I joined my Dutch and Belgian foodblogger friends this month again in their Foodblog Swap. That is when we cook from each others foodblogs and turn the recipe into our own. It is a great way of getting to know more recipes and more bloggers. This month, I got to cook from the foodblog My Happy Kitchen. After a long and thorough search through her lovely blog for a kids friendly recipe, I found these beautiful cute mini lasagna cups. I was pretty convinced that should bring some happy faces to our table, mini food very often works for kids, doesn’t it? I hardly ever make lasagna, because it just takes so long.
The last time I made it, was years ago now. That lasagna was super delicious, if I may say so myself, but I did decide then it would be the last one in a long time. The kids were a few years younger still, so you can imagine the chaos that can be building up when mum is spending a few hours just cooking. The memory of the delicious taste of it, did stick to me as well though and I knew I was going to try again when the time was ready. So this foodblog swap with those lovely mini lasagna cups from My Happy Kitchen were just the trigger I needed.
Making this mini version of lasagna takes less time (and washing up!) because it doesn’t involve making a white sauce and because they only need 15 minutes in the oven. Nevertheless, do reserve some time, it will easily take you an hour.
For the tomato sauce, I used a recipe I found in The Guardian, titled ‘The Perfect Tomato Sauce’, isn’t that what we all need? It is really simple, very pure and delicious! You can find the whole article on their website if you like.
Making these mini lasagna cups requires some planning and time management if you want to do it fairly quick. The tomato sauce needs cooking for at least 40 minutes. You best start with getting that ready. While it is on the stove cooking away, you can prepare the spinach, boil the lasagna, grate the cheese, prepare the muffin cases and start filling them as well. You might just be ready with all that when the tomato sauce is ready. Then you just need to finish off the layers and put your mini lasagne cups in the oven for 15 minutes on 200 º Celsius . You can finish them completely and reheat them in the oven afterwards, 5 minutes on 180 º Celsius will do.
Ingredients (for 12 mini lasagne cups):
- 12 lasagna sheets
- 100 grams of spinach
- 100 grams of ricotta
- 100 gram grated mozzarella
- 100 gram grated parmesan
For the perfect tomato sauce:
- 1 can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 package of passata (500 ml)
- 1 shallot
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 3 stalks of basil
- 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp of honey
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
Perfect tomato sauce:
- Peal the shallot and cut into pieces. Crush the garlic cloves with the back of a big knife and peel them.
- Heat the olive oil in a cooking pot and add the shallot and the garlic. Stir well until the shallot becomes soft and translucent.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and the passata.
- Give the basilicum a wash and pick the leaves from the stalks. Put the leaves on the side for now and add the stalks to the tomatoes.
- Add the vinegar and the honey as well.
- Leave the sauce to simmer for at least 40 minutes.
- Wash the spinach and cook it briefly until wilted. You can simply do this in a pot on the stove with a little bit of water at the bottom. You can also use the microwave or steam the spinach. When cooked bring it into a colander so the water can run out of it.
Building up the cups:
- Cook the lasagna sheets during 3 minutes in lightly salted water. When cooked take them out of the water with a slotted spoon. Put the cooked lasagna sheets on a clean kitchen towel next to each other, this is to prevent them from sticking to one another. If they do stick to each other put them back into the water and pull them apart careful in the water. You want the pasta to be soft enough to be able to shape it without breaking, but firm enough if so that is doesn’t fall apart. 3 minutes was perfect for me and I used a standard lasagna.
- If you are using a silicone muffin tray, you only need to spray some oil on it. If you are using a metal tray, you are best to use some sort of paper muffin cases. I have tried several options as you can see in the picture below and they all worked. The prettiest I found was the one with the folded pieces of baking paper as sometimes used for big muffins. They are very easy to make and they look fabulous. You just need to cut your baking paper in squares. The side length of the square should be about double of the diameter of the top of your muffin case holes. Put the piece of paper on the top the holes and use a glass, a jar or a little bottle that just fits in that shape to press the paper to the sides and to fold the paper. I was surprised to find several clips that explain this simple process on Youtube, have a look here for example.
- Now cut the lasagna sheets in two. I preferred to cut them at about 2/3 or even 3/4. Use the biggest part to shape your cup.
- On the bottom of the cup put a good teaspoon of ricotta and some spinach on top of that.
- When your tomato sauce is ready, add a big tablespoon of sauce on top of the spinach, with the parmesan to follow the sauce.
- On top of the parmesan, you can put an extra piece of lasagne sheet. That will make your lasagne cup a bit more firm, but personally I prefer to have more sauce instead.
- So on top of the parmesan or the extra piece of pasta, add more sauce and finish it all off with some grated mozzarella.
- Now they are ready to go into the oven, 15 minutes on 200 º Celsius will do the job.
This is how they look like when they are ready, very crispy on the top and soft as normal lasagna at the bottom. My kids absolutely loved the crispness of that top bit!