A quick Quiz.
- How often have you made a pasta dish and not boiled all the dried, uncooked pasta?
- Are you like me and often find heaps of leftover, uncooked pasta sitting in the pantry or cupboards?
- Are you also like me who buys new packets of pasta each time and adds to the stock of uncooked leftover pasta in the cupboards?
- Does your other half roll his/her eyes up in resignation when they find all the remnants of uncooked pasta left over?
- Do you often find that you have to throw up leftover uncooked pasta, if at all just to make more space in the cupboards for, I don't know, maybe New packets of uncooked pasta?
If you answered yes to any one of those questions above, then Read On! This is also my contribution to Presto Pasta Nights hosted by my friend Ruth over at Onceuponafeast.
My niece and nephew spent the day with us after church on Sunday. Since pasta is a perennial favourite with the kids, I decided to make Lasagne. Now normally, if I don't have mushrooms on hand, I will refuse to make pasta - especially a pasta with a meaty base. I suppose I've matured a little though to realise that you can still get delicious flavours without mushrooms.
Having decided to make lasagne (albeit without mushrooms) I decided I'd add another twist to it. Along with some shells, tubes and curves. Yes! Instead of using lasagne sheets, I was going to use my leftover uncooked pasta.
And so I used a dash of Tri-Colore Fussili, a toss of tubed macaroni, a chuck of pasta shells and a flourish of curved macaroni. Boiled them all together and left it to drain while I made the pasta sauce.
This is how I made my lasagne this time although normally I would use mushrooms and celery as well:
For the Meat sauce
700g minced beef
5 cloves garlic - chopped
1 large onion - chopped
4 bay leaves
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
4 large tomatoes - quartered
1 large capsicum - diced
2 large carrots - diced
1/2 can tomato puree
For the Bechamel Sauce
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
400 ml milk
5 slices cheddar cheese
Sautee Bay Leaves, Oregano, Basil, Pepper, Onion and Garlic till fragrant. Add the minced meat and continue cooking till meat is well cooked. Add fresh tomatoes and continue cooking till tomatoes are soft. Add in Carrots. Mix well
Add salt to taste. Add in the tomato puree and Capsicum. Cover and Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add some water if sauce is too dry.
Meanwhile, prepare the Bechamel Sauce
Melt butter in heavy saucepan. Stir in flour and cook in the butter. Add in milk and mix well ensuring that flour is incorporated. Cook on high heat stirring constantly till mixture thickens. Break 3 cheese slices into mixture and stir well
Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
Assembling the Lasagne
Spread some of the meat sauce into a rectangular lasagne or casserole dish. I used a loaf pan this time as the 'leftover pasta' would take up space. Cover with a layer of cooked pasta. Cover pasta with Bechamel sauce then with more meat sauce.
Cover with another layer of cooked pasta. Do this repeatedly finishing with a layer of Bechamel sauce on top. Cover top layer of Bechamel sauce with strips of the remaining w slices of cheddar cheese.
Bake in 190C Oven for about 15 minutes or till top is lightly browned. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes to allow lasagne to set further.
As my wife polished off her lasagne, she looked whimsically at me and said "Now I know what's missing - mushrooms."
Nothing gets past her....