MOUNT PEARL, NL — Luckily I have a few fellow foodies at work. Danielle, who shared some fresh lime leaves from her lime tree when I couldn’t find them in the store for my Thai soup recipe, and Shannon, whose mother, Virginia, made several of the recipes from this column with her granddaughter, Emily.
I am told they love to gather in the kitchen on Sundays to spend time together while cooking family meals. Is there anything better than hearing about families bonding over the simple art of cooking and baking?
Warms my heart.
There is no doubt that preparing and eating food is much more than a full belly.
“The most indispensable ingredient of all good home cooking: love for those you cook for.”
— Sophia Loren
I got a small slice of their homemade lasagna and my taste buds literally melted – in a good way. It is filled with comforting ingredients and flavors. What really struck me is that it is not made with the traditional red tomato sauce. Instead, you make a bechamel sauce from scratch. Another difference for me, it’s made with a mix of ground veal (or ground beef) and ground pork. Oh, it also has delicious pancetta in it.
Given my response, Shannon came in the next day with a handwritten prescription from her mother.
I was so excited. Not just to receive a wonderful handwritten recipe (which deserves a column in its own right), but because I couldn’t wait to make it for my mom, who rarely has tomatoes in her diet anymore due to the sour nature of the fruit.
Yes, tomato is a fruit.
Full disclosure, there are way too many ingredients and steps to write it all down.
As you can tell from the title, it’s called Lucy Waverman’s Lasagna. I googled this and finally found it in a Globe and Mail article, as Lucy Waverman is an author, food journalist and columnist who wrote about this lasagna in 2005 with the title A Lasagna to Love.
So true, Lucy, so true.
Essentially, this recipe consists of three parts. There is the ingredients for the meat sauce, bechamel sauce and lasagna noodles.
The special thing about this recipe is that you need time by your side. It’s the kind of recipe that’s perfect to make on a day when you have the last part of the afternoon or early evening to cook at your leisure and not be rushed or stressed. You know the kind – where you just want to chill out, pour a glass of wine and enjoy making it instead of treating it like a chore.
Remember, lasagna ages nicely just like spaghetti, so you might want to make it a day ahead.
“I’ve never met a lasagna I didn’t like.”
— Jim Davis
The meat sauce is divine. I mean, come on, anything made from scratch is 100 percent better. The meat sauce is filled with flavors of olive oil, pancetta, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, pork, beef, white wine, canned tomatoes, beef stock and tomato paste.
In my humble opinion, the bechamel sauce really gives this lasagna recipe five gold foodie stars. It’s so simple, but absolutely delicious when paired with the meat sauce. It contains butter, flour, milk, a bay leaf and a pinch of nutmeg.
I used dried noodles. I also learned a helpful tip by layering the parboiled noodles on parchment paper when ready. That way they are easier to handle when applying the lasagna. If not, they would end up in a sieve that is all messed up and will likely tear if you try to take them apart.
“People who love food are always the best people.” — Julia Child
From one foodie to another, I hope you enjoy Lucy Waverman’s lasagna, compliments of Virginia Stoddard. It’s great on its own as a meal, with a side of bread or salad.
However you want to serve it, it is certainly fit to eat.
Erin Sulley is a self-confessed foodie living in Mount Pearl, NL. E-mail: [email protected] Instagram: @erinsulley
2 cans of tomatoes of 796 milliliters
¼ cup olive oil
2 ounces pancetta, chopped
2 cups chopped onion
½ cup chopped carrots
½ cup chopped celery
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
1 pound ground veal
1 pound ground pork
Salt and freshly ground pepper
½ cup white wine
2 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup butter
½ cup flour
6 cups of milk
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
14 lasagna noodles (approx)
1 recipe béchamel sauce
1 recipe meat sauce
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
Cut the tomatoes into pieces and reserve. (Juices can be saved for another recipe.)
Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add pancetta and fry for 1 minute.
Add onions, carrots and celery and cook gently for 10 minutes or until vegetables are very tender and starting to brown. Stir in the garlic and parsley and cook for a further 3 minutes.
Increase the heat to medium. Add veal and pork, stirring to break up lumps of ground meat. Sauté until the meat loses its pink color, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add wine and cook until wine has mostly evaporated and mixture is juicy, about 4 minutes. Stir in stock, tomato paste, and reserved tomatoes.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 1½ hours, then remove the lid and turn the heat to medium-high. Sauce should be thick and very tasty.
Let it simmer for a few minutes if it’s too thin. Re-season if necessary. Makes about 9 cups of sauce.
Heat butter over medium heat in a heavy saucepan. When the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute or until the flour is set, taking care not to brown the flour.
Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the milk.
Add bay leaf, return to heat and bring to a boil, stirring. Season well with salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Makes about 6 cups.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Add the noodles and bring to a boil again. Cook according to package directions, usually about 10 minutes. Drain the noodles and, using tongs, lay them in a single layer on a kitchen towel or parchment paper.
Butter or oil a 9-by-13-inch ovenproof gratin dish.
Spread a thin layer of béchamel sauce on the bottom.
Divide the remaining bechamel sauce and meat sauce into 3 portions.
Cover the béchamel layer with noodles. Top noodles with one-third of the bechamel sauce and one-third of the meat sauce. Sprinkle with ½ cup Parmesan cheese.
Repeat the layers twice and finish with meat sauce. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and drizzle with butter.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Bake pasta in top third of oven for 45 minutes or until crust forms on top and filling is bubbling. Cover loosely with foil for the last 10 minutes if the lasagna gets too dark.