“Carnival Lasagna” from “Jamie Cooks Italy”

When we saw the name of this dish– Carnival Lasagna– it seemed the perfect thing to make as we head into the final weeks/days/hours of Andrew being at home before he heads off to the great adventure that is university life. Who doesn’t love a carnival? And indeed, this dish seems perfect for a big family gathering or a party. More pertinently, a carnival might also be just what we need as we all get a bit wistful about his departure.

We set aside a Sunday afternoon to get this done. You could just tell by looking at the three pages of photographs and one full page of instructions this was going to be a PROJECT. We were fine with that, because after all, isn’t that what Sunday afternoons are for?

It was a team effort. You have to make pasta dough for the lattice on the top, which Tim made. You also have to make meatballs and tomato sauce to layer in, which I made. We both kept an eye on the kilo of spaghetti we had to cook to put inside. Assembly was also largely a team effort.

You can imagine the relief we felt when it was finally time to eat. We figured it would be good, and we also figured that everyone would love it, given the ingredients.

The verdict? “This is just basically just spaghetti and meatballs, in pie form,” Andrew said after one bite. That’s really not the reaction we were hoping for after hours of cooking. But he was right. Even so, it was delicious, and it was even better as leftovers for lunch the next day.

This truly would be the perfect meal for a huge gathering of people. You could make it ahead of time, and put it in the oven when the guests arrive. Then once it’s time to eat, all you have to do is bake it and slice it. The picture above doesn’t really do it justice, but trust me, it’s a dramatic dish.

But when I make it again, I’ll modify some of the more fiddly bits. The meatballs, which are fried and then poached in the tomato sauce, were really good, but it took an age to fish them out of the tomato sauce. So the next time, I’ll just roast the meatballs like I always do, and then toss them in a bit of tomato sauce before layering them in– that will be much easier. Although the pie would be fine without the lattice on the top, it does add something extra to the dish, so I guess I would do that again. The next time I’d also add more prosciutto and cheese to the dish, but that’s just down to personal preference.

All in all, it was an excellent way to kick off a month of Italian eating with Jamie Oliver.

“Carnival Lasagna” from “Jamie Cooks Italy”

“Lasagna” from “Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite”

Sorry. No pictures, as I deleted a bunch from my phone in a flurry before leaving for our trip to Paris. Trust me. It looked just like a lasagna.

Maureen: Lasagna Night!

All: Hooray!

Maureen: Though I have to say for the record that this lasagna is different than the ones I usually make.

Tim: How?

Maureen: It’s a meat-based lasagna, rather than a vegetable one like I usually make. What do you think?

Andrew (16): Yum. You know I love lasagna.

Nicholas (12): It’s good, but I think I like the other one better.

Andrew: Me too.

Maureen: Does anyone want to guess how long it took me to make the meat sauce?

Tim: No. That sounds like a loaded question to me, so I don’t want to answer.

Maureen: It is a loaded question. It took me four hours to make the meat sauce.

Andrew: Four hours!

Maureen: Indeed. Not four hours at the stove, mind you, but still four hours. As this is neither Thanksgiving nor Christmas, I don’t want to spend four hours making something. It would never live up to that sort of time commitment.

Tim: The sauce is good, but I can’t taste four hours worth of cooking in it.

Maureen: I think we’ll go back to our usual lasagna. This is fine, but not transformative, and given how long it took me to make it, it ought to be transformative.

“Lasagna” from “Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite”

“Veggie Lasagna” from “Deliciously Ella”

IMG_6524Given that I faced universal resistance from my family for a month of eating Ella’s way (no sugar, gluten or dairy, which frankly are all the fun food groups), I decided to make a single serving of the Veggie Lasagna.

This was a good decision. I didn’t help the cause by making a vegetable lasagna that full of cheese (ricotta and mozzarella) goodness and other roasted vegetables for the rest of the family, so they really weren’t tempted to try this version at all.

“This is delicious!” the boys kept saying about their own, cheese-laden lasagna. “It doesn’t matter,” I would reply. “It’s not going on the blog.”

So I soldiered on with what I was calling my Unfun Lasagna. To be fair, it wasn’t terrible. It just wasn’t full of the cheese goodness I’ve grown to know and love in my usual lasagna. Ella’s lasagna never stood a chance.

Curious about he Unfun Lasagna my husband Tim did take the second piece to give it a try. He said while it was good, he wouldn’t go out of his way to eat it or ask for it again.

I feel the same way. I could see how a vegan would like this, but as I’m not vegan I can continue with my cheese loving ways with our usual vegetable lasagna.

I fear this might be a long month.

“Veggie Lasagna” from “Deliciously Ella”

“Ricotta, Thyme and Sweet Potato Bake” from “A Modern Way to Eat”

IMG_5750Maureen: This is called a Sweet Potato Bake, but I’m going to call it like I see it: It’s a sweet potato lasagna.

Andrew (14): Yum. This is GOOD.

Nicholas (11): There’s only one problem with this. I don’t like sweet potatoes.

Maureen: What are you talking about? This is delicious!

Nicholas: Nope. Can’t do it.

Maureen: Honestly, it’s just like lasagna, just with sweet potatoes rather than pasta.

Andrew: It is DELICIOUS.

Maureen: See? Andrew likes it. They say in all the parenting books that you shouldn’t compare siblings, but I’m going to do it anyway: Look at your brother! He’s eating it and he loves it!

Tim: I’m with Nicholas. I am not a fan of sweet potatoes.

Maureen: What’s wrong with you people? You don’t know what you’re missing. This is fantastic.

Andrew: I agree.


“Ricotta, Thyme and Sweet Potato Bake” from “A Modern Way to Eat”