The recipe makes plenty of béchamel sauce, but it’ll keep 2–3 days covered and refrigerated. Use in vegetable gratins, stuffed jacket potatoes, or beignets or fritters.
600ml whole milk
½ teaspoon peppercorns
2 bay leaves
few blades of mace or a grating of fresh nutmeg
large sprig of fresh thyme
60 grams butter
5 level tablespoons plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
Meatballs and sauce
300 grams best-quality pork and fennel sausages
1 clove garlic, crushed 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 × 400 gram can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato concentrate
Spinach and pasta squares
knob of butter
130g bag baby spinach leaves
1 cup freshly grated parmesan
freshly grated nutmeg
300g lasagne festonate (I used Molisana) or lasagne sheets (use two per stack)
Béchamel sauce: Scald milk in a saucepan with peppercorns, bay leaves, mace and thyme. Cover and set aside.
In a clean pan, melt butter, stir in flour and blend in strained milk one-third at a time. Return pan to heat and stir until boiling.
Reduce heat, stir constantly for a minute or two, then add salt. Turn off heat and cover with a lid.
Meatballs and sauce: Gently squeeze sausage filling out of casing. Roll into small balls between damp palms to shape. Keep chilled until required.
Put garlic, rosemary and oil in a medium saucepan and cook for 2–3 minutes. Add tomatoes, rinse can with 1⁄4 cup water and add water and tomato concentrate to pan. Bring to a gentle bubble. Lower heat and cook gently for about 12 minutes, stirring from time to time. Do not let sauce become dry.
Add meatballs, bring back to a gentle bubble, then cook very gently for 10 minutes. Season with salt.
Spinach and pasta: Cook spinach in a little melted butter in a pan over medium-low heat until it wilts. Season with salt and freshly grated nutmeg. Turn off heat.
Cook pasta in plenty of gently boiling well-salted water until just al dente. Drain and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of oil.
To assemble: Place a strip of pasta on a lined shallow ovenproof dish. Spoon some meatballs and sauce on one end with a few blobs of béchamel sauce, a few leaves of spinach and a sprinkle of parmesan. Fold pasta over filling then put on another layer of ingredients on folded pasta. Repeat to make 4 layers. Finish with parmesan.
Bake in oven preheated to 220°C for 12–15 minutes, or until hot and bubbling. Makes 6–8 stacks