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Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Gorgeous pasta dish!


Ingredients to serve 4 large or 6 smaller portions

6 sheets of pre-cooked lasagna (104g) 360 cals
450g good beef mince (fat poured off) 837 cals
160g onions 67 cals
120g mushrooms 26 cals
Tablespoon tomato puree 14 cals
Tin chopped tomatoes 88 cals
15g cornflour 60 cals
250ml semi skimmed milk 125 cals
20g parmesan/cheddar mix for the top 80 cals
Mixed herbs to taste
Salt & pepper

One oblong baking dish 20 x 30cm - you can use a square dish, or anything that accommodates the length of the pasta sheet (18cm) so you don't have to break it up.

Fry the mince and pour off the fat. Fry the onions in a little oil until soft then add as much garlic as you like and add to the mince. Stir in some dried provencal herbs and pep this up with some of your own herbs if you have any. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes and tomato puree. At this stage you could add any odd bits of left over red or white wine to give the dish a bit of oompfhhh (no, I haven't drunk any yet).

Now layer the ingredients. Bottom layer is the mince, then 3 sheets of dry lasagne, sprinkle with salt and pepper and add a layer of UNCOOKED sliced mushrooms. Why bother cooking the mushrooms and soaking up lots of fat? They stay quite chunky if you add them raw, and cook through nicely in the oven. Put another layer of mince on top of the mushrooms. Repeat and finish with a layer of mince.

Put this half done dish into the oven once it has been covered with FOIL. This will steam/bake and soften all the ingredients. The pasta especially. I cooked it for around half an hour on 180 degrees. During this time I made the white sauce.

For the white sauce, mix the cornflour (which I prefer to ordinary plain flour as it is less likely to go lumpy, and has a cleaner taste in my opinion) with a little of the cold milk. Then add a little oil - about 2 teaspoons. Put on cooker and DO NOT LEAVE THIS TO IT'S OWN DEVICES or it will turn into superglue and ruin the day. Keep stirring all the time, and slowly add the rest of the milk. Once you have a quite runny yet thick mixture and it has gently simmered for a few minutes, add some seasoning (and a little bit of grated cheese if you fancy). Pour sauce over the dish and finish with the 20g of grated parmesan/cheddar or whatever strong cheese you want. Then put back in the oven, uncovered until brown - about half an hour to 3/4 hour more. Enjoy. It freezes perfectly if you are cooking more than you need. At around £1 for a large portion, it won't break the bank, and is relatively easy to make.

It smells so inviting I can't wait to eat this lasagne. 

Interestingly this lovely dish will only cost 276 calories if divided into 6 portions (which I have done in the past), but if dividing into 4 portions, that's still only 414 calories! What strikes me about this, is my version of lasagne is so much lower in calories than any pre-packed version (mine works out at about 1 calorie per gram in weight). Why? Well, I think the pre-packed stuff contains so much oil and cheese - just to give it some flavour. So what am I doing to counteract this, and still come up with a tasty tasty meal.

The first thing is - good ingredients. We planned to make this dish at the weekend, so had already bought some good butchers minced beef. I also went to the supermarket and hassled the deli counter girls for EXACTLY what I needed. I think it's quite possible they are beginning to dread when I turn up. But, I'm paying for things, so I get to choose. I picked up some exciting strong aged cheddar that was on offer, and requested 75g. The girl weighed some out and apologisingly offered me 110g. I refused - nicely - and said I had some recipes to make up. So off she went and came back with a smaller portion. I don't get to have bits of cheese hanging around the fridge waiting to be eaten and I save a lot of money.
If you would like to know more about how we have achieved our fabulous weight loss eating all this wonderful food - see OUR IDEA

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