ASD friendly Lasagne
This new recipe was a breakthrough moment for me. The last two years have largely (by necessity) revolved around food from the point of view of food allergies and nutrition. I’m now finding myself needing to go a step further and think about recipes from a sensory point of view. Getting Miss 3 to eat meat and protein is an ongoing challenge; her soy allergy alone (especially because it extends to emulsifiers and vegetable oil) mean that I can hardly take her to a McDonalds in desperation and order her a cheeseburger. The secret to this recipe is minimising textures (and a food processor!)
She has until now mostly refused to eat mince (of various flavours and in various forms) although sometimes I’ll get lucky. She quite liked the process of making the Chinese Pork Koftas and it helped that I’ve found a soy & preservative free plum dipping sauce. I was over the moon when she actually ate this and asked for more!
Oh, and to any Italians reading this – I apologise. This recipe is not so much lasagne as it is one of those movies ‘inspired’ by a true life story. I know it would make the judges on MasterChef squirm but the main thing for me is getting a whole pile of nutrition into us simply and easily.
- 500g beef mince
- Rice bran oil (for cooking)
- Garlic powder
- Onion flakes
- Tomato Passata (400ml)
- 1 x carrot (grated)
- Bunch of silverbeet (finely chopped)
- 400g tin of brown lentils (washed and drained)
- Dry sheets of lasagna (as many as needed)
- Parmesan cheese (grated)
- Tasty or Colby cheese (grated)
Allergies: gluten free*, soy free, egg free, nut free.
Where’s the milk you say? I didn’t make a Bechamel sauce for this recipe for two reasons. One: she had a sensory anxiety attack at the supermarket (damn those refridgeration unit motors!) so I had to abandon the shop and didn’t get the milk I needed. Two: sometimes when shooting for the stars, you need to aim for the moon first. I was concerned about having three different tastes / textures in a single dish.
Why not use fresh onion and garlic? Because she doesn’t like them (I do). If you’ve ever watched an adult with an aversion to onion try to remove each individual slippery sliver from their plate then you know it’s sometimes better to find a compromise and not sweat the small stuff.
How do I make this gluten free? There are gluten free lasagne sheets available (although they are pricey). For instance, Explore Cuisine do an Organic Green Lentil Lasagne.
- Brown the mince in a frying pan (or electric wok) with a little oil + garlic, salt, and onion.
- Add the tomato passata, carrot, silverbeet, and lentils. Simmer for 20-30 minutes on a low heat. Stir as needed.
- Grate in some parmesan cheese to taste.
- Let this very non-traditional beef ragu cool down for a bit and then blitz it in a food processor. It doesn’t need to be a smooth paste but it should become much more evenly textured (as seen in the photo).
- Layer the mince mix in your favourite lasagne dish (or dishes) alternating mince, the pasta sheets, grated cheese. Note: for the top layer of (dry) pasta you may want to add a few tablespoons of water every 10 minutes or so during cooking.
- Bake at 160’C for 3-40 minutes. Basically, you’re cooking the pasta and heating the mince. If you’re using a fresh pasta then it will probably cook quicker.
Tip: I liked the cheesy crunchy pasta topping and the textural difference on my plate of having both that and the soft pasta. Depending on the textural / sensory preferences of your ASD child, you may want to serve just one of those. I gave Miss 3 the soft pasta and the mince.