Mary Berry's Melanzane Pasta

As seen on the BBC2 series Mary Berry Everyday, this pasta bake is made with lasagne sheets, béchamel sauce, tomato sauce, and layers of silky sliced aubergine. If you're having guests over, this is the ideal dish to assemble a day in advance.

From the book

Mary Berry Everyday by
Mary Berry Everyday
120 simple yet delicious recipes for everyday cooking
All the recipes from the BBC TV series
Classic favourites the whole family will enjoy

Introduction

Layers of lasagne, aubergine (melanzane in Italian) and savoury béchamel and tomato and basil sauce, this must be one of my favourite dishes for preparing ahead. Delicious served on its own or with chunks of garlic bread.

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 large or 3 medium aubergines, sliced into 5mm (¼ in) rounds
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
5–7 sheets of dried lasagne
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the béchamel sauce:
50g (2oz) butter
50g (2oz) plain flour
600ml (1 pint) milk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
100g (4oz) Parmesan cheese, grated
For the tomato sauce:
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
500ml (18fl oz) tomato passata
1 bunch of basil, chopped
2 tsp caster sugar

Essential kit

You will need: a 2-litre (3½-pint) wide-based ovenproof dish

Instructions

Cook time: 1 hour - 1 hour and 10 minutes, plus standing. 

1. You will need a 2-litre (3½-pint) wide-based ovenproof dish (see tip). Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas 6, then grease the dish with oil and line two baking sheets with baking paper.

2. Arrange the aubergine slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Drizzle over the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20–25 minutes, turning over the slices halfway through the cooking time. Remove from the oven and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, lay the pasta sheets in a dish, cover with boiling water and leave to soften for 10 minutes.

4. To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat, sprinkle in the flour and whisk for 2–3 minutes over a high heat until smooth. Heat the milk in a separate pan, then gradually blend into the butter and flour roux. Bring to the boil and allow to bubble for about
5 minutes, whisking the sauce until smooth (see tip).

5. Add the mustard and two-thirds of the cheese, season with salt and pepper and stir until the cheese has melted. Keep warm over a very low heat while you prepare the rest of the dish.

6. Place all the ingredients for the tomato sauce in a large bowl, season well with salt and pepper and mix together. Drain the pasta and separate the sheets.

7. To assemble the dish, spread a third of the tomato sauce in the base of the dish, then a third of the béchamel sauce. Arrange a third of the aubergines on top in a single layer, followed by half the sheets of lasagne (see tip). Repeat the process, so that you have three layers of aubergine/sauces and two layers of pasta (aubergine will be the top layer), then sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan. 

8. Leave to stand for a minimum of 1 hour (or store overnight in the fridge) before cooking.

9. Bake in the oven for 40–45 minutes until bubbling and golden on top. Leave to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

PREPARE AHEAD: Can be assembled up to a day ahead, then stored in the fridge and cooked to serve. Leftovers keep well for up to 3 days.

MARY’S EVERYDAY TIPS: It is important to use the right-sized dish so that the layers are all the correct thickness and the dish cooks evenly.

The key to a good béchamel sauce is to keep stirring! If the hot milk starts to bubble too much when it is being added to the roux, then turn down the heat a little, to give yourself more time to stir it in and incorporate it.

During assembly, you may need to break the lasagne sheets into pieces to make them fit in an even layer. Try not to overlap the sheets or they will not cook evenly. When adding the sauce, make sure the edges of the pasta are well covered with sauce, and not curling up. If they stick up out of the sauce, they will burn during cooking.

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