Whilst washing a batch of courgettes that had survived the vicious Slugs of Doom that have invaded my tiny garden, I was lamenting the fact that my love for lasagne is massively outweighed by me hardly ever making it. Suddenly all became clear and a genius idea occurred to me, why not combine the two in a pretty little ball of lasagne-y loveliness?
Courgettes are without doubt my favourite veg to grow, not only do they give me loads of virtually free food for several months but (luckily) there are so many ways to eat them. They take on all of the flavours that you put with them, and when it comes to flavours give me some cheese, garlic, chilli and wine and I'm a very happy lady indeed - throw some mince in there too and we are talking seriously happy eating. If you can't find round courgettes (they sell them in Sainsburys) then just use marrows instead and lay them on their side and slice the top off to use as a long lid. This would also work really well with butternut squash, or any squash really.
I've used a really simple meat mixture but you can adapt it in whatever way you fancy really. Veggie versions are fab and stuffing them with leftover risotto is also brilliant (obviously keep the cheese sauce though as you can NEVER have too much cheese sauce in my opinion). I used a packet mix of cheese sauce in place of béchamel for 2 reasons: one is that if I make a cheese sauce from scratch it inevitably contains a mountain of butter and cheese, and I'm trying to be kinda good at the moment to make up for all the desserts I've been eating, yes thank you Pudding Club. And two: well I just so happened to have some in my cupboard, I love cheese sauce packet mixes, they are a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine to be honest.
- 4 round courgettes (or marrows or squash for that matter!)
- tagliardi pasta (a thin flat pasta that looks like a square crisp) if you can't find any just use lasagne sheets snapped into quarters.
- glug of olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 250g lean beef mince
- big pinch dried chilli flakes
- a of handful sliced mushrooms
- glug of red wine
- mug of hot beef stock
- salt and pepper
- few pinches of dried herbs (such as sage/thyme/oregano, whatever you like in a bolognese will work well)
- 2 x packets cheese sauce
- 400ml milk
- Preheat your oven to 180C. Wash your courgettes then slice off the tops and carefully scoop out the insides leaving a few mm. Chop up the courgette flesh that you have scooped out to use later.
- Cook your pasta for about 4 minutes in boiling water then drain, toss through a bit of olive oil to stop it from sticking together whilst you get on with the rest.
- Fry your onion and garlic in a bit of oil then add your mince and brown. Add your chilli flakes, reserved courgette, dried herbs and mushrooms and continue to cook for about 3 minutes, it will become quite dry so when it does add your wine and stock then reduce the heat and cook gently until all the liquid is absorbed. Taste and season with salt, pepper and any more herbs that you feel it needs.
- Make your cheese sauce. Put both packets into a saucepan, add a bit of your milk and stir until the lumps go then add the rest of the milk and cook until nice and thick. I usually add extra garlic and chilli flakes to my cheese sauce too.
- To assemble just layer the meat then sauce (be generous with the cheese sauce) then pasta and repeat until the courgette is full and making sure you end with a layer of cheese sauce. Pop the lids back on and bake in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes then remove the lids and cook until the cheese sauce browns.