red, Green & White Lasagna pays tribute to her time in London and love for Italian cuisine.

Sassy Chef LS: 

This recipe was hugely inspired by Gennaro Contaldo, considered one of the Godfathers of Italian cooking in the UK. I love the way he makes his food; it's always very easy and comforting. I love Italian food so much, I used to survive eating pesto pasta for a whole week while living in London. 

One dish that took many attempts to perfect was the classic lasagna. I always had trouble making lasagna because I always doubted the packaging instructions saying to just assemble the pasta without boiling. You can use those thick pasta sheets, but if you are doubtful like me, you have an extra step of precooking the sheets before assembling. 

I learned through watching Gennaro's recipe that if you use egg pasta and layer it with sauces that are more liquidy (even without all the extra cheeses you can dump in), your lasagna turns out to be this beautiful melt-in-your-mouth affair and you probably could finish an entire tray in a sitting. 

I like adding a bit of pesto in my lasagna; it helps cut through the heavier flavour of the white sauce and the acidity of the tomatoes. The idea of this lasagna is to really use the ingredients you have in your fridge and to reduce waste, so you can use anything you want in the red sauce as a substitute to the mince. Get creative!

You'll need:
An oven
8"cake tray / loaf tin
Foil to cover the tray 
Large pot


Red sauce: (40mins - including prep and cooking time)
1 x onion (roughly chopped)
250g of mince (can be any - I used lamb)
2 large portobello mushrooms (sliced)
1 x tin of tomato (I used Pelati tomatoes)
Handful of basil
Salt and pepper to season
2 tbsp of oil
2 tbsp of white wine (optional, can be replaced with stock)

To make the red sauce:
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Brown the mince and mushrooms together, for a few minutes. You will see the water being released from the mince and mushroom. This water needs to evaporate until you have the mixture cooking in its fat.
2. Add the onions to sweat in the released fat for one to two mins. Add the white wine or stock to deglaze, and then add the canned tomato. 
3. Fill up half the can with water and pour into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Throw in the handful of basil. 
4. Cover and let it cook for 20 mins until it's thick but somewhat runny. 

Tip: Check the water level every 10-15 mins. Add water if it's drying up too fast. The idea of the sauce is it should be a bit runny. You will know the sauce is done when you see puddles of oil gathering on top of it. If you thicken the sauce, it works really well as pasta ragu and keeps well frozen for a couple of weeks. 

White sauce: (20 mins - including prep and cooking time)
50g butter
2tbsp flour
750ml milk 
Handful of grated cheese (can be cheddar, parmesan, padano - it is meant to thicken and give saltiness to the sauce. I used cheddar)
A pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp of pepper

1. Melt butter in the same (cleaned!) saucepan, let butter melt on low heat.
2. Add the flour, whisk together with the butter until they are melded together.
3. Slowly add in the milk, whisk as you go. Keep adding milk till done.
4. Add nutmeg and pepper. Keep whisking and watch for its consistency.
5. As the sauce thickens, add the grated cheese so it thickens up enough to form ribbons when the whisk is held up. 

Tip: Always keep whisking slowly on low fire - should take 5 to 10 mins. Again, the sauce needs to be a little runny; over-whisking can cause a very thick sauce.

For lasagna assembling: (1hr - including prep, cooking time and setting time)
Premade basil pesto  (bottled pesto is great, I used DeCecco or Sacla)
One box of lasagna sheets - egg pasta sheets. 
Grated cheese 
Red sauce
White sauce

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius 
2. To assemble, prepare a loaf tin / 8" cake tray by first adding a ladle of white sauce on the bottom - this helps the pasta sheet stick and not slip while you assemble. 
3. Lay a pasta sheet, ladle over white sauce, drop teaspoons of pesto all over. Lay another sheet of pasta, pour a ladle of the red sauce and layer with pasta. Repeat the white layer with pesto and alternate with red sauce till you finish layering in the tin. You should finish with white and red sauce covering the top. 
4. Cover the top of the lasagna with the grated cheese and cover tightly with with tin foil.
5. Bake for 30 mins. After 30 mins, take out of the oven, remove the foil and let the top brown for another 10 mins. 
6. Let the lasagna set for 10 mins or so, so it will firm up a little more before you can serve it.

Tip: You can assemble the lasagna into smaller individual portions  (in ceramic bowls) and freeze it for later use; it keeps well frozen for up to 2 weeks. Or you can always freeze the cooked lasagna and reheat it in the microwave or oven before serving.  

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