Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Beef & Lentil Pasta Bake and making your meat go further

We're not big red meat eaters. Not for health, money or any other reason. It's just that way. We probably do prefer pork above all meats but also eat chicken, fish, lamb and veal as well as other pork products like bacon, proscuitto, sausages and ham. When I budget for the meat shopping, I usually allow $100 from our local bulk butcher and this will last us 6 to 8 weeks, if not longer.

This is because I have learnt to bulk out a lot of meat dishes with pulses (ie lentils, chick peas etc), grated vegies and bread crumbs. Six sausages to a packet when freezing does our family of four quite well. The kids will have a sausage each and I'll cook the other 4 up into a curry or sausage hot pot of some sort and slice the sausages to serve, which feels like we're having a lot. Meatballs and rissoles (hamburger patties) are usually mixed with grated or pureed vegies and dried breadcrumbs, or lentils like I have used in this recipe.

Tonight, for example, I had a very simple beef mince and vegie pasta bake which was made with about 200gm (or a handful of mince). It was an 8 serve lasagne dish so it really did go a long way because I added half a cup of red lentils to the meat and vegie sauce before mixing with the pasta. My husband, or the kids, didn't notice and it tastes really good (to me anyway, well it was eaten and my husband had seconds).

Beef & Lentil Pasta Bake

200gm (handful) beef mince
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup dried red lentils (rinsed) or 1 can lentils (drained and rinsed)
2 cups vegetables, chopped (I used grated carrot, cauliflower and green beans)
1 can diced tomatoes
2 small onions or 1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup chicken or beef stock
1 tbs dried basil
1 tbs dried oregano
salt & pepper
1 packet dried pasta shapes (I used small spirals)
1 quantity Bechamel sauce
parmesan cheese

Bechamel sauce:
2 tbs butter
2 tbs plain flour
3 cups milk
1 cup grated cheese

Boil pasta according to directions, drain and put aside.  Fry onions in olive oil until slightly softened. Add mince and garlic and cook until mince is browned. Add rinsed lentils, tinned tomatoes, stock, herbs and salt and pepper. Add chopped vegies and cook until lentils are soft (approx 15 mins). Combine pasta and meat sauce and put in a lasagne dish.

Bechamel sauce:
Melt butter. Add flour and stir until a roux forms (thick paste). Add milk and keep stirring until sauce forms and thickens. Add grated cheese. Top meat/pasta with bechamel sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake in a 180 deg C oven until golden.

Dishes like this are always better the next day and this will take care of my husband's lunches for a few days as it freezes really well too.



  1. This looks so delish! We don't eat a lot of red meat either so thank you for the tips on making it go further. I'd love to get your curry recipe!

  2. Yum!! This looks fantastic! I love anything with pasta and lentils and cheese. And I love meals that you just need to serve and it has all of your food groups for the night!

  3. Yum! Comfort food. I was a vegetarian for 10 years and used to make a lentil bolognese. You recipe is kind of in between.

    Hope you are having a great week!

  4. Wonderful idea - I love lentils but my husband's not so sold, this might do the trick! And you can always tell you're on a winner when the husbands want seconds. Thanks!

  5. Mmm. It's much healthier this way too.

  6. Sounds wonderful! I'll buy the ingredients when I do my groceries tomorrow and give it a whirl!

  7. Yum!! Will have to make sure the lentils go undetected until the eating is almost done - my husband has an irrational aversion!


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