TheFoodsFool

Feel good food, borderline healthy

Lasagne

Lasagne

So many of us these days reach for the already prepared jars of sauces to make a lasagne. But honestly, for the sake of another spoon and pot to throw into the dishwasher, a lasagne made from scratch (except for the pasta of course) is ten times tastier, and on thousand times more satisfying knowing you made this without the help of a certain  italian puppet family you would occasionally see on TV  trying to sell you sauces.

The tomato based meat sauce (Ragù) for this can too be a perfectly suitable Bolognese sauce.

Another little point, this lasagne serves my very hungry family, with leftovers, so this recipe can be reduced to your preferred scale as you so wish.

Serves 9

Ingredients:

For Ragù

1KG Minced Beef

2 Onions (Diced)

2 Peppers (Red and/or Yellow) (Chopped)

1 stick celary (Finely chopped)

250g Mushrooms (Chopped)

2 Tins of Tomato

100g Tomato Puree

4 tablespoons Olive Oil (Extra Vigin)

2 cloves Garlic

3 Basil Leaves

3 teaspoons Oregano

3 teaspoons Parsley

1 teaspoon Chilli Flakes (Optional)

1 Beef (or Vegetable) stock cube (Crushed)

Salt and Black Pepper to taste

For White (Béchamel) Sauce

600ml Milk (Full Fat)

60g Plain Flour

60g Butter

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (Grated)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Other

1 packet Lasagne Sheets (the amount varies by the size of the dish but a standard packet should be more than enough)

Grated Parmesan (a lot)

1 large ball Mozzarella (Finely chopped)

Chopped Parsley (for show)

Method:

  1. In a large pot add the oil, garlic and onion and let to simmer. Then add the mince and some salt and pepper seasoning.
  2. Once the meat is cooked full through turn the ring to a lower heat, add the veg (mushrooms, peppers and celary), and let cook for 5 mins. Stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the cans of tomato, tomato puree, basil, oregano, parsley, chilli flakes and stock cube and stir until the meat, veg and sauce have combined to a thick meaty sauce.
  4. Drop the ring to a very low heat and let the sauce simmer for a minimum of 45 minutes. Stirring occasionally. Of course the longer you leave this sauce to cook the better it will taste. If possible cooking the sauce for 2 hours would be ideal.
  5. Add seasoning to taste.
  6. Once satisfied with your ragù, it is time to prepare your Béchamel sauce. At this time you should pre heat your oven to 200°C/ 400°F/ Gas Mark 6. Then, in a pan, add the milk, butter, nutmeg and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook on a low heat until the butter is fully melted.
  7. Once melted add the flour. Stir vigorously to avoid floury lumps. Once you have reached the desired thick sauce like consistency take the pan off the heat.
  8. In a large lasagne dish add some of your ragù, (1/2 of the sauce), then add the lasagne sheets, making sure to cover all of the sauce. Next add a thick coating of the béchamel over the sheets (1/2 of the sauce), and grate over a generous helping of parmesan. Then repeat, with Ragù>Lasagne sheets>Béchamel. (I would get two layers usually)
  9. Once the dish is filled, generously spread the mozzarella and another healthy helping of grated parmesan.
  10. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes and a further 10 minutes under the grill. (Allow to stand for 30 minutes)
  11. Sprinkle over a helping of chopped parmesan, and serve.

Notes:

  • The lasagne dish gets extremely hot so take care when taking it out of the oven and grill.
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Tomato, Bean and Basil Soup

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This recipe is the perfect case of low effort requirement, high impact, of both health and taste.

You literally chop and throw everything into a pot, cook, blend and it’s done.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium sized Carrots (Thinly sliced)

1 Red Pepper (Roughly Chopped)

1/2 Yellow Pepper (Roughly Chopped)

1 Red Onion (Diced)

1 stalk Celery (Thinly sliced)

2 cans Chopped Tomatos

1 can Kidney Beans

2 cloves Garlic

700ml Vegetable Stock (Simply add two Veg Stock Cubes to 700ml of Boiling Water and stir)

1 tablespoon Oregano (Dried)

1 tablespoon Parsley (Fresh or Dried)

4 large Basil Leaves

Salt and Black Pepper to season

Method:

  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil, garlic and onion on a high heat until sizzling.
  2. Switching to a lower heat, add the peppers, carrots and celery. Cover and leave to cook for 5 minutes. (I’d advise adding a tiny amount of water to prevent burning the ingredients)
  3. Uncover the pot and add the vegetable stock, tinned tomatoes and kidney beans (making sure to rinse these first). Stir and cook for a further 10 minutes, adding the basil, oregano and parsley.
  4. Blend the contents of the pot until you have no lumps of veg left and season accordingly.

