beef sausage lasagna bake with orecchiette

One of the things I so love about cooking is finding inspiration from items I have in my fridge or freezer. A simpler version of lasagna using beef sausage, vegetables and orecchiette pasta, this dish cooks a little faster than your traditional lasagna as the pasta is cooked before adding it to the meat sauce.
Because sausages are packed with so much beautiful flavour I always remove the casing to enhance the dish. I used orecchiette pasta but any other pasta like penne, rigatoni or fusilli are great alternatives.

Serve this comforting meal with a simple garden or avocado salad and shavings of parmesan.
A delicious, budget friendly family meal!

ingredients | serves 6 | a little effort
600g beef sausage
1/2 white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
150g button mushrooms, quartered
2 zucchini, grated
1t dried oregano
2 rosemary sprigs, leaves only
2T tomato paste
1 can crushed tomato
1T paprika
2T brown sugar
1C cherry tomatoes, whole
bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
1t salt
good grind of black pepper
3 thyme sprigs, leaves only
2T olive oil
1T butter
2C grated cheddar
3C orecchiette pasta, cooked according to package intstructions

white sauce
35g butter
4T flour
2.5-3C milk
1/2t salt
1/2t white pepper

Preheat the oven to 190C/170 with fan.
Heat the olive oil & butter in a large, ovenproof skillet and sauté the onion and garlic until glossy. Remove the sausage meat from the casings by pressing it out, into the hot pan, like little meatballs. Discard the sausage casings and brown the meat all over. About 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste, stir and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring.
Add the grated zucchini, rosemary, paprika, oregano, sugar, salt & pepper, stir to coat and cook for 5 minutes. Pour the crushed tomato into the pan and cook the mixture for another 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Add the cherry tomatoes, stir and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the parsley through the mixture. Set aside.

make the white sauce
Melt the butter in a small pot on medium heat. Add the flour and mix using a wooden spoon.
Remove the pot from the heat and, using a whisk, add the milk while rapidly whisking. Place the pot back onto the heat and continue to whisk until the sauce starts to thicken. Leave to gently simmer for about 10 minutes, while stirring. Add more milk if the sauce is too thick. (You must have a pourable sauce.)
Season with the salt & pepper.

Spoon the cooked orecchiette pasta onto the meat sauce. Pour the white sauce over the pasta and top with the grated cheddar cheese and thyme leaves.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes until browned on top.

leftover leg of lamb – open lasagna of lamb & mushroom

I do not waste anything in the kitchen. Quite honestly, no good Chef wastes any food produce. And minimal waste equals great saving. Simply freeze items in freezer friendly containers or resealable freezer bags, name and date it and safely reuse it in the not so distant future. Easy.
I had some leftover leg of lamb from Sundays’ roast and since pasta is another one of my secret romances, last night was undoubtedly pasta night in my home. Use whatever meat you prefer or may have tucked away in your freezer. Or fry some bacon or sausage, like chorizo and add it to the dish. Even leftover oxtail will make an amazing alternative to the lamb.
There is great effort in making a lasagna…a good lasagna, that is. So this is my take of a lazy lasagna when I actually don’t have the time to make all of the elements to the traditional lasagna we all love so much.

ingredients | serves 4 | easy
10 lasagna sheets
2tbs olive oil
700g leftover lamb (or any other red meat that you would like to use)
3tbs olive oil
3tbs butter
1 punnet wild mushrooms, halved
4 leeks, washed and sliced at an angle
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 white onion, quartered
1.5c cream (full fat)
1c beef stock/broth
8 sprigs thyme, leaves only
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves chopped
1/4c brandy
1tsp dried oregano
1/2tsp salt
black pepper
parmesan (garnish)
fresh chives, garnish
handful fresh parsley, chopped
150g creme fraiche

