Beef Lasagna, a recipe from Belgium

QUARANTINE DIARIES, COMFORT FOOD & ALL THE SMALL THINGS THAT KEEP US GOING

An interview from Ghent, Belgium with 3 of my most favourite people, Phoevos, Dina (my sis) & Pavlos. They made us beef lasagna!

Head straight to the recipe.

A few words about you and where did the quarantine find you?

Phoevos: I live in De Pinte, a little village just outside Ghent in Belgium.

Dina: Hello ,I live in De Pinte a village in the Flanders ,it is in Belgium.

Pavlos: The lockdown found me at home in De Pinte, a small village near Gent, Belgium.

Is this where you spend lockdown? What did it change for you?

Phoevos: Yes, I have been spending these boring hours of lock down in my little, but fun, house.

Dina: Yes, I work on the dinner table ,I also help my son with his schoolwork , also on the dinner table.

Pavlos: I still work from home, but I feel more rested because I don’t have to travel for work.

How do you cope? Do you like to cook?

Phoevos: I spend hours of doing math and literacy with my mum and dad. Then I practice my violin, read a book, and then have some fun time with my family when they finish chores and work. I also play football in the house.

At the begging I was not very interested in cooking; my mum would push me to help her. As a big Harry Potter fan, making food makes me feel I am preparing a potion. The past 2 weeks I have started enjoying cooking much more. I have made some yummy lasagna.

Dina: I love to cook new things and go for walks  to a pond nearby to watch some ducklings growing. During lockdown I also enjoy baking.

Comfort food – beef lasagna

Phoevos: I am a big pasta fan and the first thing I would do would be to make something Italian.

Dina: My comfort food is lasagna, I had never made lasagna before (I loved eating it though,) but with lockdown I had more time, so I made it with my son and husband. I love them because, I love pasta, sauces with Mediterranean herbs and cream

Pavlos: Lasagna. Making lasagna is teamwork, I cook them with my family and my task is to make the bechamel sauce, which is my specialty.

Beef lasagna

Ingredients

  • 250 gr lasagna sheets
  • For the beef sauce

  • 500gr mince beef
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions (1, if the onion is big)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 70g tomato paste
  • 250g wine, all wines work (red, rose, white)
  • 400 g chopped up tomatoes; we like to use them freshly chopped up and not use tin tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch parsley
  • 1/2 bunch basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste your sauce

For the bechamel sauce

  • 120 g butter
  • 80 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 litre milk
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 50g grated parmesan/pecorino- we prefer the latter

Directions

For the red sauce

  1. Lightly saute the coarsely chopped onions and garlics,the add rosemary, thyme, and sauté.
  2. Add the beef and sauté for 3-4 minutes until golden and caramelized.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste and mix.
  4. Add the wine and as soon as it evaporates, add salt, pepper, and the tomatoes, and mix.
  5. Cover the sauce and lower the heat to medium. Let it simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat, add the parsley and basil finely chopped, and mix. You can now set aside and get started on the bechamel sauce.

For the bechamel sauce

  1. Place a pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the butter and let it melt. Add the flour and mix with a hand whisk until it absorbs the whole butter.
  3. Add the milk in 7-8 batches by constantly stirring with the whisk.
  4. As soon as the bechamel sauce thickens, add the nutmeg, salt, pepper, and mix.
  5. As soon as you see bubbles, remove from the heat, add fold in the grated cheese, and mix.

To assemble the layers:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Spread the olive oil onto a 36×28 cm pan and then, add a layer of the lasagna so that the whole bottom is covered. It doesn’t matter if you use broken pieces of the lasagna sheets.
  3. Spread the 1/3 of the beef sauce, the ¼ of the bechamel sauce, the ¼ of the grated cheese, and cover with another layer of lasagna.
  4. Follow the same process 1/2 more times.
  5. Cover with parchment paper and foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden. Allow 30 minutes for them to cool before serving.

Where will you go eat once this madness is over?

Phoevos: To a little but extraordinary Vietnamese restaurant called “Anders”, which in Dutch means “Different”. I love their Vietnamese rolls that are made with transparent rice dough and a bunch of vegetables and flowers. You can dip it in the most delightful sweet plum sauce.

Dina: I would like to go to the local Frituur where I can have some frieten (Belgian style fries.)

Pavlos: Ghent downtown to have a waffle on the go!

Share a wish, just so we can finish on a happy note.

In choir: Spirits up! Stay home, stay safe!

from de Pinte with love,

Phoevos, Dina & Pavlos

PS: If you wish to be part of my quarantine cuisine diaries and share your experience on Eat Yourself Greek (EYG), please drop me a line here. Thanks, Eugenia

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