Notes

  • This soup is taken to a whole new level served with a light sprinkling of parmesan cheese

Italian Traybake

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This is literally the perfect Friday evening, ‘lazy’ meal. Honestly, the hardest part of this is peeling the onions.

 

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

6 Chicken Fillets (Butterflied)

150g Chorizo (Chopped into thick slices)

1 Red Pepper (Coarsely chopped)

1 Yellow Pepper (Coarsely chopped)

1 Red Onion (Diced)

2 cloves Garlic (Crushed, not chopped)

2 tablespoons Dried Oregano

2 tablespoons Dried Parsley 

4 Basil Leaves

Parmesan Cheese to taste

Black Pepper to season

 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
  2. Add the garlic and onion to a large baking tray.
  3. To butterfly the chicken breasts, place the breast on a chopping board. With the knife parallel to the board, slice down lengthways on the chicken breast. The breast should then open out like a book. Gently flatten the breast down and add to the baking tray.
  4. Once you have added the chicken throw everything else into the tray (Red\Yellow Peppers and Chorizo).
  5. Sprinkle over the oregano, parsley and basil leaves evenly and grate a light coating of parmesan over the whole tray.
  6. Place the tray in the oven and cook for 30 minutes

 

Notes:

  • How to Serve:
  1. On a bed of Rocket Lettuce
  2. With chopped roast potatoes. In a hot, lightly oiled oven tray add 10 (a tray full) of roughly diced potatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Do not add salt. If you’re like me this will go against every cooking fibre of your being not to season your meal with salt, before or after cooking, but there is no need. The Chorizo in the tray-bake emits oil and a punch of saltiness once cooked in the oven that is plenty enough salt seasoning.

 

 

Banana Bread

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I have been cooking different versions of this banana bread and tweaking it to make it as healthy as possible without compromising the taste. This recipe is what pushed me to start this blog and hence is why I designated it to be my first post. My family love this recipe and I’m lucky to find even a slice left in the morning.

 

If you are not a fan of dried fruit this recipe can be easily switched to a very simple chocolate cake/bread be replacing 25g (3 tablespoons) of the flour with cocoa and replacing the fruit with 100-125g of dark chocolate, finely chopped.

 

Ingredients:

75g plain flour

75g porridge oats (and not the quick oats, they’re horrid)

25g milled flaxseed

2 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoon mixed spice (or just cinnamon)

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda

1/2 teaspoon salt 

125g butter (melted) (or margarine, which I think is slightly healthier?) 

150g sugar (1/4-1/2 of this sugar can be substituted for honey)

2 large bananas (mashed) (the riper the better, I promise)

2 large eggs

50g walnuts (chopped) (If you prefer these can be substituted with 60g raisins or sultanas)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas Mark 3/325°F
  2. Add all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl (flour, oats, flaxseed, bicarb, baking soda, mixed spice and salt) and mix well
  3. Melt the butter on a low heat. In another large bowl add the sugar. Once all the butter is melted add it to the sugar and mix. Then, beat your two eggs into this mixture.
  4. Once this is mixed into quite a wet texture, stir in the mashed banana, walnuts and sultanas and add the vanilla extract.
  5. Then, start gently mixing in the dry mixture (I usually add about 1/3 of the mixture at a time). The final result should be a wet and thick batter. Just a word of caution, do not over-mix as it will not rise once in the oven.
  6. Lightly grease a loaf tin (23x13x7cm/ 9x5x3inches) (Instead of greasing the tin you can line the tin with grease-proof paper, this works wonders if you find it difficult, like myself, to remove the cake from the tin)
  7. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and put in the oven for 45mins to 1 hour. The timing usually varies but an easy way to tell if the cake is done is, remove from the oven and stick a toothpick into the thickest part of the cake (usually the ends). If the toothpick comes out clean it is done. If it leaves some batter residue, it is not.
  8. Remove from the oven and once it is cool, remove from the tin and place on a rack.

The cake is not much of a spectacle to behold and be in awe of, so if you like, you can lightly dust the top with icing sugar.

If you’ve tried the recipe, have any suggestions, or even suggested recipes you would like me to attempt, just leave your comments below.

Happy baking and Enjoy!