how to
run water in a large pot and add two tablespoons of olive oil & salt. set aside.
heat the two tablespoons olive oil & 2 tablespoon butter in a large skillet / pan and fry the mushrooms until just cooked. about five minutes. set aside.
in the same skillet, add the remaining one tablespoon olive oil & one tablespoon butter. sauté the onion & garlic until translucent. add the brandy and cook until the alcohol has evaporated, about two minutes. (or flambé if you feel gutsy.)
add the herbs (thyme, rosemary oregano) & the leeks and cook for one minute. add the beef stock and mushrooms and cook until reduced by almost half and slightly thickened. about five minutes.
pour the cream into the mixture and cook for about three minutes. turn down the heat and get on with the meat and the lasagna sheets.
bring the pot of salted water to the boil. add the lasagna sheets one by one and give it a gentle stir. cook for about 8 minutes.
using tongs, pick the sheets out of the water directly into the cream mixture, twisting the sheets to sit, folded, in the creamy sauce, making space for all then sheets. (the starchy water will give a beautiful shine to your sauce.)
in a separate pan, heat a little olive oil and toss the meat until warmed through and slightly crispy on the outside.
turn the heat of the cream mixture on a low simmer and very gently move the lasagna around so to cover it with the sauce.
once warmed through, garnish with the chopped chives and parsley and liberally top with parmesan shavings.
top the lasagna with the meat or serve the meat separately.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x

Pulled lamb & butternut lasagna

I am a big fan of “make ahead meals” as I am of not wasting food. That said – this dish was the third lamb dish I made from one lamb leg. The first, my previous post, roast leg of lamb. The second, a lamb ragu that I served with butternut mash and the third, this very tasty lasagna that was so tasty and satisfying that I had the leftovers for lunch earlier today.
Creamy, cheesy & meaty and packed with goodness, this dish makes a great alternative to the traditional lasagna.
Lamb mince is a good alternative if you do not have leftover leg as I did. Chicken breast will be just as tasty.
I placed all of the leftover leg of lamb into my pressure cooker the next day along with all the ragu ingredients. I then froze half of the mixture, defrosted it and then used the ragu mixture as the base for this lasagna. I served the lasagna with sour cream and sliced avocado. It was perfect!!

Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
800 Lamb meat (Mine totalled 800g, which included the veggies in the ragu)
1/2 Butternut, sliced halfway and then sliced into half moons
6-8 Lasagna sheets
1/2 Onion, chopped
3 Garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbs Olive oil
1 Tbs Butter
200g Mushrooms, sliced
1/2 Can chopped tomato
Black pepper
1/2 C Mozzarella cheese
1/2 C Cheddar cheese
Fresh parsley leaves only (garnish)
Fresh thyme, leaves only (garnish)
White sauce
80g Butter
80g Flour
800ml Milk
Pinch white pepper

How to do it
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a ovenproof dish and set aside.
For the white sauce: melt the butter in a pot. Add the flour and stir through to form a roux. (Paste). Cook for 2 minutes. Gradually add the milk while whisking continuously. Leave to simmer while stirring until thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Season.
In a skillet, heat olive oil & butter. Add the onion & garlic and saute until translucent. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Add the pulled lamb or preferred meat now. Cook until heated through or fully cooked if using other than leftover meat. Add the chopped tomato and seasoning and stir through.
(If not using leftover cooked meat, you can also add 1/3 cup red wine, 100ml beef stock and some grated carrot now, along with 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Reduce until thickened.).
Cook for about 5 minutes and set aside.
In a seperate pot, boil salted water. Add the lasagna sheets, one at a time, and boil for 1 minute each. Place onto a plate drizzled with a little olive oil and brush each sheet with a little oil after boiling. Once boiled, cut sheets into half.
Spoon about 5 tablespoons white sauce into the bottom of the dish and spread out. Pack the halved lasagna sheets on top to cover base to the sides. Top with butternut half moons. Pour a little more white sauce on top and spread out to the sides. Top with the meat mixture.
Repeat this twice more to eventually make your last topping the white sauce.
Place into the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover with the grated cheeses and bake for a further 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 15 minutes before slicing.
Top with the thyme & parsley leaves.