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HOW TO COOK PASTA TO PERFECTION

1 Pasta should be cooked al dente – slightly resistant to the bite. In the Test Kitchen, we recommend cooking your pasta for 2-3 minutes less than the package instructions. Remember, it will continue to cook out of the pot.

2 Pasta should be added to rapidly boiling water so the heat can reach the center of the pasta as quickly as possible, which allows the pasta to cook evenly. Don’t add oil to the water.

3 Salt plays an important role and should be added to the water before the pasta, to allow it to penetrate the pasta during cooking. This way, it will absorb the right amount of salt and cook evenly. Add a heaped tablespoon of coarse cooking salt to a large saucepan of water.

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large (200g) onion, chopped finely
  • 1 large (180g) carrot, chopped finely
  • 1 trimmed stick (100g) celery, chopped finely
  • 2 rashers (160g) rindless bacon, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely 600g pork and veal mince (or 300g each minced veal and pork)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste ½ cup (125ml) dry red wine 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup (250ml) beef stock 250g dried lasagne sheets
  • 1 cup (100g) grated mozzarella cheese Fresh basil leaves, to serve

CHEESE SAUCE

  • 60g butter
  • â…“ cup (50g) plain flour
  • 1 liter (4 cups) milk
  • 1 cup (80g) grated parmesan cheese Pinch ground nutmeg

1 Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook onion, carrot, celery and bacon, stirring, until onion is soft. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Increase heat to high. Add mince and cook, stirring, until browned. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add wine and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until almost all the liquid is evaporated. Stir in undrained tomatoes and stock. Simmer over very low heat, uncovered, for 1 hour or until mixture is thick. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

2 Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce.

3 Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan. Spread a little of the bolognese sauce into a greased 3-litre (12-cup) ovenproof dish. Top with a layer of lasagne sheets, overlapping slightly. Spread with some bolognese sauce, then drizzle with some cheese sauce. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with lasagne sheets Top with mozzarella.

4 Bake for 40 minutes or until golden and pasta is tender. If the top is becoming too brown, cover loosely with foil or baking paper.

5 Serve with fresh basil leaves and salad leaves, if desired.

CHEESE SAUCE

Heat butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring, over medium heat until mixture bubbles and thickens. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in milk. Return to heat and cook, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in parmesan and nutmeg. Season to taste. Cool for 10 minutes.