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Macaroni lasagne

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1 tbsp olive oil
2 rashers smoked back bacon, roughly chopped
500g chicken mince
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely diced
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp tomato purée
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
200ml chicken stock
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Small handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
200g fresh baby spinach
400g dried macaroni pasta
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp butter
Pinch of nutmeg
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried chives
500ml semi-skimmed milk
50g cheddar cheese (30% less fat), grated
1 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated

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Macaroni lasagne

Lasagne and macaroni cheese are two of the best comfort foods – so I've combined the two to create this ultimate pasta dish. A rich ragu made from lean chicken mince and bacon is layered with macaroni and iron-rich spinach, and topped with an oozy cheese sauce. Just add an extra 10 minutes to the oven cooking time if making a day ahead

    • 60+ Mins
    • Serves 6
    • Medium




    1. For the ragu, heat one teaspoon of olive oil over a medium-high heat in a large frying pan and add the bacon. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the fat has rendered out and the edges are starting to crisp. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon and set aside.

    2. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and add the chicken mince. Break it up with a spoon and brown (for about 5 minutes) until there are no pink bits left. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon and set aside.

    3. In the residual oil (add more if necessary), toss in the onion and carrot and sauté gently for 10-15 minutes or until softened and starting to colour.

    4. Stir in the garlic, red pepper, fennel seeds, smoked paprika and tomato purée and cook for 1 minute more.

    5. Return the chicken mince and bacon to the pan and pour in the chopped tomatoes. Use the chicken stock to wash out the cans and add the liquid to the sauce. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and stir in the sugar, bay leaf and oregano.

    6. Cook gently over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until the ragu has thickened. Season to taste, discard the bay leaf and stir through the fresh basil. Remove from the heat and set aside.

    7. Next, add the spinach to a steamer and cook for 3-4 minutes or until wilted. Drain and once cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Roughly chop and set aside.

    8. For the white sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the plain flour and cook out for 1 minute to remove the raw taste. Stir in the nutmeg, bay leaf, chives and some seasoning, then gradually whisk in the milk and cook gently for 5-10 minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat, stir in the cheddar cheese and leave to thicken while you cook the macaroni.

    9. Heat a pan of salted water and bring to the boil. Add the macaroni and simmer for 5 minutes or until the macaroni is still slightly firm to the bite.

    10. To layer the lasagne, place one half of the ragu into the base of a large ovenproof dish (alternatively use two round foil dishes with a diameter of 215mm).

    11. Arrange half the macaroni on top, followed by all the spinach. Top with the remaining ragu, followed by the rest of the macaroni. Completely cover with the cheese sauce and scatter over the parmesan cheese.

    12. Place in a preheated oven at 190C for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown on top and bubbling around the edges. Leave to cool for 2 minutes, then serve with steamed greens.

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