Gluten Free Beef and Mushroom Lasagne

Πέμπτη, 4 Ιουνίου 2015


Summer is here! It's hot. It's humid, and in a couple weeks the sea will be in just the right temperature for me to swim. It's the first time in 10 years that we'll be spending a whole summer in Athens and I am something sort of terrified!


Athens can be exhausting even on a normal day imagine if there is a heat wave and I am dreading that we are going to have a few of these in the coming months. The only consolation and it is a huge one to say the truth is that the sea is only minutes away. You could be swimming at a decent beach in less than 30 minutes drive from the centre.


I have it all planed out. The best way to enjoy this summer in Athens will be to spend as much time as I can by the sea. Our beach excursions are going to be all day events complete with umbrellas, beach chairs and picnic baskets filled with homemade sandwiches and cakes.. Only one thing is missing .... the "where". And it is kind of important. As I write this post I only have 3 options on my list. But I am sure there are many more beautiful beaches all around Athens. I really want to visit and explore as many as possible.


In the Greek version of my post I asked my dear readers to give me tips on which beaches are worth visiting around Athens. I know that I am stretching it a bit asking my international readers to pitch in but you never know. Athens is a very popular holiday destination and it's been on the news lately (all for the wrong reasons but anyway) so maybe there is someone among you who's visited Athens and been to a beach nearby, enjoyed its crystal clear, cooling waters or heard about it from a friend and wants to share it with me.

If not, don't worry! You still get to take the recipe for my Gluten Free Beef and Mushroom Lasagne.


I know what you are thinking right now. She must be crazy talking about going swimming (as in wearing a bikini and showing it off in front of people) and making lasagne for dinner at the same post. Or she is very confident about her figure. I can assure you I am neither. Carbs and bikinis don't match in any country but life is all about priorities and for me taking pleasure in a nice, tasty, home-cooked meal comes always on top. If you look carefully at the ingredients you will see that this dish is as light as it is delicious. It is the epitome of "a little goes a long way" philosophy in cooking especially when it comes to strongly flavoured, caloric ingredients such as goat's butter and mature cheddar cheese.      

I used extra lean beef mince and chose to flavour it with just 1 teaspoon of fresh goat's butter (you can substitute with normal butter if you cannot find it) and put carrots, apple and mushrooms to make a dense meat sauce that actually has less meat than the traditional lasagne recipes. The star of the dish though, is the cheddar cheese sauce. It has the right consistency -not too runny and not too thick - and that extra cheesy taste mature cheddar gives to everything it is added to.

Give it a try and let my know what you think!

Happy Summer


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Gluten Free Beef and Mushroom Lasagne
Serves 4 - 6
Ingredients 
  • 500 gr (17oz) extra lean beef mince
  • 1 teaspoon goat's butter 
  • 50 ml brandy 
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 300 gr (10 oz) carrots, grated
  • 1 cooking apple, cored, peeled and chopped
  • 200 gr (7oz) button mushrooms, cut in half, stems removed finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 150 ml beef stock or boiling water
  • 250 gr gluten free lasagne sheets
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper
For the Cheddar Cheese Sauce
  • 50 gr (1.7oz) butter
  • 50 gr (1.7 oz) corn flour
  • 600 ml skimmed milk
  • 70 gr (2.5 oz) mature cheddar cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F degrees.  
  2. Heat a non stick frying pan on high heat, add mushroom cups and dry fry, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes until all the water in the mushrooms evaporates and we are left with nicely browned mushrooms. Remove from heat and set aside.  
  3. Heat a medium/large saucepan on high heat. Melt 1 teaspoon of goat's butter in the saucepan and add the mince. Stir until the mince has browned evenly. 
  4. Pour the brandy and keep stirring for 1 more minute until all alcohol has evaporated.  
  5. Add the chopped onion, chopped mushroom stems, crushed garlic, shredded carrots, chopped apple and tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Add beef stock (or boiling water), bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until all liquids have evaporated. Just before the end add the dried fried mushrooms and stir to combine. 
  7. Make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and stir in the flour. Gradually pour in the milk and cook, stirring until the sauce becomes smooth and thick. Add 2/3 of the grated cheddar cheese, season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.  
  8. Assemble the lasagne. Spoon half the mince into an ovenproof rectangular dish. Top with half of the lasagne sheets. Spoon half the cheese sauce on top, then the remaining mince followed by the remaining lasagne. Finish with the remaining cheese sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 of the cheddar cheese. 
  9. Bake for 25 - 35 minutes until the top bubbles and turns a lovely golden brown.  
  10. Let the lasagne cool down a bit before serving.  
Cooking Tips
  • I dry fried the mushrooms (frying without adding any oily substance) because I wanted to remove all their moisture before adding them to the sauce. The process last for about 5 minutes depending on the size of the mushrooms and it can be a bit "noisy" as the water evaporated on the hot surface of the pan.