Working in hospitality when I first moved to Sydney I learned quickly that “Would you like tomahto on your sandwich” caused many less confused looks than an America-land ‘tomayto‘ when asked across the counter of a cafe… Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.
Now we all know I don’t eat meat, so what am I doing making a Meaty Lasagne? And for that matter what am I doing spelling Lasagne with an ‘e’ instead of Lasagna with an ‘a’? Well on the first one, I told RJ that for his birthday I would cook anything he wanted.
On the second one, who knows, but I automatically type the ‘e’ and both are correct so I’m sticking with it, tomayto, tomahto.
Now I don’t mind cooking meat – I just don’t eat it myself – and if you are going to make one lasagne you may as well make two. So a lazy Saturday afternoon back in June [yikes, am I that far behind? um, yes] saw Vegetarian Pumpkin Lasagne for me and a Beef & Chicken Lasagne for RJ emerge from the kitchen.
As for the lighter bit, it was right around the same time that Chobani sent me some goodies and a couple tickets for the Sydney Good Food & Wine Show. Meditating for a bit on what to do with an enormous quantity of Greek yoghurt it occurred to me I could substitute the ricotta and bechamel sauce in a lasagne with a layer of yoghurt. I’d done it the past but had always strained the yoghurt overnight for Yoghurt Cheese, Chobani is really thick so I didn’t need the extra step. The next thing I did was to substitute some of the beef with chicken mince and use whole spelt noodles…
While I’m sure RJ probably meant traditional, cheese-laden, heart attack-inducing lasagne when he requested it, he ate this one with gusto for his birthday dinner and a number of lunches afterward. Of course there is every chance some surprise Steamed Apple Cupcakes made an appearance too, it was a celebration after all and you can’t fight the requirement of cake for a birthday. There’s logic in there somewhere, just go with the flow.
Beef & Chicken Lasagne
This hearty pasta dish is lightened up with thick natural yoghurt instead of ricotta or bechamel, and some chicken mince mixed in with the beef. The noodles are layered-in un-cooked and everything melds together as it bakes. Re-heat with a bit of extra sauce poured over the top.
- 150 g [1/3 lb or 5.25 oz] lean beef mince
- 150 g [1/3 lb or 5.25 oz] chicken mince
- 1 brown onion, diced
- 6-8 dried whole spelt lasagne sheets
- 3 c tomato passata*, divided
- 1 1/2 c natural greek yoghurt
- 1 egg
- 1/2 c grated sheep Pecorino or Parmesan, divided
- 1 c grated semi-hard cheese like goat chevette or provolone*
- 2-3 Tbsp mixed Italian herbs, divided
- Sea salt
- 1 c picked basil leaves, packed
Preheat oven to 180C [350F].
Sautee onion in a splash of olive oil over medium heat for 3 minutes until soft. Add beef and chicken mince and breakup with a wooden spoon. Stir regularly until just cooked. If necessary, drain off any oil but keep the juices. Stir through all but 1/4 cup of tomato sauce and simmer 3 minutes.
Whisk together egg and yoghurt with half the grated Parmesan and set aside. Keep remaining Parm for the last few minutes of cooking. Toss the grated semi-hard cheese with 1 Tbsp Italian herbs.
Spread half the reserved sauce in a thin layer on the base of a 22×33 cm [9×13 in] ceramic baking dish.
1/3 of the pasta sheets, breaking pieces off an extra sheet as necessary to fill gaps
1/3 of the tomato meat sauce
1/2 of the yoghurt mixture, dollop and spread carefully
1/3 of the Italian herbs and sea salt
1/2 of the basil leaves
1/3 of the grated cheese
Repeat a second time in the same order, then finish with remaining pasta, meat sauce, reserved sauce, herbs and cheese.
Coat a large piece of aluminum foil with oil spray and crimp over the pan. Bake covered in pre-heated oven for 1 hour. Remove foil, sprinkle over remaining grated Parmesan and return to oven for 5-10 minutes until just browned.
Allow to cool before cutting into 8 pieces. Serve with extra sauce and a side salad.
Looking for a version without meat? Here’s something I prepared earlier – Vegetarian Pumpkin Lasagne.
- You can substitute the tomato passata with no-salt canned chopped tomato in juice but I am trying to avoid tomato products in cans these days due to the whole BPA thing.
- Any melt-y semi-hard cheese such as chevette goat or provolone will work just fine, however gruyere would be good too. You can of course go the standard mozzarella.
Thanks Chobani for the sample goodie pack. All opinions are my own and I was under no obligation to talk about it.