To make up for my temporary insanity in posting a vegan recipe last week, I’m making up for it this week in the most un-vegan recipe I could muster. A triple whammy of animal products- cheese, egg and bacon!
Don’t get me wrong I have no problem eating vegan food every now and then, and those vegan chickpea burgers were yum. But try and separate me from my beloved cheese, eggs and bacon for more than a few days? We’ll have issues.
I was home last weekend in West Cork and stocked up on some of my favourite Cork produce: Gubbeen smoked streaky bacon, and Toonsbridge buffalo Mozzarella. I combined these with some local organic eggs and was pleasantly surprised at how much cheese I could stomach first thing in the morning! You could always leave out the egg and it would be equally nice but please don’t skimp on the garlic butter. This is so delicious and indulgent, it would make the perfect weekend brunch for friends.
1 handful fresh mozzarella (about 1 large ball- I used Toonsbridge)
4 tbsp soft butter
2 crushed garlic cloves
First off you may as well make your garlic butter, just mix together your butter and crushed garlic, add as little or much as you like. My breakfast guest was a wuss so just had plain butter.
Grill you bacon pieces on a medium high heat for a few minutes on each size- you want them well cooked but not crispy. If they’re very oily after cooking dab them a little with some kitchen paper- don’t dry them out though.
Fry your eggs in a little oil while the bacon is cooking, do them to your taste runny or set.
Toast your bread and smear with some garlic butter. Tear up the mozzarella and lay out on the bread and pop under the grill for a few minutes until melted and gooey. Then top with your bacon and egg and serve!
Last weekend I went home to Cork for the Taste of West Cork Festival. Lots of amazing food was eaten, copious amounts of blackberry jam was made and my sister and her boyfriend made me dinner! I was really impressed with this dish and decided to recreate it last night for a friend who was coming over to dinner. I have to say this is one of my all-time favourite comforting meals! This cheesy spinach and bacon lasagne was so comforting yet so tasty. My sister used Gubbeen Smoked bacon which was amazing, but I used cooked ham, and this dish is great to use up leftover cooked ham from the weekend if you’re having a traditional Sunday lunch. If you’re a vegetarian, leave out the bacon & it’s equally mouth-watering.
This dish is seriously tasty and seriously cheesy! Buying great cheese makes a great difference. I am I serious Toonsbridge Dairy fan, as most of my blog readers know, and used their Irish buffalo mozzarella and buffalo ricotta. I suggest buying fresh lasagne sheets as it does decreases cooking time (30 to 40 minutes instead of an hour!) I made my own pasta sheets as since getting a pasta machine, I’m playing away with it a lot. It makes such a difference, but it doesn’t matter too much if you used dried it will still be a winner. It’s best served with a salad. My dish was a small one and serves 4 comfortably, so just increase the quantities roughly if you’re feeding more people. Leftover portions are great frozen for a quick meal the following week. Enjoy and let me know what you think! If you have any unusual lasagne fillings I’d love to hear them as I experiment with my pasta machine!
Ingredients (serves 6):
For the cheesy sauce:
500ml whole milk
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
For the lasagne:
Lasagne sheets (enough to cover your dish for four layers)
200g cooked ham (thickly sliced) or smoked streaky bacon lightly fried
400g baby spinach
200g ricotta cheese
Handful pine nuts
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg (more flavoursome than powdered nutmeg)
1 ball mozzarella
Extra grated parmesan for sprinkling on top
Fry pine nuts in a dry pan for a minute until they brown and set aside. They burn quickly so keep your eye on them!
Make the sauce first by adding all ingredients to saucepan except the Parmesan cheese over a medium flame. Whisk for about 3 to 5 minutes until its hot and thickened, then turn down heat, add Parmesan cheese and stir for a few minutes. Season with a little cracked black pepper. Remove from heat & cover with kitchen towel or foil to prevent skin forming.
Wash spinach and dry. Place in a pan with some butter and salt. Stir gently until spinach is lightly wilted. Remove when cooked and squeeze out moisture (you may need to pat off excess water with a kitchen towel.) Add ricotta cheese and a half cup of the sauce, stir together and season with salt, pepper & nutmeg.
Now it is time to assemble! Spread enough sauce to cover the base of your lasagne dish, then add a layer of pasta. Add a layer with half of your spinach mix. Then a layer of pasta sheets. Then a layer of sliced mozzarella and ham. Then a layer of spinach and pine nuts. Cover with pasta and pour the remaining sauce over the top.
Cook for 30 to 40 minutes until golden. If your lasagne starts to brown too quickly, cover with tinfoil and pop back in to the oven. When cooked garnish with a little grated Parmesan and any leftover toasted pine nuts.
Enjoy, preferably with a large glass of wine if it’s going!