April 16, 2012

Home Made Lasagna

"What's your favorite restaurant" is the question I get asked the most.
Why? Because once they know about my profession or my blog, they assume that I have tried all restaurants in Lebanon.
But I would answer proudly: " My Mother's food?" . .. Then I add" I want to inherit her kitchen's secrets someday and become like her!"

As much as this answer might be cliche, as much as I hold more on it with time.
And those who know me, know that I always campaign for home made food.   Why would anyone  deprive  himself from the greatest pleasures in life, his own or his family's food?
Indulge your senses in this kind of food! Fresh, healthy and delicious! Don't be cheap on yourself by ordering food!

So, this month's special homemade recipe is for Lasagna! Below you will find the recipe I learnt from my mother . Yes I am sharing mom's kitchen secrets!  Lasagna is one of my favorite meals! As much as Lasagna seems complicated but the trick is trying, experimenting with it, seasoning it, layering it ! Cooking is all about taking chances  and in most cases they work out unless you end up burning your food. ( which happens twice per year to me).


The key to get the best Lasagna is getting fresh ingredients!
  1. One sachet of Mushroom Maggi Soup or Bechamel Sauce ( According to your taste)
    ( I use maggi mushroom soup since it doesnt have milk. Very good substitute for Lactose Intolerants)
  2. 1 Onion
  3. Mushrooms
  4. Green Pepper
  5. Minced Meat ( 500g) ( ground beef)
  6.  Mozerrella or Kaskhaval Cheese, Parmesan / Romano , and Ricotta !
  7.  1 Box of Lasagna Pasta
  8. Tomato Sauce or Tomato
  9.  Garlic Cloves
  10. Spices: Nutmeg, White pepper, Chili pepper(optional), mixed peppers,Marjoram.. (optional)

* You can remove meat and add spinach instead.

Step 1:Prepare the Sauce
Dissolve a packet of maggi soup according to the instructions but lessen the amount of water to half.
( If the instructions indicate 1 L of water, add 500 ml of water)
This will leave the mix like a thick paste.

Step2 Prepare the meat, vegetables, and mix spices

  • Add a spoon of olive oil in a pan. 
  • Cut onions, garlic cloves and add the minced meat in the pan to cook it.
  • Choose minced meat (ground beef) as it makes the lasagna more easier to eat and the taste will be more obvious.
  • Cook on low heat.
  • Once the meat is well-done, add the vegetables and tomato sauce. 
  • Add peppers according to your taste.

Seasoning your lasagna is the best and most creative step. So season it according to your taste. But don't overseason it otherwise the spices will overwhelm the whole taste and you will no longer sense the flavors of the cheese.

Step 3 Prepare the Lasagna Noodles
Some cook the lasagna pasta prior ( just like doing any normal pasta) for about nine minutes in boiled water. You may add a little olive oil to the water to keep the noodles from sticking together.
If you can't fit all that you need in one pot, don't worry - cook them in batches.
When the noodles are slightly underdone, take them out of the boiling water and put them immediately in cold water to arrest the cooking process. Once they are cooled, lay them out on a clean towel or wax paper.

The way I prepared it was that I didnt actually boil it , I kept raw till the next step but in that case it would need more baking time.

Step 4 : Layer the Lasagna in the Pan
I couldnt take pictures of this step as i was consumed by preparing it
Just add a layer of lasagna in the cooking pan  ( ceramic or Pyrex) . Add the layer of the meat. Add the mixture of cheese and add the sauce. Then add another layer of lasagna to cover it all.

Repeat the above steps till your serving tray is full, which is usually 3 layers.

Step 5:Bake the Lasagna

The cheese top layer should show bubbles and have this reddish color
  • Cover the pan with foil. 
  • Put the lasagna in the oven for 100 minutes on 160C if the lasagna wasnt cooked before.
  • If you cooked it before, then you can bake it for about 45 minutes. 
  • Carefully remove the foil, then put the lasagna back in the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes .
  • Make sure the cheese on top doesn't get burned. See the photo above of how the top layer should look like.

The Lasagna pan receiving no mercy from us! ;)

Bon Appetite!

Interesting Links:
History of Pasta
Lasagna History
Spices and their translations in Arabic: 

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