Tuscan Sausage and Fennel Lasagne

Makes 8 Servings
Lasagne is a dish that is eaten throughout Italy but the fennel in this version gives it a distinctive Tuscan flavor.
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Ingredients

  • 1 pound package (500 g) of dried lasagne sheets
  • 1 ball (340 g) mozzarella, grated 
  • ¼ cup (40 g) finely grated Parmesan
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

MEAT SAUCE

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ pounds (800g) Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ⅓ cup (125ml) red wine
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) tomato puree
  • 2 - 28 ounces (796ml) Italian packed plum tomatoes

BECHAMEL SAUCE

  • 1 quart (1L) milk
  • 1 small onion, halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • ⅓ cup (75g) butter
  • ⅓ cup (75g) flour

Method

MEAT SAUCE

In a fry pan, heat the olive oil and onion over medium heat and saute for 4-5 minutes until the onion is soft.  Add in the garlic and saute for another minute.  Stir in the fennel seeds and bay leaves.  Remove the sausage from its casings and add to the pan, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.  Fry 7-8 minutes until the meat is crumbled and thoroughly mixed with onion.  Pour in the wine and let it reduce for 2 minutes.  Add the tomato puree and canned tomatoes, crushing them with the wooden spoon. Season with salt & pepper. Stir thoroughly and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

BECHAMEL SAUCE

Add the milk, onion, bay leaves and a pinch of nutmeg to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  In a small pan melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a roux.  Remove the onion and bay leaves from the milk and stir in the roux, whisking until the sauce thickens.  Season with salt and pepper.  

ASSEMBLE THE LASAGNE

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C.

Cook the lasagne noodles as directed on package.   Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.

Ladle 2 spoonfuls of béchamel sauce into the bottom of a 9”X12” (20cmX30xm) oven proof dish.  Add a layer of the meat sauce and top with a layer of lasagne sheets. Add ⅓ of the mozzarella cheese on top along with ¼ of the parmesan cheese.  

Repeat the layers of the béchamel, meat sauce, lasagne sheets and cheese making three layers.   Finish with a layer of the béchamel sauce and top with the rest of the Parmesan cheese.  Follow the same directions, if using individual serving dishes.  Bake for 40 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.

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