Probably one of my favourite foods is Lasagna. I only really started to eat it after I met Mr. Grad all those years ago. I grew up in a very poor family with 6 children and parents who couldn't work due to illness so we tended to eat what we could afford which meant a lot of potatoes, stews, cheap meats etc nothing very fancy. I was 13 before I even ate a strawberry! 22 before I tasted cherries for the first time and 24 before I ate an aubergine! The list is endless really, I am still discovering foods that seems so exotic to me but you see everywhere! Lasagna was way off the list as a kid, beef was too expensive and fresh pasta sheets pretty much unheard of. We were more of a shepherds pie kind of family, which is still my go to comfort food.
But Lasagna... I'd had Lasagna before but it was the ready meal kind, you know, way too salty, way too mushy and far too many calories. I never really liked it until I tried the real deal. Proper Italian lasagna made by a proper Italian Mamma. One bite and I was in heaven, oh the delicious savoury yet slightly sweet meat sandwiched between layers of handmade pasta, oozing creamy bechamella sauce. Sooo good!! It's also one of Mr. Grad's favourite foods so I had to get down to making it!
It took me a while to find a recipe that really hit that sweet spot, there were a few requirements. Primarily, no celery. In my humble opinion celery has no place in a lasagna, or anything else for that matter! I've never eaten a Lasagna in Italy that's had this monstrous thing in it. It's probably one of the most disgusting things I can think of, seriously just... ugh. Béchamel sauce is a must it's not lasagna without it and none of this fancy schmancy one with cheese and goodness knows what else, yeah I've even seem some with celery in it, what is up with that?? Why would you do that? Just a simple, traditional Béchamel is what you want.
So I had a search around and found this Jamie Oliver recipe. The meat sauce totally hit the spot, the creamy sauce, not so much but I just ignore that! Seriously butternut squash? Just... no. So a few adaptations later and I had this Lasagna to serve to the almost in-laws. Nervous? moi? you betcha! But... it's probably the one thing that I've cooked that really turned the almost in-laws opinion, the meal that said 'I can take care of your son.' It was incredibly delicious and they quickly suggested that I could open a restaurant with this dish. High praise indeed!!
I mean look at it, all golden and bubbly and steaming hot with the gooey Béchamel and Mozzarella oozing out and those beautiful crispy bits on the edges that taste soooo good. What more could you want?? It's perfect for these cold winter nights!
So without further ado I give you Lasagna!