8 Chefs Share Their Homemade Lasagne Tips

8 Chefs Share Their Homemade Lasagne Tips

At this time of year, there’s almost no dish easier to make for dinner than a crowd-pleasing lasagne. From twists on the classic Italian recipe to veggie-packed alternatives, some of the UK’s top chefs have given us their ultimate tips for making lasagne at home…

Jack Clements, Caffè Rojano

“To take your lasagne from good to excellent, make a great béchamel sauce. Try using Davidstow five-year-old cheddar cheese as it’s got such a distinctive, punchy flavour profile, although any cheddar will do. It’s also worth flavouring your cheese sauce with thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and mustard. Finally, add lemon juice and sherry vinegar once the sauce has cooked, as this brings a lovely acidity to the sauce that you wouldn’t have otherwise.”

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David Bailey, Private Chef to Natalie Portman & Elton John 

“Not only is vincigrassi - a lasagne of porcini mushrooms, prosciutto and white truffle - the most sophisticated version of this dish, it’s also a doddle to make. Cook the mushrooms in olive oil, then when they’ve taken on that almost chestnut-like colour from sautéing over a relatively high heat, they are ready to be added to the white sauce. Add prosciutto, cream, parsley, salt and pepper, bring the sauce to a boil and use as you would a ragu. Once assembled, bake for around 20 minutes, or until the top of the vincigrassi is that irresistible shade of golden brown. While you’re waiting for it to cool, knock up a simple green leaf salad with lemon vinaigrette. Serve with a drizzle of good-quality truffle oil.”

Harvey Ayliffe, Bluebird

“A good lasagne is composed of a few simple things, but done really well. Use a really good-quality British beef mince – such as rib cap and chuck – which adds a richer and meatier flavour to the dish. Seal off the mince in small batches. It’s important to drain off the fat at this stage – then recycle it by using it to cook off the onions. Flavour the mince with a robust Italian red wine like a montepulciano and add herbs like thyme and oregano, good-quality tomatoes and garlic, plus a high-quality beef stock cube and plenty of cracked black pepper. Finish off the cheese sauce with lots of parmesan and a good strong English cheddar, And always add egg yolk, for a nice glaze.”

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Myles Hopper & Giles Humphries, The Mindful Chef

“To create a vibrant and gluten-free twist on the classic lasagne, swap pasta sheets for layers of roasted butternut squash or courgette, topped with lentils, sautéed mushrooms and sundried tomato paste. To serve the lasagne, place a slice of squash or courgette on each plate and top with a spoonful of the lentil, mushroom and spinach mix. Repeat and scatter over the toasted pine nuts. Serve alongside rocket and roasted squash cubes, then drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the salad.” 

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Matthew Whitfield, The Montagu Arms

“For an extra-special veggie lasagne, roast whatever vegetables you’d like to use – think peppers, courgettes, aubergines and tomatoes – along with a couple of bulbs of garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. Once cooked, remove the garlic bulbs and mash them into a paste. Add this to your veg and tomato sauce, and layer as normal with your béchamel. Add some chopped boiled egg in the middle layer for an extra protein hit.” 

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Wesley Smalley, Oriental Club

“Use good quality mince which hasn’t been ground – ask your butcher for a courser mince and use half pork, half beef to give the dish extra flavour. It’s worth spending a bit extra for a good-quality passata, and finally, try to get hold of fresh oregano instead of dried as it gives it that lovely floral freshness.” 

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Richard Bainbridge, Benedicts

“Heat some olive oil and get half a bulb of garlic and rub them around the casserole dish, which will really enhance the whole flavour of the dish and give it a lovely finish. When you sauté the mince, add a crushed beef oxo cube to give it depth of flavour, then once you have added your layer of mince to the dish, add a layer of cured meats such as salami, pancetta or parma ham. Don’t skimp on the cheese: use a good English mature cheddar such as Lincolnshire poacher. On top of the final layer, add a topping of either crispy onions or a crushed packet of cheese and onion or salt and vinegar crisps. And finally, don’t be afraid to let the lasagne cool down for around 20 minutes before serving to allow the dish to rest and the flavours to develop.”

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Marco Sanna, Margot

“Make the most time-consuming parts of the recipe a day in advance, such as the ragu. This allows the assembly of the lasagne to be stress free and the flavours of the ragu to develop with time. Blanch your lasagne sheets in boiling water with a pinch of salt and a splash of oil to avoid them sticking together. Cook the sheets for a couple of minutes, then move straight into a bowl filled with water and ice. This step helps to shorten the necessary cooking time for the assembled lasagne, thereby avoiding that ‘brick’ consistency. Build your lasagne in alternated layers: pasta sheet, ragu, béchamel and grated mozzarella. You should go no more than three to four layers to avoid a long cooking time. Bake for ten minutes covered with silver foil, then finish for five minutes without the foil to get the crispy corners.”

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