This lasagne should have been an orange cake. Sometimes recipes don’t go as planned.. and it’s then I have to go to ‘Plan B’.
Recently my girl & I ate at a local Spanish restaurant for the 1st time & based on that most lovely eating experience I wanted to ‘go Spanish’ for this weeks recipe. So I made a Spanish orange cake using whole oranges (I’d never used whole oranges before.. peel & all)! The cake was photographed, it looked beautiful.. in fact, the texture & appearance were better than I expected…especially since it had no fat or flour in it! However, I wasn’t happy with the taste. It was too bitter. And that was the only thing wrong with it.. the intense bitterness from the orange peel. I tried a ‘shortcut’ cooking method for the oranges which seemed too good to be true.. and well, yes it was. Next time I attempt it, I’ll have to go the longer route and aim to reduce the bitterness. The day I made the orange cake I also made this lasagne for our dinner. So I photographed it just incase I wanted to put it on my blog & as it happens.. here ’tis! It’s not a Spanish recipe.. but at least I can say the lasagne was tasty & I’d make it again in a heartbeat. It was less ‘fussy’ than my usual beef lasagne because I didn’t have to stir-away for ages making a lump-free bechamel sauce. It only has one cheesy layer on the top but to be honest.. I didn’t miss my beloved bechamel. Does anyone not like cheese sauce?
If you’d like a reduced fat, ‘healthier’ style lasagne..then consider trying this because it uses much less red meat and less cheese too without compromising on flavour at all. If you’re a pumpkin fan, then all the better!
Ready for the oven!
Lasagne with Beef, Pumpkin & Ricotta
-250grams of good quality minced beef
-1kg (approximately) of pumpkin, cooked/steamed, skin removed & mashed
-2 x 400gm tins of chopped tomatoes (I like to use tinned cherry tomatoes)
-1 tablespoon powdered chicken stock
-Fresh lasagne sheets (you won’t need more than one packet) -in fridge section of supermarket & you may had leftover sheets – I did
-250grams of ricotta (from a deli, not a pre-packaged tub)
-1/2 cup of milk (I use skim)
-1 onion, chopped
-1/2 cup of reduced fat tasty cheese
-2 to 3 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
-1 to 1.5 cups of water
-1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped finely for the topping
Salt & Pepper
-Preheat oven to 200 c or 180 c fanforced
-Prepare pumpkin and set aside to cool
-Spray a lasagne dish with oil
-Fry and soften chopped onion in a pan
-Add tinned chopped tomatoes to the pan + salt & pepper & chicken stock powder, bring to boil, then simmer for 5 minutes & add beef mince
-When mince is added, turn up the pan heat a little and break the mince down with your stirring utensil.. perhaps a wooden spoon or similar. The meat doesn’t need to be browned beforehand. By adding it to a boiling liquid mixture, the sauce will be ‘finer’..with little or no meat chunks or clusters.
-Cover pan with a lid or a piece of aluminium foil, reduce heat & simmer for 15 to 20 minutes so the beef cooks through.. stirring occasionally – then take off heat
-In the lasagne dish, ladle out some of the tomato mixture and spread it over the base.. this amount will be about 1/4 to 1/3 of the beefy tomato sauce
-Top with fresh lasagne sheets
-Add a third of your mashed pumpkin and spread all over
-Top pumpkin with beef/tomato sauce, then before you add another layer of fresh pasta, pour over about a third of a cup of water..this will ensure your pasta sheets are cooked well
-Keep repeating layers until you run out sauce & pumpkin
-The top layer should be a layer of fresh lasagne sheets before adding the ricotta mixture
-In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta and milk with a fork. Season with a little salt and white pepper.. this seasoning is optional – but I prefer it.
-Spread the ricotta mixture over the final layer of pasta, evenly sprinkle over grated cheese and parmesan and finally top with shredded fresh basil.
-Cover lasagne with foil and bake in oven for 45 minutes
-Take lasagne out of oven, remove foil & return to oven to brown the top for 5 to 10 minutes
-Serve lasagne with a salad or it’s fine just on its own.
Instead of putting fresh basil in the tomato sauce, it’s much nicer I think as a topping and you’ll know why when you get a mouthful of cheesy ricotta.
I had a choice of Kent or Grey Pumpkin the day I made this and so I went with Kent. My usual favourite butternut pumpkins looked too pale. The Kent on this occasion had the most brilliant orange colour which usually equates to ‘flavour’..and it didn’t disappoint on the palate. I might have oversteamed the pumpkin a little..hence it was a bit more watery..and it oozes out of the lasagne here. No loss of flavour however!
Less red meat.. more sweetness.. and the ’3 cheese’ topping made me want to eat all the top layer on a plate of its own!