lasagna & leftovers or approaching meal prep

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The lasagna in the photo above seems a little … yes: it’s leftovers after a night in the fridge – waiting to be reheated in the microwave. So far the photo …

 

For the record:
Storing leftovers of a lasagna in the fridge & reheating – if oven, if microwave – doesn’t do any harm to the flavors & the deliciousness!

 

During the week I started preparing a lasagna for the weekend. I hadn’t planned at first to create a post for my food blog, but afterwards I thought it might be quite interesting to record my approach.

When planning a post there is a standard sequence (at least for me!):

  • shopping
  • preparing the shooting
  • preparing the food, cooking and/or baking
  • enjoying the meal.

I’m sure you know that all I present in my blog is made for real breakfast, real lunch, real dinner or real coffee times … However, when working on a post I always try to document the process by making lots of photos how I start, what I do & what’s the outcome.

This time I just worked for me in my kitchen & didn’t any of the documentation work. (Except of an adhoc photo every now & then … for my Instagram!) This means that there are only very few photos this time in my post, but I’ll try to compensate by writing about the process.

Furthermore there is the issue of meal prep, a subject that seems to become more & more interesting since some years in the food blog universe. Well, if you are working full time your main occupation isn’t really cooking or baking. When coming home … there’s not too much time for cooking … so if you can rely on easy & fast dishes or any dishes prepared in advance it’s just fine.

My approach to meal prep is that I often prepare more basic food than I need at the time & store the rest in the fridge or the freezer. On the other hand I like to avoid anything like half an aubergine, a packet of pasta filled only w/ 50 g or so. (To be honest I hate it to throw food (resp. leftovers) away because I couldn’t use it in time – before it got off.) So I always try to work w/ all I bought at once & store ready-to-eat leftovers in the fridge for the rest of the week.

The next photo shows an example: baked vegetables … I like to do 2 baking trays of baked vegetables at a time (no problem in an oven w/ fan!). You may store the baked vegetables for up to a week (or even longer) in your fridge & use them as a side dish for meat, with some pasta, in a quiche or tart or frittata or … whatever.

 

 

Let me just outline my approach to the anticipated lasagna:

  • I started on Wednesday w/ preparing baked vegetables.
  • Next day I prepared the meat.

All went into my fridge sealed in containers.

  • On Saturday morning I grated the pecorino & chopped the mozzarella balls.
  • I mixed the tomato sauce (only a cold approach!).

Also these ingredients marched into the fridge for some hours.

  • On Saturday in the afternoon I layered the lasagna & put the casserole in the oven.
  • In the evening I started the oven – and about 30 min later we had a delicious lasagna.

So – now some details …

What about the baked vegetables? I had a mix of …

  • aubergines
  • courgettes
  • red peppers
  • beef tomatoes
  • mushrooms
  • shallots (red & yellow)
  • cloves of garlic.

All was cleaned, trimmed, peeled … cut into bite-size pieces & mixed w/ olive oil, some balsamic vinegar, honey & dried herbs of Provence. (Salt & pepper to taste!) I lined 2 baking trays w/ baking parchment, distributed the vegetables evenly & added 2 sprigs of rosemary.

 

For the record:
You may add some other vegetables like fennel or Hokkaido or whatever … or omit some vegetables you don’t like. The final amount is determined by your oven & your baking trays.

 

 

After about 30 min in the oven at 175° C w/ fan the baked vegetables are ready to be eaten or stored in the fridge for further use. Don’t forget to discard the sprigs of rosemary!

 

Concerning the meat, the meat layer for the lasagna, I started w/ about 800 g organic minced meat (60% beef & 40% pork). Well, organic minced meat is packaged in my trusted food store in units of 400 g. I was well aware that 800 g is far too much for the planned lasagna, but the once fried meat can be used also for other dishes.

 

For the record:
You may also work w/ beef only. When on my shopping spree unfortunately there wasn’t any pure organic minced beef.

 

I chopped shallots, carrots & celeriac as fine as possible & started frying in olive oil w/ some bay leaves & some dried herbs of Provence. After about 5-10 min I added the meat & started mincing the pieces of minced meat as fine  as possible. (Salt & pepper to taste!) Finally I added some tomato purée.

The meat is fine when all meat is well done. Be sure that there isn’t any half-baked meat left. Start working with the mess on a dish at once or store it in the fridge (e. g. for the planned lasagna) which is more likely. Don’t forget to discard the bay leaves!

 

When it’s finally the day for the lasagna there are some minor tasks to be done.

For the lasagne I decided to use some grated pecorino & mozzarella.

The mozzarella was simply diced.

I had a chunk of pecorino in my fridge & I grated it w/ growing enthusiasm. Once grated the pecorino may be stored in a container in your fridge – preferably in the fresh action – for 1-2 weeks.

 

 

In addition there’s the tomato sauce. I didn’t start cooking, but used Italian tomato pulp, Italian tomato purée, dried thyme & dried oregano … some cream: ready.

Concerning the béchamel sauce – I decided to us a ready-to-use sauce from my trusted food store, instead of cooking … I admit that I was a little lazy concerning this approach, but it worked.

 

Now we are ready for the layering of the lasagna.

I grabbed my casserole, the square one, where 2 lasagna sheets fit perfectly for a layer. How many layers? I planned 2 layers of meat & 2 layers of baked vegetables & finally on top a layer w/ both. So I’d need 12 lasagna sheets w/ rather thin layers in between.

 

For the record:
You may also opt for 1 layer of meat & 1 layer of beaked vegetables. Then you’ll only need 6 lasagna sheets while the layers get thicker.

