Speedy beef lasagna

Who doesn’t love lasagna? My mother in law used to make a big dish of it for extended family dinners.

Although it was time-consuming she could make it well ahead, pop it into the oven when we arrived, and then sit back and enjoy our company.

In this recipe from Family Favourites (which follows) the white sauce doesn’t have to be cooked which is a real time saver.

Many hands make light work and all of the recipes in Family Favourites have been created for families to cook together. They take only between15 to 20 minutes to prepare.

Older children could easily learn to cook some of these dinners by themselves which would take a load off busy parents. They might well enjoy it, especially if the compliments flow when they are brought to the table.

With Meatless Mondays now becoming more common, it is good to find recipes for soft veggie tacos, veggie pizzas with curly salad and spinach ‘n cheese filos. And from the sea, there is a coconut fish curry and fish burgers with kumara and carrot chips.

The Asian and Mexican dinners reflect the fact that kiwi families are global eaters. From Thailand comes coconut rice, from Mexico chili con carne and from Greece lamb rissoles with a summer salad.

However, there are still plenty of old-time favourites such as good old meatloaf, hamburgers, and pizzas.

For occasional treats just a few desserts appear at the end of this book including two familiar favourites, sticky date pudding and feijoa crumble.

As a Grandparent, although I have stacks of recipe books, it’s not that easy to find new recipes which our grandchildren will enjoy. But I found plenty of inspiration in Family Favourites .

And if, when your family comes over, they have all had a busy day and they just need to chill out it’s not a big chore for the grandparents to make dinner, rather than ask them to help. But if you promise them that those who cook don’t have to do the dishes that might be an incentive for them to join in the food preparation!

Beef Lasagna

A family favorite, this classic lasagna recipe is a favourite with Bargain Box households across NZ — recommended!

Serves 6

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 50 minutes

Ready in 65 minutes

Meat sauce

  • 1 brown onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 600g beef mince
  • 2 tbsp. dried Italian herbs (see below)
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1½ cups beef stock
  • 1¼ tbsp soy sauce
  • 1½ tbsp sugar

Dried Italian herbs

  • Mix together 2 tsp dried oregano, 2 tsp dried thyme, 2 tsp dried marjoram, 1 tsp dried basil and 1 tsp dried rosemary

White sauce

  • 1 egg
  • 200ml cream
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

To assemble

  • 6 dried lasagne sheets
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets and stem diced 1cm, to serve

Preheat oven to 190°C. Set a medium-sized lasagne dish (measuring about 20cm x 28cm) aside.

Heat a little oil in a large frying pan on a high heat. Cook onion, carrot and celery for 3–4 minutes, until softened. Add mince and cook for 5 minutes, breaking up with a wooden spoon as it cooks, until browned.

Add dried Italian herbs, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, stock, soy sauce and sugar. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until thickened but still saucy. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

While the meat sauce is cooking, prepare the white sauce. In a medium-sized bowl, lightly whisk egg. Add cream, milk and Parmesan cheese and whisk until well combined. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. The sauce should be runny.

Finely spread about 1 cup of meat sauce over base of lasagne dish. Lay lasagne sheets, in a single layer, to cover snugly, cutting to fit if needed. Spoon over half the remaining meat sauce followed by half the white sauce. Repeat for one more layer (lasagne sheets, meat sauce, white sauce), finishing with white sauce. Sprinkle over Parmesan cheese.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until topping is golden. Leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

When lasagne has about 10 minutes cooking time remaining, bring a medium-sized pot of water to the boil. When lasagne is resting, add broccoli to pot of boiling water and cook for 3–4 minutes, until bright green and tender.

To serve, cut beef lasagne into large squares and place onto plates. Serve broccoli on the side.

Cook’s hint

You can test if the lasagne sheets are cooked by pushing the pointy end of a knife down through the pasta — the knife should go through easily.

Energy 2442KJ (584kcal)

Carbs 26.6g

Protein 29.8g

Fat 37.1g


Recipe extracted from Family Favourites by Bargain Box with Nadia Lim, published by Random House NZ, RRP: $35.00. Photography by Tam West.



Reviews by Lyn Potter

Parent and grandparent, Avid traveller, writer & passionate home cook

Read more by Lyn here.