My bolognaise sauce is a my secret weapon – easy to make, veggie packed, seriously delicious and a meal the whole family loves (and can survive off for a couple of days so it makes me one happy mama!). I use this as a bolognaise sauce and in my lasagna.
I’m going to show you the healthier way to enjoy a favourite comfort meal, lasagna; and yes it isn’t “classic” but I promise it’s better for you (and the kids) and it’s still delicious.
What you will need:
- 500 grams of lean lamb mince (I use lamb not beef, I prefer the taste of lamb for this)
- 1 medium sized onion
- 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic (jar or fresh)
- 800 gram can of diced tomatos (and maybe an additional small can of tomatoes OR a dash of passata) – it is to keep the sauce runny and tomato-ey (not a word I am aware, stay with me though)
- Wholemeal lasagne sheets (you can buy this from the supermarket)
- Shredded cheddar (however much you like)
- Some olive oil
- Some pepper
- Herbs of your choice – I use whatever is in the garden; parsley, basil and spring onion usually
- Veggies – now this is where I give you free reign. I will always put in an entire grated zucchini, 2 medium sized carrots grated and chopped spinach (silverbeet or baby spinach – I use what’s in the garden but will aim for 2 cups of raw spinach). I sometimes add mushrooms as well. Use what you have in the garden or the fridge – trust me I cook this sauce for 4 hours so whatever you have will usually work as it all softens. Oh I also always add all the soft tomatoes I have in the house so they don’t get wasted – just chop them up and chuck them in if you have them lying around!
- Possible addition and up to you: Pumpkin such as half a butter nut. Sometimes I add a layer of pumpkin into the lasagna.
For the sauce:
- Chop that onion up however the hell you want and chuck it into a pot with olive oil, chuck the garlic in too and cook until brown and soft
- Chuck in the mince and brown this – usually takes 6-8 minutes.
- Next add your tomato cans –I often throw in a large can and a small one (I like a heavy tomato flavour) but you can use a large can and a passata jar if you have it open in the fridge. Doesn’t matter what you use as long as you have enough fluid for all the veggie you are about to add.
- Let this simmer for 10 minutes and use a wooden spoon to break the bits of meat down.
- All the veg you grated and chopped and loved – chuck it in! And season with some pepper (sometimes I also chuck in basil flakes or paprika – season away with whatever you like!). I don’t add salt – this is a meal Miss S loves so my rule is no added salt (kids in particular should avoid salt) and adults can add to their own meal as needed. (Just a quick health point – salt addition to meals quickly adds up and excessive salt intake is a contributor to high blood pressure!!).
- Now this is key – check the fluid status after you’ve added all those vegetables! If it looks too thick and the veg is poking out and not drowned in fluid you need to add more either in the form of another tomato can, a dash of red wine (it will cook off) or passata. Sometimes I do add a dash of red wine (no more than a 1/4 cup) and after 4 hours of cooking you can be rest assured it has burned off!
- Let that sauce simmer for 3-4 hours on low heat and stir occasionally.
- Towards the end of the cooking time throw in the herbs.
For the lasagna construction:
- I do layers of meat and lasagna sheets. I RARELY use béchamel – 99% of the time my lasagna doesn’t have it (it’s way healthier without it) but if it’s a special occasion I’ll throw it in. Truth is my lasagna is delicious without the high calorie white sauce and the adults and kids just don’t need it.
- I layer meat sauce first then lasagna sheet then meat sauce and lasagna sheet usually aiming for 3-4 layers. Always end on a meat sauce thin layer with some cheddar on top.
- KEY TIPS: Always ensure you have enough moisture – sometimes I will wet my hands and sprinkle some excess water to keep the lasagna juicy if the sauce is a bit too thick.
- POSSIBLE OPTION: Mashed pumpkin in a layer. If you want some extra veg (and kids will love this too) chop up half a butter nut pumpkin into roughly 2x2cm cubes. Boil for 10 mins approximately (until soft) and then drain the water and mash it all up. Don’t add any seasoning. Simply spread this out in a layer of the lasagna above the meat – I usually only do 1 pumpkin later somewhere in the middle of the lasagna.
- Once constructed and sprinkled with love and cheese bake on 180 degrees for roughly 30 – 35 mins (or until golden on top). If you’re worried the top is getting too crispy put some foil on it to protect it but to still allow the lasagna sheets to cook.
I love my lasagna because it’s a meal that lasts the family for a couple of days, everyone loves it and I know it’s healthy given how much veggie I pack in there.
As a hot tip – this is the sauce I use on pasta as bolognaise sauce. If you’re feeling like superman or woman then make a big batch and freeze it in containers. You can defrost it on busy days for pasta or chuck in on top of a baked potato (I prefer sweet potato as it’s low GI). I will often layer baked sweet potato, the sauce and then add some green peas/corn/lettuce/fresh tomato/greek yoghurt/fresh mushrooms/whatever the hell you want on top–it’s one of our favourite family go to meals on busy days!
I hope you enjoy this recipe – and if you try it, post it, and tag me so I can see your work! As usual there are no fixed rules here – use whatever veg you like, mix it up each time, and I can almost guarantee you that it will be delicious, and veggie packed and amazing!!!