ruins & lasagne

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Whenever the weather now in spring is fine – i. e. blue sky & lots of sunshine – my better half & I like to make a short trip to an interesting spot near our home in Carcassonne. Unfortunately the weather is very shifting – from a fine day to a day filled w/ storm & rain showers overnight.

There are lots of spot worthwhile to be visited around us especially lots of castles, churches, abbeys … most of them more ruins. They often go back more than 1000 years when the foundation stone was laid.

Ruins – are there any better spots for interesting photos than ruins? I always cannot stop myself from taking photos, more photos … so there is a short, very short selection in this post.

After a trip to some ruin we are always longing for some substantial food for dinner. I managed to create a lasagna which is easy & fast to serve … relying on some ready-to-use ingredients of my trusted food store in Carcassonne.

The recipe will come at the end of this post.

Now back to our ruins …

I wrote about our trip to Saissac when the castle, Le Château de Saissac, was closed. We went on a weekday just to learn that the castle is only open on weekends during pre-season.

So we returned somewhat later … walking the castle & taking lots of photos.

Le Château de Saissac was 1st mentioned in 960 & thrived during the next centuries. Alas, after the French Revolution it crumbled away …

The fortification is about 100 m long (inside the walls). So there are some subsequent courtyards & watchtowers. It’s situated on top of a hill giving any attackers a hard time.

Not so far away from Saissac you’ll find Saint-Papoul, a small town w/ less than 1000 inhabitants, but … There is an abbey founded in the 8th century, becoming the seat of a bishop in the 14th century … & so the church of the abbey became a cathedral.

All over the buildings resp. their remains you’ll get the feeling that it is quite old … while at the same time you are able to find lots of artfully designed details being evidence of the glory during the centuries after its foundation. Restoration work is going on …

One day we decided to approach the Pyrenees and made a trip to Foix. (Well: we didn’t get any better photos of the snow covered peaks than before … you only get a hint of them in the 2nd photo below!)

Foix has got an impressive castle, a fortification set above the town, which is quite well preserved. Be sure to wear solid footwear when climbing the path to the entrance of the monument.

Its characteristic are 3 watchtowers where the lords of Foix also had their living quarters – no furniture of course. One of the towers is round, while the others are square. The castle was said to be impregnable.

Le Château de Foix dates back to 987 when mentioned for the 1st time. At the base of the rock formation with the castle on top there is a lovely old town area with small cobbles ways inviting you to stroll leisurely … There is also an abbey from the same era.

All these monuments i. e. ruins had their highlight in the Middle Ages when there were the battles between the Catholic church & their crusaders and the troops of the Cathars, one of the earliest movements aiming for a simpler Christian life and worship.

Back to our lasagne …

The only ovenproof casserole I found in my tiny kitchen is about 20 x 12 cm – so I adjusted my lasagne adventure to this size. At the end I had a rather high lasagne enough for 2 people for 2 dinners.

(Just to clarify: I didn’t create home-made sheets of lasagne nor any home-made tomato mess from the scratch. As well I didn’t crunch any pesto or grate the cheese. In a nutshell: it fast-tracked the cooking a lot!)

For the layers I used twice a single sheet of lasagne, twice 1,5 sheets of lasagne & finale 2 sheets of lasagne on top which corresponded to the dimensions of my casserole. So I got 4 layers of filling.

What do we need:

  • 7 sheets of lasagne (ready-for-use in a casserole i. e. no pre-cooking required)
    (maybe you’ll need more depending on the size of your casserole …)
  • 1 can Italian tomato pulp (400 g)
  • 1 glass pesto from dried tomatoes (200 g)
  • 2-3 tbsp cream
  • 250 g pure beef minced meat
  • 150 g grated French Emmetaler
  • 1 tsp herbs of Provence (dried)
  • salt & pepper.

Start w/ preheating the oven to 180° C fan.

Fry the minced meat, add salt & pepper to taste. After some minutes when the meat starts getting brown add the pesto & mix. Let it simmer … until the meat is well done.

Mix the tomato pulp w/ the herbs of Provence & the cream.

Then start layering the lasagne:

  1. A thin layer of tomato mess on the bottom.
  2. Sheet(s) of lasagne
  3. Some tomato mess on top
  4. 1/4 of the minced meat
  5. 1/5 of the cheese
  6. Sheet(s) of lasagne
  7. … tomato mess …
  8. … minced meat …
  9. … grated cheese …
  10. finally: add the last layer of sheets of lasagne, the rest of the tomato mess & the rest of the grated cheese.

Put the casserole in the preheated oven for at least 20 min … maybe for 25 min.

Serve & enjoy!

(We had half of the lasagne … the other half was preserved in the fridge for one of the next dinners … heated in the microwave!)