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overhead shot of scooping out sausage lasagne
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5 from 6 votes

Sausage and Fennel Lasagne

This Sausage and Fennel Lasagne is absolutely bursting with flavour. It's the easy and delicious twist on a classic lasagne that you never knew you needed!!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time2 hrs 45 mins
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8
Calories: 860kcal
Cost: £3 / $4

Equipment

  • 9" x 13" Baking Dish (or similar size)
  • Large Pot with Heavy Lid (for ragu)
  • Medium Pot & Whisk (for bechamel sauce)
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
  • Serve Spoon (to spread layers)
  • Box Grater

Ingredients

Sausage Ragu

  • 2lb / 1kg Ground Sausage Meat (see notes)
  • 4 cups / 1 litre Tomato Passata (Pureed Tomatoes in US)
  • 1/2 cup / 125ml Red Wine
  • 2 stalks of Celery, finely diced
  • 2 medium Carrots, grated
  • 1 large White Onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Whole Fennel Seeds, crushed (see notes)
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste in US)
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 3-4 small sprigs of Fresh Thyme, leaves only (can sub 1 tsp dried Thyme)
  • 1 tsp Sugar, or to taste
  • Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
  • Olive Oil, as needed

Bechamel Sauce

  • 4 cups / 1 litre Milk, at room temp
  • 5 tbsp Flour
  • 4 tbsp Butter
  • 1/2 small Nutmeg, grated
  • 1 cup / 80g Freshly Grated Parmesan
  • Salt & Black Pepper, to taste

Lasagne

  • 12oz / 350g Fresh Lasagne Sheets (see notes)
  • 2 cups / 200g Mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/2 cup / 40g Freshly Grated Parmesan, to top
  • Fresh Parsley, to serve

Instructions

Sausage Ragu

  • Add a drizzle of oil to a large pot over medium-high heat and add your sausage. Break it up with a wooden spoon until it begins to brown, then season with salt and pepper. Continue frying until nice and golden, then pour into your baking dish (discard fat as necessary).
  • Add more oil if you need and lower temp to medium. Add celery, carrot and onion and begin frying until they begin to soften and brown. Add garlic, continue frying for another 1-2mins then clear a hole in the centre of your pot.
  • Add fennel seeds and allow to toast for 1-2mins, then stir with everything in the pot. Clear another circle and add your tomato puree. Allow to fry for 1-2mins, the stir with everything in the pan.
  • Pour in red wine and deglaze with your wooden spoon. Leave to simmer for 5mins, then pour in passata. Add thyme, bay leaves and sugar, salt and black pepper to taste. Pop on a (heavy) lid, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour 30 mins (important to simmer for at LEAST an hour to marry together the flavours and tenderise the meat). Take off lid and simmer for another 10mins, or until nice and thick (see video for consistency & see notes). Meanwhile...

Bechamel Sauce

  • In a medium sized pot over medium heat, add butter and stir until melted. Stir through flour to form a paste, then gradually whisk in milk. Allow to simmer for 5-10mins until it thickens, then stir through parmesan, nutmeg and salt & pepper to taste. You want the sauce thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, but not so thick it won't pour.

Lasagne

  • Pre heat oven to 356F/180C.
  • In a 9x13" (or close to) baking dish, spread a few spoons of sausage ragu. This is just so the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom.
  • Your layers will then go as follows: Pasta sheets, Ragu, Bechamel Sauce, Mozzarella. The last layer will be pasta sheets, then Bechamel, then mozzarella and parmesan to top. That's 4 layers of pasta, 4 layers of Ragu (including very bottom layer), 4 layers of Bechamel and 4 layers of mozzarella.
  • Pop in the oven for 30-40mins or until the surface is deep golden (Some 'burnt' parts are fine, extra flavour). Let it sit for at least 15mins. This is important or it will be too liquidy. That and it'll burn the roof of your mouth off.
  • Sprinkle with fresh parsley then tuck in!

Video

Notes

a) Sausage Meat - You'll find sausage meat in most supermarkets/grocery stores. If you can't find it just remove the meat from sausages. Try and use good quality sausage and stay away from extravagant flavours, just a 'neutral' flavour will do fine!
b) Fennel - Definitely make sure you crush the seeds. Here's 3 easy ways to do so:
  • Pestle & Mortar
  • Zip Lock Bag - Just pop them in a bag a smash with a rolling pin.
  • Chopping Board & Oil - Place on a chopping board and drizzle with a little oil. You can then dice them with a sharp knife without them bouncing everywhere.
c) Heavy Top Lid - Needs to be heavy so the steam doesn't escape otherwise it'll reduce too quickly.
d) Consistency - It's important to reduce the Ragu AND the Bechamel sauce. For the Ragu, if there is a layer of water on top whilst it simmers, you need to reduce further. The bechamel sauce should easily coat the back of a wooden spoon. If both are too watery, the lasagne is going to come out the oven overly sloppy. 
e) Fresh Lasagne Sheets vs Dried - I normally go fresh (find in fresh pasta section in supermarket/grocery store). I prefer the texture and the lasagne tends to stay intact better (not so wavey). If you’ve only got dried lasagne sheets then just check the packet to see if you need to cook before hand. If you don’t need to cook them, then don’t reduce the ragu quite so much (the dried sheets will suck up more liquid than fresh).
f) Make Ahead - Perfect to make in advance! Just make sure the ragu and bechamel sauce cool before you assemble the lasagne, or the pasta will start to cook (meaning it will come out soft and mushy after it's baked). Cover and store in the fridge, then bake at the same temp (add on another 5-10mins or bring to room temp). Or freeze, then thaw in the fridge overnight and bake accordingly.
g) Leftovers - Cover and store in the fridge or freezer and reheat in the oven at the same temp until piping hot through the centre. 
h) Calories - based on sharing between 8, using 1 tbsp olive oil.

Nutrition

Calories: 860kcal | Carbohydrates: 45.87g | Protein: 38.84g | Fat: 56.52g | Saturated Fat: 23.76g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6.05g | Monounsaturated Fat: 22.701g | Trans Fat: 0.269g | Cholesterol: 174mg | Sodium: 1598mg | Potassium: 950mg | Fiber: 4.4g | Sugar: 11.38g | Vitamin A: 3844IU | Vitamin C: 20.4mg | Calcium: 539mg | Iron: 4.84mg