Lasagne recipe: Meatball lasagne

Adam Liaw
Adam Liaw's cheesy-pleaser meatball lasagne.
Adam Liaw's cheesy-pleaser meatball lasagne. Photo: William Meppem Styling Hannah Me

As a general rule the more simple the pasta, the more you should stick with tradition. However, let's break the rules. Most Aussie families would make lasagne with cheese sauce instead of the traditional besciamella, and meatballs make a crowd-pleasing addition.

Ingredients

For mini-meatballs

500g pork mince

500g beef mince

5 slices white bread, crusts removed and torn

½ cup milk

1 egg

50g butter

1 tsp salt

For tomato sauce

¼ cup olive oil

1 large brown onion, grated

1 carrot, grated

1 stick celery, grated

2 cloves garlic, grated

2 tbsp tomato paste

3 x 400ml can diced tomatoes

2 bay leaves

½ tsp salt

freshly ground pepper, to taste

For cheese sauce

150g butter

½ cup plain flour

1 litre full-cream milk

½ tsp salt

a good pinch of ground nutmeg

2½ cups grated mozzarella cheese

250g dried lasagne sheets

1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve

Method

1. Heat your oven to 200C.

2. For the meatballs, combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a coarse paste is formed. With wet hands roll the mixture into small meatballs, no more than two centimetres in diameter. Place these on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes until the meatballs are just cooked through.

3. For the tomato sauce, heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the grated vegetables. Fry for about five to 10 minutes, stirring frequently until very fragrant. Add the tomato paste and stir fry for about two minutes, then add the tomatoes, bay leaves, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.

4. Simmer sauce partially covered for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and topping up with a little stock or water if it starts to look too dry. Add the meatballs to the sauce, stir them through gently and cook for a further 15 minutes. Then set sauce aside to cool for 20 minutes.

5. For the cheese sauce, stir the butter and flour in a medium saucepan over medium heat for two minutes until foaming, then add the milk a little at a time, stirring constantly to remove lumps until a thin sauce is produced. Simmer for five minutes, then stir in the salt, and nutmeg and stir through two cups of the cheese.

6. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and par-boil the lasagne sheets until just softened but not quite cooked through.

To assemble lasagne

7. Reduce oven to 180C. To layer the lasagne, first reserve about 15 meatballs with a small amount of sauce for topping. Place one-third of the meatball mixture in the base of a baking dish (one that's about 20 centimetres by 30 centimetres and at least seven centimetres deep).

8. Top the meatballs with a layer of lasagne sheets, then a layer of white sauce, then another layer of lasagne sheets, then repeat the layers two more times, ending with a layer of cheese sauce.

9. Dot the reserved meatballs and sauce all over the top of the lasagne and scatter with the reserved cheese.

10. Bake the lasagne for 20 to 25 minutes until the cheese is melted and the top of the lasagne is lightly browned. Serve with the parmesan cheese.