Last year, I was sent a review copy of Nadine Redzepi’s cookbook, Downtime: Deliciousness At Home. Whilst husband René is wowing the world with creations for his restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, his wife Nadine is the main cook at home, and over the years, she has collated a collection of recipes that are perfect for home cooks looking for ideas that are tasty yet still simple enough for a weekday meal.
This unusual twist on a classic lasagne recipe is already a favourite for us, and not too complicated to make, though it does take a little time. Nadine explains that she developed the recipe after her oldest daughter requested lasagne when her playgroup friends came over for dinner. Nadine was keen to create a recipe that was a little less heavy on the cheese but still absolutely full of flavour.
She succeeded; it’s a delicious recipe!
Lasagne with Sausage Meatballs
- 90 ml olive oil, extra virgin
- 2 onions
- 8 garlic cloves
- 800 g minced beef
- 1200 g tinned whole peeled tomatoes in juice (3 x 400 g tins)
- Fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black bepper
- 110 g salted butter
- 70 g plain flour
- 950 ml whole milk, full fat
- Fine sea salt
- 450 g sweet Italian pork sausage
- 450 g pre-cooked pasta sheets
- 225 g Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
We used regular chopped tinned tomatoes instead of tinned whole ones.
We also used uncooked pasta sheets rather then pre-cooked; they were labelled as not requiring to be cooked before assembly of the lasagne. Figuring that they may soak up a little more liquid than pre-cooked sheets, we left the meat sauce a little sloppy.
Nadine's original recipe calls for 5 layers of meat (and meatball) sauce, with 4 layers of béchamel and cheese. As our baking dish was large and shallow, we reduced by one layer and used more meat sauce, béchamel and cheese in each layer. I've re-written the instructions for this module of the recipe for clarity.
As our dish was a rounded one, we snapped some of the pasta sheets into pieces to better cover the full surface area for each layer.
Make the meat sauce
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large casserole dish over medium-high heat. Chop the onions, adding them to the pan as you go. Do not stir until the onions are beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they turn a deep golden brown, about 3 minutes more.
Crush the garlic cloves with the flat side of your knife and discard the paper skins. Coarsely chop the garlic and stir it into pan.
Push the onion mixture to one side of the pan and add two more tablespoons of the oil. Crumble the minced beef into the pan, avoiding the onions. Let the meat cook for 2 minutes to lightly brown on the bottom.
Using a wooden spatula, break up the meat and stir it into the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is browned, about 8 minutes.
Add the tomatoes with their juices and stir to combine, crushing the tomatoes with the spatula.
Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until it has thickened slightly, about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the remaining oil. Season to taste. (Stirring in a bit of extra oil will help emulsify the sauce and give it more body).
Preheat the oven to 180 °C (160 °C Fan).
Make the béchamel
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.
Gradually whisk in the flour to make a thick, paste-like roux. Let it bubble for a about a minute but don't let it brown.
Raise the heat to medium. Gradually whisk in the milk.
Simmer over low medium-low heat, whisking often and making sure the bottom doesn't scorch, until it is lightly thickened and smooth, about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and season with salt.
Make the sausage meatballs
Place a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
Squeeze the sausage meat out of the casings, forming it into small balls.
Add them to the pan and cook until they are lightly browned and their fat has rendered.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage balls to the meat sauce and combine gently.
Make the lasagne
Spread a fifth of the meat and meatballs sauce across the bottom of a 23 x 33-cm baking dish. Top with a layer of the pasta sheets and cover with another layer of meat sauce.
Spoon a quarter of the béchamel over the meat sauce.
Sprinkle with a quarter of the grated Parmigiano.
Repeat to make three more layers.
Bake the lasagne until it is bubbling and browned, about 50 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let stand for 20 minutes before serving. (Don't cut into the lasagne too soon or it will fall apart when you serve it. Even 20 minutes isn't too long a resting period, and it will still be hot).
Although this lasagne recipe is lighter on cheese than the classic version, it’s absolutely delicious. The richly flavoured meat sauce feels more decadent because of those darling little meatballs!
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Kavey Eats received a review copy of Downtime: Deliciousness at Home by Nadine Redzepi from publisher Ebury Press.