Anna Tobias has cooked at many of our favourite places to eat, from River Cafe to Rochelle Canteen. She's always been a supporter of British cheese as well as a long-standing wholesale customer of ours. We think you'll enjoy her moreish recipe for Berkswell and Pea Lasagna.
"This is quite an adaptable recipe and can be tweaked depending on preference or what you have available. If you are vegetarian then by all means omit the ham; if you don’t have ham, but do have bacon then this can be substituted (in which case, cook like lardons in with the onion). Equally, feel free to be expressive with the vegetables and substitute peas for courgettes, for example. The chicory in the recipe was to add some wetness to the pea sauce but can be replaced with any green-coloured lettuce or left out entirely. I used frozen peas as the season hasn’t quite started yet and they are excellent in any case. Do use fresh if you can and want to – this will add extra sweet luxuriousness."
Serves a greedy 4 or a sensible 6
1 onion, finely chopped
5 spring onions, finely sliced
1 white chicory head, shredded
1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped
150g sliced, cooked ham (though would also work with cured ham)
Approx. 18 dried lasagne sheets
Salt & pepper
For the cheese sauce:
65g unsalted butter
175g Berkswell, finely grated
Salt & pepper
¼ nutmeg, grated
Preheat the oven to 190.
Start by making the pea sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add both onions. Sweat on a medium heat for 10 minutes until softened (do not allow to colour). Add in the shredded chicory, stir together and season with salt and pepper. Cook with the lid on for 5 minutes.
Stir in the peas at this point, bring to a simmer and then turn the heat right down. Cook with the lid on for half an hour, stirring every now and then to ensure there is enough moisture in the pan. You want the peas to look an almost sludgy colour – think tinned/jarred peas. No blazing pea green colours here, I’m afraid… This slow cooking turns the peas deliciously sweet. Season with salt and pepper as necessary.
Whilst the peas are cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. In batches, drop 5-6 sheets of lasagne into the water and cook for a few minutes until the sheets become pliable and half cooked. Remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon into cold water and move them around so they don’t stick together. Cook all the sheets in this way. Don’t throw away the cooking water!
It’s likely that the pea sauce may need a little loosening, so add a ladle or two of the pasta water into the peas until you have a saucy consistency. If you happen to have chicken stock then this would be good here too. Bring to a simmer so the sauce has a moment to find itself and adjust. Once you’re happy with the consistency, stir in the chopped parsley. I like to blend about a third of the sauce. If you have a stick blender, then give it a few whizzes around the pot. Otherwise blend a third of the mix in a food processor or blender and add it back to the sauce.
Next, make your cheese sauce. Melt the butter and add the flour. Cook on a low heat for 2 minutes, then whisk in all the milk at once. Cook on a medium heat, stirring continuously until the sauce has thickened and reached a gentle simmer. Add in 110g of the Berkswell, along with the nutmeg and salt and pepper.
Have a final taste of the sauces and make sure you’re happy with the seasoning.
Now you can assemble… Into your chosen baking dish, spread a thin layer of pea sauce and cheese sauce. Then add lasagne sheets, followed again by pea & cheese sauces. This time add a layer of sliced ham before placing over the lasagne sheets. Continue this way until everything has been used up, ensuring you leave a generous amount of cheese sauce for a thick top layer. Sprinkle with the remaining Berkswell and bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes.
Allow the lasagne to sit for a good 15-20 minutes before serving.