My friend Abigail was down to visit at the weekend and she and I, and Alberto, were all off out on Saturday evening to see the excellent Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus Christmas Show and so I wanted something tasty and filling that I could cook earlier in the day and then just heat up in the evening before we went out. This excellent Gino D’Acampo recipe was the obvious choice – it’s tasty, filling and full of lovely flavours. Oh, and oodles of lovely, melty mozzarella!
I made it all in the morning and then just popped it on the oven for half an hour just before we needed to go out in the evening. I made it in a large, ceramic lasagne dish and so it divided easily into four generous portions – one for each of us and one left over for Alberto to take to work for lunch on Sunday!
10 tablespoons olive oil
1 large white onion, finely chopped
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
10 fresh basil leaves
l00g minced lamb
l00g minced beef
l00g Neapolitan salami, finely chopped
l00g freshly made breadcrumbs
4 medium eggs
4 tablespoons plain flour, sprinkled on a flat plate
300g penne rigate
2 mozzarella balls, drained and cut into 2cm chunks
150g freshly grated Grana Padano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
You need to prepare the tomato sauce first. Heat 5 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over a gentle heat and fry the onions for 5 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes and the fresh basil leaves and leave it to cook over a low heat for 40 minutes without a lid, stirring every 5 minutes.
Once the sauce is ready, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Meanwhile prepare the meatballs. Put the minced meats in a large bowl with the salami, breadcrumbs and 2 eggs.
Season with salt and pepper and mix well by squeezing all the ingredients together with your hands. (this is wonderfully therapeutic if you’ve had a bit of a stressy day!)
Once the mixture is well mixed roll into balls the size of marbles. (my quality control always goes – they start off marble-sized but get gradually bigger as I go on making them. When making this on Saturday I ended up with 42 meatballs, most of which were more-or-less the correct size!)
Lightly coat the balls in the flour.
Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and fry the meatballs, turning to seal on all sides. Once browned set aside.
Hardboil the remaining 2 eggs, drain immerse in cold water and then shell and roughly chop them.
Preheat the oven to 180°C
Cook the fresh pasta in a large saucepan according to the packaging instructions until al dente.
Drain, rinse and then return it to the same pan.
Pour over the tomato sauce, add in the meatballs and gently mix all the ingredients together.
Pour half of the pasta mix into your lasagne dish.
Scatter over half of the mozzarella half the Grana Padano cheese and the chopped hardboiled eggs.
Pour over the rest of the pasta mixture and scatter the top with the remaining mozzarella and Grana Padano cheese.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.
Remove the dish from the oven and leave to rest for a couple of minutes before serving.