I have recently seen on Mumsnet that Napolina were looking for testers to try their new sauce range. I applied, thinking "Fat chance" as I presumed they would be bombarded by volunteers willing to enroll as testers. Imagine my surprise when the other day I received an email, saying that I was chosen as one of the testers. The hamper of Napolina sauces was promptly delivered the next day.
Among the selection of products there were two Napolina sauces for lasagne.
I don't often buy sauces which are specifically designed for lasagne, as when I cook the meat ragu, I use tinned tomatoes and add whichever dried or fresh herbs I have at home.
I'm rather fond of Napolina as a brand, and often buy their excellent pasta shapes. Their pasta range is extensive. Just today I saw a new addition to the range - regional pasta, and couldn't resist buying a packet of Gnocchi Sardi. But that will be a weekend project. Yesterday I cooked a big dish of beef lasagne, using two Napolina lasagne sauces - red and white.
1 red onion, finely chopped
3tbsp + olive oil
900g ground beef
2 cloves of garlic
2 celery stalks
1 beef stock cube (e.g. Knorr) dissolved in 125ml hot water
1 jar of Napolina red lasagne sauce
1 jar of Napolina white lasagne sauce
9 sheets of dried lasagne
70g grated Grana Padano cheese
First prepare the ragu: heat the oil in a deep frying pan. Add a finely sliced onion and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the ground beef and sliced celery. Cook the beef for about 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic, finely chopped and half a mug of beef broth made from the beef stock cube and hot water.
I used a Knorr beef stock, but any good stock cube would do. Pour the contents of the red lasagne sauce in to the ragu. Cook on low, simmering, for 45+ minutes. The Knorr stock cube is salty enough, so I didn't add any more salt while cooking the ragu. With all the flavours going on, you don't really need extra salt.
If using dried lasagne sheets, boil a medium sized pan of water and immerse the sheets two at a time for a couple of minutes, just to soften the pasta. If using fresh lasagne sheets, skip this step.
Put three lasagne sheets at the bottom of a deep lasagne baking dish which has been oiled.
Pour half of the ragu over them. Then pour 1/3 of the white lasagne sauce.
Place the next three sheets over, then the second half of ragu and another third of the white sauce. Then top up with the remaining three sheets and more white sauce.
Put the baking dish in the oven preheated to 180C. Cook for about 40-45 minutes. Add the grated cheese in the last 5-7 minutes of cooking. Once the cheese has melted and turned golden brown, the lasagne is ready.
Serve hot with a chunk of bread and some salad (or pickles, I had mine with two pickled cucumbers from the Polish deli, I know it's not an Italian combination, but oh so tasty).
Lasagne freezes well, sliced in portions. This amount will feed 4 very-very hungry people, or 6 if you serve some sides to go with lasagne.
Of course, if you have time and inclination, prepare your own tomato sauce and white sauce from scracth. If you are a busy parent like me, and/or cannot spend the whole evening cooking, then ready-made sauces are a Godsend.
Napolina lasagne sauces are made in the best classic traditions, and make you help a delicious authentic Italian meal.
Napolina smooth red lasagne pasta sauce has no added sugar. Its ingredients include tomato puree (52%), crushed tomatoes (40%), garlic puree, basil, salt, oregano, concentrated lemon juice, ground black pepper and sweetener.
Napolina smooth white lasagne sauce includes double cream, mature Cheddar cheese, rapeseed oil, cornflour, Regato cheese, starch, mustard powder, white pepper, nutmeg.
Both sauces are free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.
Disclosure: As mentioned above, I received a selection of Napolina products as a tester, All opinions are mine.