Due to a lack of affordable (and authentic) Italian restaurants when I was growing up in Singapore, I’ve only tasted authentic lasagne for the first time when I was 18. In fact I could barely pronounce it. Le…Zaa… Nia? I used to think that making lasagne was extremely laborious, a la the Nonya kueh lapis where you must actually prepare the different layers separately. Well, the truth is not too far from that but it’s definitely a lot simpler than making kueh lapis!
Readers from the UK would be familiar with Sainsbury’s, a large supermarket chain in the country, akin to NTUC in Singapore. As students on a budget, we often try to suss out the cheapest deals that give us the most bang for a buck, and today we’d put ourselves up to the challenge by making a mushroom and beef lasagne using only ingredients from the Sainsbury’s Basics range!
For the uninitiated, the Sainsbury’s Basics range looks like that:
Most distinctive from the simple orange and white packaging! From fresh fruits to ready-made pasta to spices to toilet paper, it’s a fairly comprehensive range of budget products. The Basics range is a poor student’s best friend because the items tend to be so much cheaper although understandably they aren’t always of tip-top quality. However, a meal for less than a dollar sounds too attractive to resist isn’t it? Today we’ll demonstrate how to make a fuss-free and delicious lasagne, from scratch, using only ingredients from the Basics range! :)
Ingredients for All Basics Lasagne: Serves 4
All Basics Lasagne
1/2 pack Lasagne Sheets
3/4 pack British Beef Mince
1/2 box Mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 pack Chopped Tomatoes in Tomato Juice
1/4 pack Mild Grated Cheddar
Eggwhite of 1, Barn Eggs pack of 6
Chopped onions, a handful
Chopped garlic, a pinch
1 tablespoon Salted Butter
Salt, a pinch
Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Mixed Herbs, to taste
Step-By-Step: “All Basics Lasagne”
Step 1: Soak Lasagne sheets in hot water + Brown the meat
Soak Lasagne sheets in hot water for a good 10-15 minutes until it turns soft but still firm.
At medium heat, melt a tablespoon of butter. First brown the onions, then the garlic. Don’t attempt throw both in together – Garlic burns at a lower temperature than onion so you might end up with burnt bitter garlic!
After getting a golden-brown mixture of garlic and onions, brown the marinated beef mince. We marinated ours with corn starch, brown sauce, pepper, salt and sugar for about 1 hour. Feel free to marinate it according to your liking, but be sure to use cornstarch to prevent the meat from getting too tough and chewy. And marinate for at least 30 minutes for the flavour to seep into the meat!
Now add in the chopped tomatoes…
And a generous lashing of herbs and black pepper, but as you can see I have been too generous with it – Don’t be like me!
It’s simmering in its own juices… And it’ll be done in a jiffy in about 5 minutes! Leave aside.
Step 2: Layer it on!
Any standard-size Lasagne dish should do. Do a proper job with the greasing using butter. Or if you’re lazy like us, use the grease from the browned beef mince… Looks quite oily we know *guilt*.
Get ready the sliced mushrooms and grated cheese layer. The egg white helps to hold the mushrooms and cheese together – However it is purely optional, leave it out if you think you’d like it without the egg.
How does a Lasagne layer up?!
Just try to ensure that the layers of meat and layers of mushrooms are approximately the same. The Lasagne sheets should go in between. And we recommend that the bottom should contain one or two Lasagne sheets in case it gets messy when you try to get it out from the tin!
Bake in pre-heated oven at Gas Mark 5 for 30-45 minutes until the top layer of cheese melts into a gooey plateau and turns into a lovely shade of golden brown!
Like this. Now isn’t this sweet!
Note: By all means, supplement Basics ingredients with others – Think Basics Lasagne sheets with free-range lean beef, or with mature cheddar! That would improve the taste for fussy eaters. If not, an All Basics meal is economically attractive and actually possible – Do you have any suggestions for other All Basics meals? Feel free to comment with your suggestions and we’ll put ourselves up to the challenge! :)
Posted by #phangchewfat