What’s for tea? Lasagna. From scratch. On a week night. I must really love you (I do). Perhaps some peace needs to be made, or love, or perhaps it’s exam season. Or maybe the children need feeding up after too much junk food. Or maybe you’re actually mad. Lasagna? On a week night? Whatever. Let’s do it!
Take: an onion, garlic, celery. Chop. Fry up in a big cauldron pan, and add the leftover roast vegetables from last night (no one will notice). Take out a courgette from the fridge, but put it back again, because they will notice that. Children are not stupid.
Add some lovely meat, the sort you could eat raw from the wrappings, it looks so good, ideally from the butchers, and fry that in too. Pour in a whole bottle of tomato passata, some frozen spinach, water. Add tomato puree – that stuff you bought in an emergency from the expensive farm shop when it was remembered that school cookery class was first thing Monday, and you were still deep in the countryside late Sunday. Throw in basil. Sprinkle in Marigold vegetable bouillon powder (all my meals taste of this), pepper, some salt.
While that’s bubbling away, make a white sauce. Forget the fancy roux nonsense your Mum taught you while on the phone from work at the Yorkshire Building Society in 1991. Go with Delia – put milk, flour, and butter in a pan, everything cold, and whisk like crazy over a low heat (but turn it up, or you’ll be there ages), until you magically have the perfect consistency. Add more milk because you don’t think you have enough sauce, and instantly regret it, worrying that now it’s too thin. Oh well. Add cheese (cubed, because then you can eat a few cubes). Tiny bit of nutmeg.
Assemble: choose the wrong dish, the one with rounded edges, because the other one is somewhere else (where?!). Faff about for decades snapping pasta sheets to get them the right shape for the dish. Layer meat, pasta, cheese sauce. Realise you need two dishes because as usual you have made enough for 20. There will never be enough sauce.
Sprinkle on cheese, regretting the portion you ate, as now there isn’t quite enough, but get the dishes in the oven anyway. Put the bottom one on a baking tray because it is rather overfull and will ooze and bubble and you’ll be scraping the oven floor later.
Wash up. Wipe down worktop. Plates, cutlery. Make a cup of tea to recover from the whole experience. Remember about vegetables, and assume Italians always have frozen peas with lasagna (they do! I’m sure of it). Microwave.
Ding ding! It’s ready! Call children. Several times. Get agitated. Eventually scream up the stairs like a madwoman: IT’S LASAGNA!!! IT’S LIKE I AM GIVING YOU THE WHOLE OF MY HEART. COME DOWN IMMEDIATELY!!
Six and a half long minutes later, serve up.
Eat; enjoy your own meal if possible amid the hurly burly and the clamouring for seconds, thirds, fourths.
Wash up again.