Serve up a comforting slice of pork and fennel lasagne
Serve up a comforting slice of pork and fennel lasagne

Serve up a comforting slice of pork and fennel lasagne

When we’re cold and feeling a little under the weather, our cravings tend to always swing towards Mediterranean food. Wait, who are we kidding? No matter the temperature or our health status, we always crave Mediterranean food! Fitzroy institution Alimentari has long celebrated the delicious cuisines of the region, and owners Linda and Paul Jones have decided to share some of their sumptuous deli favourites in their new cook book. Also titled Alimentari (which translates to good food and camaraderie), the book features recipes to take you from breakfast through to dessert, including chickpea coriander fritters, felafel and kibbeh wraps, and this recipe for pork and fennel lasagne.

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 kg minced pork
200 ml dry white wine
2 x 400 g tins diced tomatoes
500 g instant lasagne sheets
1/2 quantity bechamel sauce (below)
100 g freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 x 125 g balls fior di latte (fresh mozzarella), sliced
1 large handful basil leaves

Bechamel sauce (makes 1.25 L)
2 cloves
1 onion, peeled
4 cups milk
2 fresh bay leaves
200 g butter
1 1/3 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons salt
100 g smoked scamorza or fior di latte (fresh mozzarella), grated
100 g parmesan cheese, finely grated

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan or casserole dish with a well-fitting lid over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and fennel seeds and saute for about five minutes, until the onion has softened. Add the salt and pepper.

Add the pork mince. Fry for five to seven minutes, breaking up any clumps with a wooden spoon as you go, until the liquid has evaporated and the meat has browned. Stir in the wine and simmer for about three minutes, until the liquid has reduced by about three quarters. Add the tinned tomatoes and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

To assemble the lasagne, spread enough meat sauce to cover the bottom of the dish. Cover with a layer of pasta, then top with one third of the bechamel. Repeat the layers of meat, pasta and bechamel, ending with a bechamel layer at the top (you should get three layers). Top with the cheese and basil leaves. Bake for 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Bechamel sauce
Stud the cloves into the onion.

Place the milk, the studded onion and the bay leaves in a saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for two minutes.

Melt the butter in a non-stick saucepan over low heat. Stir in the flour and cook for three minutes or until the flour and butter are well combined and resembles wet sand.

Strain and discard the onion and bay leaves from the milk. Slowly add the milk to the flour and butter mixture, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from the heat and add the salt and cheeses. Stir until smooth.

This is an edited extract from Alimentari by Linda and Paul Jones. Published by Hardie Grant Books and available in stores nationally.

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