Mini Lasagna Cups are cute little single servings of everyone’s favourite Italian dish. Cute, petite and tasty they make a fun additional to lunch boxes and are fantastic to cook ahead and freeze for quick and easy snacks and ready meals.
Who doesn’t love lasagna? Layers of rich, meaty bolognaise sauce nestled between sheets of melt in your mouth pasta. Perfect comfort food and great for feeding a crowd. But, we are a small family and a big tray of lasagna would feed us all week and then some. These individual Mini Lasagna Cups are the perfect solution for a small family. This recipe makes a batch of 18 mini lasagna cups. I used 6 (2 mini lasangas per person) for meal night and served with garlic bread and a fresh tossed salad. The remaining 12 went into the freezer for lunches or quick snacks. The beauty of the individual portions is that you can add the cups to your lunch bag straight from the freezer, or pop them in the microwave to thaw and heat in just a few minutes.
The other awesome thing about lasagna is that it is a perfect dish for smuggling extra vegies into fussy eaters. I finely mince mushrooms and grate zucchini and added to the sauce – my anti-mushroom family have no idea – shh don’t show my daughter this recipe! If your people happen to love mushrooms as much as you do then leave them in slices and enjoy their meaty texture in the sauce.
I also love to add a layer of spinach and ricotta to the middle of my lasagna. This was a trick I learned from a friendly Italian Nonna many years ago. If you have the joy of knowing an Italian Nonna you also know that feeding you is foremost on their agenda. I was dieting and my friend Maria added a layer of ham, spinach and ricotta to the middle of her lasagna to make it healthier for me, bless her! I have loved cutting into lasagna and seeing a creamy white, spinach speckled filling every since.
I made my “with love” version of bolognaise sauce for this recipe. That is, I took the time and effort to build my flavours up before slowing cooking the sauce, rather than the fast and friendly throw everything together version which is ready in half an hour. I didn’t make my own pasta but instead used the left over Wonton wrappers from my Thai Pork Salad Wonton Baskets for the lasagna sheets. The little square wonton wrappers (available in the dairy section of the supermarket) are the perfect portion size for the Mini Lasagna Cups.
Set aside an afternoon to allow the sauce to simmer away in your slow cooker or on the stove and enjoy the hearty aromas before assembling into the individual lasagna portions.
- 500 grams minced beef
- 150 grams bacon, diced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large leek, rinsed and diced
- 2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 sticks of celery, diced
- 1 zucchini, grated
- 150 grams mushrooms, sliced, chopped or finely minced
- 125 grams frozen spinach, thawed and excess moisture squeezed out
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian or mixed herbs
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, torn
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste/concentrate
- 375 gram jar pasta sauce
- 1 cup red wine
- 1/2 beef stock
- 250 grams ricotta cheese
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 cup grated fresh mozzarella
- 1 cup grated parmesan
- 54 wonton wrappers
- Heat the olive oil in the base of a searing slow cooker or frying pan and add the leek, carrot, celery and garlic and cook over a high heat until the leeks are beginning to soften. Take your time with this step, this is the basis for the fantastic flavoured sauce.
- Add the diced bacon and cook until browned, break up the mince and add to the vegetable and bacon mix and cook, breaking up the lumps until lightly browned. Don’t overcook the mince here. You want a little bit of colour, but not too dark.
- Add 1 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper, the dried herbs and tomato paste concentrate and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the red wine and cook, stirring until wine is reduced then add the beef stock.
- Add the mushroom and grated zucchini (and any other vegetables you think you can hide).
- Add the mixture to your slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours or alternatively allow to simmer on the stove over a low heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. If cooking on the stove top add an extra cup of stock or water and keep an eye that the sauce doesn’t dry out.
- Once sauce is cooked and slightly cooled add in the fresh basil, reserving a little for garnish if desired.
- Whilst sauce is cooking prepare the spinach and ricotta filling by combining ricotta, beaten egg, spinach, nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and the zest and juice of the lemon.
- Preheat oven to 180c or 160c fan-forced and lightly grease 3 x 6 capacity large muffin trays.
- Add a tablespoon of the sauce to the bottom of each muffin tin to stop the wonton wrappers from sticking.
- Add a wonton wrapper to each muffin tin and top with a layer of meat sauce.
- Top with another wonton wrapper, adding in the opposite direction to the first wrapper so the corners fill the empty space of the muffin tin.
- Top with a layer of the spinach mixture, another wonton wrapper and another layer of meat sauce.
- Combine the parmesan and mozzarella and sprinkle evenly over each muffin tin.
- Bake in the preheated oven until the cheese is melted and golden, about 20-25 minutes.
- Serve with salad and garlic bread. Also delicious eaten cold!
- Servings : 9
- Ready in : 300 Minutes
- Recipe Type : Beef, Pasta, Slow Cooker
- Ingredient : Beef, Pasta