Sunday, 30 June 2013

Green fingers?....and Lovely Lasagne! .....

Last weekend Hannah and I, had ourselves a lovely weekend visitation from her brother Daniel and his lovely wifey Emily...(Daniel is lovely too!) A bit stumped with what to cook I had a rummage around in the freezer to see what I could use. Luckily we had some mince leftover from the chilli, and a few cans of tomatoes left in the cupboard, so I rustled up an Italian Classic - Lasagne! 

Over dinner we discussed many interesting and wonderful things (because we are interesting and wonderful people :p), and obviously the topic of the CAP budget came up, and I really wanted to have Daniel involved. Now Daniel is an excellent blogger (we all enjoyed the spicy bumpkins trip to India most recently!) and also green fingered (Not literally!...he's a keen gardener!). We thought it would be really useful to have a section on Daniel's blog connected to manna budget that could inform you fabulous people how to grow your own vegetables. 

The benefits of growing your own veg are many - it can save you alot of cash in the long run, its really fun and lets face it home grown produce is so much tastier! I for one will be setting up myself a little veggie patch, so why not give it a go yourself? If you don't have a garden or live in a flat, then you could always grow something on a balcony? Even getting a few living herbs on the window sill will last you longer than buying the packaged fresh herbs.  

Sooo check out 'Sprouting Nonsence' at 

The lasagne went down a storm, I really love this recipe, it takes me ages to prepare because I am notoriously slow in the kitchen (I'm thorough and a stickler for attention to detail!) but  really this meal should only take a couple of hours to cook up. I recommend making the tomato sauce in a large batch and then you can use half for the meal and freeze the rest for next time you make something similar which will save you time in the future.

Lets get started...

Manna Lasagne  

serves 6

The finished article!
Preparation 20 mins
Cooking time 30 mins for the sauce
Cooking time 1hr 30 mins for the rest


Tomato sauce

2 Onions
2 Cloves of garlic (crushed)
1 Carrot
2 tbsp of Tomato Puree
3 x Cans of chopped tomatoes
200 ml Red/White wine or cider (optional)
Basil (handful of leaves) or a sprinkle of dried Basil

White sauce

85g Butter
The 'white' stuff
85g Flour
500 ml Milk
Salt and pepper


Olive oil
500g Beef mince
60g Bacon
200ml hot Beef stock
1 tsp ground Nutmeg
300g Lasagne sheets
125g ball Mozzarella

Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce
1. First finely chop the onions, crush the garlic and roughly chop the carrot. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan and fry the onions, carrot and crushed garlic for 5 mins over a medium low heat until softened.

2. Turn up the heat a little, stir in 2 tbsp tomato puree and cook for 1 min. Pour in the wine/cider (if using), then cook for 5 mins until this has reduced by two-thirds. Add to this 3 cans of chopped tomatoes and the basil. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20 mins. Leave it to cool (should take a half hour) then whizz up in a food processor.

There should be a 1 litre of sauce. Keep 500ml for the recipe and freeze the rest.

1. Heat some oil in a frying pan, then cook the beef in two batches for about 10 mins until browned all over.

2. Finely chop 4 slices of bacon then stir into the meat mixture. Make the Stock.

3. Add the tomato sauce and stock to the meat. Add the nutmeg, then season with salt an pepper. Bring up to the boil, then simmer for 30 mins or until the sauce looks rich and thick. you have now created your Ragu!

4. Whilst the Ragu is simmering you can start making the white sauce.

5. Melt the butter in a saucepan, and stir in plain flour. Slowly whisk in the milk a bit at a time until it is all added and then season.The white sauce should be thick and have the consistency to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

6. Pre-heat oven to 180C. 

7. Assemble the lasagne, lightly oil an ovenproof serving dish (30 x 20cm). Cover the base of the dish with a third of the ragu sauce, then cover with lasagne sheets. Drizzle over about one quarter of the white sauce. Repeat until you have 3 layers of pasta. Cover with the remaining white sauce, making sure you completely cover all the pasta.

8. Slice the mozzarella and arrange on top.

9. Bake for 45 mins until the top is bubbling and lightly browned.

Serve on its own or with Salad and Enjoy!

Extras and Alternatives

If you really want to bulk up this recipe or make yourself a veggie lasagne, simply exchange the mince and add some courgettes, peppers, aubergines,mushrooms, pumpkin or butternut squash and spinach. You can also add some prosciutto/bacon if you got any to go on top of the lasagne to add a tasty little treat.


We already had the leftover mince beef but here are the prices as if we bought it for this meal.
  • LIDL did 1kg of Beef mince for £3.09. 500g is £1.54
  • Onions from LIDL were 63p for a bag of 8 that works out around 8p each.
  • Garlic was 25p per bulb and we used 2 cloves, that's about 5p. 
  • Lidl do a 1kg bag of carrots for 79p, 1 carrot works out at 8p
  • Cans of chopped tomato were 31p in LIDL 
  • Bacon was £1.09 for 12 slices that 9p a slice
  • Beef stock cubes were 15p for 10 in Sainsburys 
  • Tomato puree was 35p in LIDL
  • Lasagne Sheets were 47p from ASDA
  • From LIDL a 125g Mozzarella ball was 44p
  • Milk was £1 for 4 pints at LIDL
  • Butter £1 for 250g from LIDL
  • Flour was 45p from LIDL 
That works out as a real cost of £9.85 and the actual price of the meal is £3.87. (64p per serving)

I hope you enjoy this really Tasty Italian Classic!

'Arrivederci' for now!

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