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 JoziStyle is broadcast on Radio Today, DStv 869, and live-streamed on www.rt1485.com every Friday at 1 PM. You can follow JoziStyle on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. We’re talking about what to eat, where to go, and who to know in Jozi!

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The Art of Lasagna: A Love Letter to Layers of Flavour

Sotto-Sopra-lasagne-DineJoziStyle-Edward-Chamberlain-Bell
My favourite combination of lasagna and salad at Sotto Sopra restaurant.


Today, we’re diving into the glorious world of homemade lasagna. I know that some of you might be thinking that lasagna is either too much effort or a frozen emergency meal but when lasagna is done right, it is a symphony of flavour and texture, and a labour of love that nourishes the soul as much as the stomach.

I have zero patience for shortcuts when it comes to lasagna. Pre-made sauce? Forget about it. Lasagna deserves better, and so do you. We’re talking about layers upon layers of rich bolognese, a creamy, dreamy béchamel sauce, and mountains of gooey cheese. Lasagna isn’t a quick weeknight dinner; lasagna is an experience.

The first step is gathering your ingredients. This isn’t the time to be shy with quality. We’re talking lean ground beef (or a mix of beef and pork, if you prefer), and fresh, vibrant vegetables like celery, carrot, and onion – the holy trinity of lasagna flavour, in my book. Don’t forget the tomatoes – a combination of canned, pureed, and maybe even a touch of sundried tomato pesto for a real depth of flavour.

Now, let’s talk about the bolognese. This isn’t a quick simmer job. We’re going low and slow, baby. At least a couple of hours, letting those flavours meld and deepen. A splash of red wine adds a touch of magic, and don’t be afraid to season generously. This is the heart and soul of your lasagna, so make it sing!

While the bolognese simmers, I turn my attention to the béchamel. Some folks might call it a white sauce, but béchamel has a certain je ne sais quoi, wouldn’t you agree? It’s all about the technique – butter, and flour whisked together until smooth, then slowly incorporating warmed milk. Patience is key here; you don’t want any lumps. I confess I have a weakness for customization. Sometimes, I go classic, but other times, I might add a dollop of mustard for a bit of a kick, or even cream cheese and extra thick cream for a truly decadent experience. Lasagna is all about personal expression, after all.

Now, about those layers. This is where the magic happens. Forget skimping! Generous dollops of bolognese, a good slather of béchamel, and a sprinkle of cheese – yes, I said sprinkle. We’ll get to the cheese mountain later. Here’s a little trick I learned: instead of meticulously spreading the sauces, I might plop dollops of bolognese here and there, then smooth it out with the next layer of lasagna sheets. This creates these wonderful pockets of intense flavour throughout the dish.

Baking time: Once it’s golden brown and the cheese is gloriously gooey, it’s time to take it out and let it rest. This allows the flavours to meld even further, creating a truly unforgettable experience.

Lasagna is undeniably rich, so I like to pair it with a simple green salad. Arugula for a peppery kick, some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers for a touch of sweetness, and a light vinaigrette dressing. It’s the perfect counterpoint to the richness of the lasagna, cleansing your palate between bites.

My lasagna is an ode to slow cooking, quality ingredients, and of course, a little bit of creative freedom. Lasagna isn’t just a recipe; it’s an invitation to explore, to experiment, and to create your own lasagna masterpiece.

Now, tell me, what are your favourite lasagna secrets? What do you love to serve alongside it?

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