Everyone likes lasagne and it holds up well if you're going to serve it to them at 5 o'clock then reheat later for you. Three shortcuts make life easier: fresh lasagne sheets cut down the cooking time and are easy to snip with kitchen scissors so you don't waste energy snapping up dried lasagne to fit your dish. Secondly, crème fraîche is an instant cheat's substitute for white sauce. Thirdly, using a batch of defrosted, batch-cooked sausage ragu means you can have this in the oven in five minutes flat. If you don't have any pre-prepped sauce, make the butternut squash one below in 20 minutes.
1 ball buffalo mozzarella
a quantity of homemade frozen sausage ragu (or use butternut sauce, see below)
1 large tub crème fraîche
1 pack of fresh lasagne sheets
a little Parmesan
Takes 40 minutes
1. Get the sausage ragu out of the freezer on the morning you're cooking lasagne for supper. Defrost in the fridge during the day.
2. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas mark 4. Get the kids to grate the cheddar (a box grater with a bowl makes this easiest). Show them how to drain the mozzarella then get them to rip it up into little pieces and pop it in a bowl.
3. Arm them with a wooden spoon and get them to layer up a little sauce all over the bottom of your dish. Add a layer of crème fraîche then pop a lasagne sheet on top (cut to size with kitchen scissors if needed). Dot a few blobs of mozzarella over the pasta and a small amount of cheddar. Repeat until you have made three layers of pasta.
4. On the top layer, spread the final lot of crème fraîche and top with the remaining mozzarella and cheddar. Grate over a small amount of Parmesan and a little black pepper. Bake for 35 minutes until golden and crisp on top then serve with our garden salad and garlic bread, if you like.
Butternut squash sauce
1 red onion
1 tsp dried oregano
1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp tomato purée
1 tbsp crème fraîche
Takes 20 minutes
1. Heat a drizzle of oil in a pan. Show the kids how to peel and dice the red onion then add to the pan with the oregano and cubes of butternut squash. Crush in the garlic (do this through a crusher and they won't have to peel the clove which can be fiddly for little fingers).
2. After about 5 minutes, pour in the tomatoes, water and tomato purée, bring to a simmer and pop the lid on the pan. Simmer for 15 minutes then take off the heat and pulse once or twice in a food processor with the crème fraîche. Begin layering up your lasagne as above. (Note: this purée also makes good baby food when teamed with orzo or other small pasta shape, just freeze it in the same way as our other traffic-light veggie sauces or feed to kids of any age mixed into pasta or rice).