Big news everyone… I HAVE A MAN COMING TO DINNER! Yes mum, an actual man, with a pulse and a head and everything. Although, if he has a weeping abscess on his leg, lets hope he keeps that information to himself, unlike my last date.
Was it a mistake to mention I had a food blog? Probably. Presumably his exceptions will be sky high, so that’s good. AGGHHH! What the hell am I going to cook him and what if it goes horribly wrong?! I’ll forever be known as ‘the food blogger who can’t cook and can’t kiss’… Not that I’m a bad cook or a bad kisser, in fact I’m an excellent kisser so not sure why I said that.
Anyway, I need to cook something safe, something I know and something I can prepare in advance to stop me getting frazzled like Robin Williams in Mrs Doubtfire. I don’t want to burn my tits.
Lets bring out the big guns, my mum’s tomato and red pepper lasagne. Now then, this aint no a regular lasagne, there’s no béchamel or mince, just a simple sauce of cooked down tomatoes and peppers. This was a week night staple in the Heale household throughout my childhood, until my mum had to give up dairy (selfish woman). Luckily my dad heroically stepped up and managed to cobble it together occasionally for my brother and I, thank god. In fact, it was the only thing my dad could cook apart from a jacket potato.
Over the years I’ve managed to cook it entirely from memory for all kinds of people, all of which have loved it. The sauce is easy to make but quite time consuming, so I recommend you make it the day before. Wish me luck! :S
My Mum’s Red Pepper Lasagne
Serves 6 / Takes 1 hour 40 minutes / V ❄
You’ll need: A deep dish that’s roughly 6″- 8″ inches
9 Dried lasagne sheets
24 tomatoes, cut into eighths (you don’t need to use expensive tomatoes, supermarket basics tomatoes will do)
4 red peppers, de-seeded and finely chopped
2 Tbs dried oregano
2 Tbs dried basil
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
270g medium strength vegetarian cheddar cheese
TIP: If you want it a bit cheesier, then use a 400g packet like my dad used to do. It’s important you don’t use mature cheddar though because when it melts, it tends to split, so try and get your hands on medium or mild.)
(The pasta sauce is suitable for home freezing)
1.Preheat your oven to 200c (180c fan) and roughly chopping the tomatoes into eighths and put them in a large pot. Deseed and finely chop the 4 peppers and add them to the tomatoes. Stir in the oil, the herbs and season with salt and pepper.
2. Put on a medium to high heat and start cooking the sauce down, stirring frequently. This takes about an hour. Use this time to grate the cheese if you like. It’s ready when the sauce is nice and thick, too watery and your lasagne will fall apart (which wouldn’t really matter) would still taste lush.
3. Spray your deep dish with oil and start by laying pasta sheets at the bottom. I break mine up in an attempted to get them to fit sometimes. Add a couple of layers of sauce and very light sprinkling of cheese (or a generous sprinkling if using the 400g packet)
4. Continue to layer like this a couple more times, ending with a heavy cheese layer at the top. Season the top with salt and pepper and cover loosely with foil (be careful the foil isn’t touching the cheese as it will stick the foil and peel the whole top off your lasagne when you take it out the oven).
5. Pop in the oven for around 40 minutes. Then, take the foil off and cook for another 10 to allow the top to brown. So that’s it, I served it with a simple green salad with pomegranates. Enjoy!… (FYI: My date loved it, he said it was the best lasagne he’d ever had… I feel very smug right now.)
If you’ve had a go at making my lasagne or any of my other recipes I’d love to hear about it. @corrieheale firstname.lastname@example.org