Not suitable for vegans

An uninspiring name, and a dead easy thing to cook. This is probably the first recipe I ever learnt to cook. It's versatile and it's surprisingly tasty.

There are three parts to the recipe, each forming a separate layer of the bake:

  • Rice
  • tomato sauce
  • cheese sauce
  • You will need a lasgane type dish and an oven. I won't specify quantities, as firstly they will depend on the size of your dish, and secondly it doesn't really matter.


    You can use any type of rice, though I prefer to use either brown rice, or a long grain rice. It is important to wash the rice thoroughly before you cook it, as you will not be rising it after cooking.

    Cook the rice in a strongish vegetable stock until tender. Drain, and then stir in one beaten egg. Place this gloopy mixture in the bottom of your dish.

    Tomato Sauce

    There are only two vital components to the tomato sauce: tomatoes and onion. Anything else you add depends on your personal preferences, and also what vegetables are available. I like to use a few courgettes, mushrooms and red peppers and then any other vegetables to hand.

    Fry chopped onion in oil, I'd recommend adding a few crushed cloves of garlic, but if you don't like it leave it out. Once the onions are translucent and just colouring at their edges, add some chopped tomatoes. Then throw in your vegetables and cook until the sauce is nice and thick.

    If like me, you're a bit of a kitchen ponce, there are certain little tricks you can employ to get the sauce tasting tickety-boo. Firstly the addition of sundried tomatoes will raise any tomato sauce from the tasty to the sublime.
    Secondly if you add a pint of stock to the sauce, and then let the sauce reduce, you'll find the flavours greatly enhanced this of course takes time, and like most of these extra bits, if you can't be bothered, don't worry..
    Red peppers can be a bit bland at times, which can be transformed by blackening the skins under a grill or over a flame if you have a gas hob; then put them in a plastic bag and leave to cool, once cool peel of the skins. Your peppers should be yummy now.
    The final thing to add to the sauce would be fresh herbs. I like using basil and thyme.

    Once your sauce is nice and thick pour it over the rice. You'll know when it's ready, as there should be very little liquid.

    Cheese Sauce

    A bechamel sauce is pretty easy to make, but if you can't be bothered buy a ready made one.
    For the sauce, melt some butter in a pan, add sifted flour until you get a nice dough ball. To this add warn milk and stir. You can add the milk gradually or all at once if it's warm enough. You need to add enough milk so that the sauce is thick but not too runny. Then thow in cheese. Finally add a beaten egg, which will just make the sauce more light when baked.

    The cheese sauce can of course be made better, and if you care to try some of these tips, I think you'll find it useful. Firstly, when adding the milk, you can infuse the milk with a few black peppercorns and a bay leaf whilst you warm the milk.
    Add half a teaspoon of mustard to the sauce for extra taste. Any mustard except hot-dog type stuff should work.
    Use good cheese. A blend of a nice mature cheddar and fresh parmesan works best. Don't be tempted to use the pots of grated parmesan that supermarkets foist upon us. They are the devils work and should be avoided at all cost.

    Once your happy with your sauce, pour it over the vegetables. Place in a hot oven, I think gas mark 7 is best, but I've yet to work out what this translates to in my new electric oven. You'll know when it's cooked, because the cheese sauce will have turned into a nice brown, crispy covering.

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