Sausage LasagnePosted: February 15, 2014
I love it when a plan comes together AND tastes fantastic – modest opener, no? In the endless round of needing to put a family meal on the table every day, there will obviously be some things that make repeat appearances on a regular basis. In this house, it’s sausages, and much as I love the great quality ones we buy (97% pork), just grilling or cooking them in a pan gets boring – mostly boring for me to make, but also a little dull to eat week in, week out.
So here’s a variation that’s just as tasty as sausages, but, more interestingly, in an equally delicious form: Sausage Lasagne! The already seasoned sausage meat goes so well with the robust tomato sauce and flavourful white sauce and – bonus – doesn’t need hours simmering on the stove top. I already had a batch of the tomato sauce in the freezer and lasagne sheets in the cupboard, and so only needed to whip up some white sauce to bring it all together. You can assemble the lasagne the day/night before and leave it overnight for the flavours to develop, or make it and bake it all in one go – after just one hour in the oven, it’s ready. I’ve added some healthy spinach to this recipe for a splash of eye-catching green, and the strong flavours of the sauces mean that the spinach can be easily passed off as parsley to suspicious family members.
*pokerface* Not that I’d ever do that.
Moving quickly on…..
To speed things up, use your own white sauce and/or tomato sauce. I’m going to run through the recipes I used for both, purely as suggestions. The tomato sauce does freeze very well, and is then handy for rustling something up at short notice.
Important: The quantities given make a LARGE lasagne – probably enough to feed eight – quite deliberately. I highly recommend making it as is, because a) it’s really worth the effort and b) it freezes/reheats extremely well, so the remains can be frozen in individual portions for a speedy supper at short notice. If you’re cooking for yourself and/or have a small amount of freezer space, then you might want to make a half quantity and reduce the cooking time to between 30-40 minutes.
White Bechamel Sauce
The spices are optional, but they do give a more rounded flavour than just a plain milk/roux sauce.
600ml whole milk
2-3 bay leaves
1 strip of lemon zest
1/4 of a nutmeg – left in one piece
1 blade of mace
1tbs black peppercorns
40g plain flour
salt and pepper to taste
- Stick the cloves into the onion, just below the middle, so that they sit under the surface of the milk when the onion floats.
- Put the milk, onion and the rest of the flavourings into a small pan and heat slowly.
- When the mixture is almost at a boil, remove from the heat, cover and set aside to infuse until cool.
- Strain the flavourings out of the cooled milk.
- Clean the pan and return to the stove top.
- Melt the butter in the pan and stir in the flour to form a paste.
- Gradually add the milk a little at a time, stirring it smooth each time.
- When all the milk has been added, turn the heat to low and let it simmer for five minutes to ‘cook out’ the flour. If you don’t do this, your sauce will taste ‘floury’.
- Once the sauce has simmered enough, season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Cover the sauce with cling film until required. Make sure the cling film touches the surface of the sauce to prevent a skin forming.
This probably doesn’t qualify as a traditional tomato sauce, but it has a great, rich flavour that goes well with the cooked sausage and has a bonus of loads of flavoursome veggies hidden inside. This will make more sauce than you will need for the lasagne, so freeze the extra.
3 sticks celery
2tbs olive oil
100ml tomato paste
150ml red wine
1tbs dried oregano
1tbs dried basil
2 bay leaves
2 x 400ml cartons chopped tomatoes
pepper and salt to taste
- Put the onion, carrots and celery into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until finely chopped.
- Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat, and add the chopped vegetables.
- Stir over medium heat until the moisture in them has evaporated. Hint: If there’s clouds of steam rising from the pan, there’s still moisture. Stir regularly.
- When all the moisture has evaporated, add the tomato paste and stir.
- Continue stirring until the tomato paste has caramelised. It will turn from a dark red to more of a brick-coloured, orangey red.
- Add the red wine and stir thoroughly.
- Add the rest of the herbs and the chopped tomatoes and simmer over a low heat for an hour, stirring occasionally. If you have a splash guard, you might want to cover the pan to protect your stove top, but you don’t want to cover it closely – the evaporation will intensify the flavours.
- Remove the bay leaves (or not, your choice – sometimes I forget them and they get blitzed along with the rest of the ingredients – it’s not the end of the world) and puree the sauce smooth with a stick blender or by using a blender attachment on your food processor.
- Return the pureed sauce to the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble the lasagne
2 x 400g packs good quality sausages 
260g fresh baby spinach leaves
600ml tomato sauce
600ml white Bechamel sauce
250g lasagne sheets
150ml low fat creme fraiche
100g grated vintage cheddar
- Remove the sausage meat from the skins and add to a large pan.
- Stir over medium-high heat, breaking up the larger pieces of meat with a wooden soon, until it is just cooked through.
- Add the tomato sauce and bring to a simmer.
- Remove from the heat and stir through the spinach – the heat of the sauce will wilt the spinach and it will keep a lot of its glorious colour.
- Select a large dish to construct your lasagne.
- Spread a thin layer of the sausage sauce in the bottom of the dish.
- Add a layer of lasagne sheets over the top. Feel free to break the sheets up in order to make them fit.
- Add a layer of meat sauce, then a layer of white sauce.
- Continue layering until all the components have been used up.
- OPTIONAL: I like to use a top layer of low fat creme fraiche and a sprinkling of cheese, in order to give a little sharp tang to what is a rather rich dish. You can, of course, omit either or both and finish with the Bechamel, but to be honest, I’ve usually miscalculated and run out by the time the dish is full. :D
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
- Bake for 1 hour, until cooked through and bubbling.
To enjoy later
When the lasagne has cooled to room temperature, cut it into portion-sized pieces – as it cools, it will firm-up nicely, so the pieces should stay intact rather well. Put each piece in a ziplock bag, box or wrap in cling film and freeze.
Once defrosted, put the piece or pieces into a dish, cover with foil and put into a cold oven. Turn the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan for 20-30 minutes until heated through. You may like to sprinkle a little extra cheese on the top to freshen it up. If, after this time, you’re not sure that it’s hot enough, a quick zap in a microwave (be sure to swap the foil for cling film) for a minute or two should do the trick.
 Use a stainless steel saucepan or an enamelled cast iron pan. I’m of the opinion that the acidity in tomatoes has ruined my non-stick pans in the past, and so I’ve now banned myself from putting tomatoes into any of my non-stick pans.
 I use Sainsbury’s ultimate 97% pork sausages.
 Or greenery of your preference. Blanched kale is terribly good for you – bit more difficult to pass off as parsley, though.