 

 

Let’s just outline the layering:

  • béchamel sauce
  • lasagna sheets
  • meat w/ tomato sauce & grated pecorino
  • lasagna sheets
  • baked vegetables w/ tomato sauce, grated pecorino & mozzarella
  • lasagna sheets
  • meat w/ tomato sauce & grated pecorino
  • lasagna sheets
  • baked vegetables w/ tomato sauce, grated pecorino & mozzarella
  • lasagna sheets
  • meat & baked vegetables w/ tomato sauce, grated pecorino & mozzarella
  • lasagna sheets
  • rest of tomato sauce, some grated pecorino, lots of mozzarella bits.

Afterwards I stored the well-filled casserole in my oven & waited for dinner. … Finally I started the oven w/ 175° C w/ fan for about 30 min. Fine. This was the end (of cooking) … & the start of having dinner!

 

Enjoy!

 

lasagna & leftovers or approaching meal prep
Prep Time2 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Servings: 6
ingredients
for the vegetables:
  • 1 aubergine (not too small, not too big)
  • 2 courgettes (not too small, not too big)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 beef tomato
  • 150 g mushrooms
  • 2 longish yellow shallots
  • 4 red shallots
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
for the dressing of the vegetables:
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey or molasses
  • 1 tsp dried herbs of provence
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
for the meat:
  • 800 g minced meat (100% beef or beef & pork)
  • 2 red shallots
  • 1 carrot
  • 100 g celeriac
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried herbs of provence
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 can tomato purée (about 70 g)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
for the cheese:
  • 2 mozzarella balls (each à 125 g)
  • 100 g grated pecorino
for the tomato sauce:
  • 1 can Italian tomato pulp (400 ml)
  • 2 cans tomato purée (each à 70 g)
  • 50 ml cream
  • 1 tbsp honey or molasses
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
for the béchamel sauce:
  • 250 ml béchamel sauce (ready to use)
for the pasta:
  • 12 lasagna sheets (ready to use i. e. w/o pre-cooking)
equipment:
  • 1 casserole (square, about 20 x 20 cm)
how to...
for the vegetables:
  • Clean & trim (& peel - if necessary!) all the vegetables; cut them into bite-size pieces & put them in a bowl.
  • Mix all the ingredients of the dressing in your shaker & distribute all over the vegetables.
  • Line 2 baking trays w/ baking parchment, add 2 sprigs of rosemary on each & distribute the vegetables evenly over the trays.
  • Put in the oven & let them bake at 175° C w/ fan for about 30 min. No preheating required.
  • Discard the sprigs of rosemary.
  • Let the baked vegetables cool down, seal them in containers & store in your fridge for future use.
for the meat:
  • Clean, trim & peel the vegetables; chop them finely.
  • Start frying the vegetables in olive oil & add the bay leaves & the herbs.
  • After about 5 min add the minced meat; crush the minced meat & take care that all is well-done (about 15 min).
  • Discard the bay leaves.
  • Finally add the tomato purée & salt & pepper.
  • When the meat is done & all is fine mixed, let it cool down, seal it in containers & store in your fridge (best in the fresh section) for future use.
for the cheese:
  • Dice the mozzarella & store in your fridge until the lasagna is layered.
  • Grate the pecorino & store in your fridge until the lasagna is layered.
for the tomato sauce:
  • Mix all the ingredients w/ a whisk until smooth & store in the fridge until the lasagna is layered.
finalizing the lasagna:
  • Add a thin layer of béchamel sauce on the bottom of the casserole.
  • Add 2 lasagna sheets.
  • Add a thin layer of the meat, 3-4 tbsp of tomato sauce & about 1-2 tbsp of grated pecorino.
  • Add 2 lasagna sheets (crosswise) & press down.
  • Add a thin layer of baked vegetables, 3-4 tbsp of tomato sauce, about 1 tbsp of grated pecorino & 1-2 tbsp of mozzarella bits.
  • Add 2 lasagna sheets (crosswise) & press down.
  • Add a thin layer of béchamel sauce, a thin layer of meat, 3-4 tbsp of tomato sauce & about 1-2 tbsp of grated pecorino.
  • Add 2 lasagna sheets (crosswise) & press down.
  • Add a another thin layer of baked vegetables, 3-4 tbsp of tomato sauce, about 1 tbsp of grated pecorino & 1-2 tbsp of mozzarella bits.
  • Add 2 lasagna sheets (crosswise) & press down.
  • Add some meat & some baked vegetables, 3-4 tbsp of tomato sauce, about 1 tbsp of grated pecorino & 1-2 tbsp of mozzarella bits.
  • Add 2 lasagna sheets (crosswise) & press down.
  • Distribute the rest of the tomato sauce on top of the lasagna sheets, add the rest of the grated pecorino (a thin layer only!) & dot it with all the rest of the mozzarella bits. (It's fine if some of the sauces & the cheese fill up the edges.)
  • Bake in the oven at 175° C w/ fan for about 30 min. No preheating required.
Notes
All of the food I prepared was dedicated to the lasagna, however, not all of it ended up in the lasagna. I had some leftovers which I used for other meals during the following days.
Vegetables: I used about 50% of it for the lasagna.
Meat: I used about 75% of it for the lasagna.
Cheese: I started w/ a piece of pecorino of 175 g. For the lasagna I used about 100 g grated pecorino.
Béchamel sauce: I used about 50% of it for the lasagna.
The amount of vegetables I prepared filled just 2 baking trays. It would have been possible to add a little more vegetables; also you may substitute if you like.
Meat: I had 60% organic beef & 40% organic pork i. e. 2 packages I bought in my trued food store.
You may store leftovers of the lasagna in the fridge (for 1-2 days) & reheat in the microwave.

 

(information on equipment)

 

 

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