RUGBY league and the culinary arts are not often spoken of in the same breath.
However NRL star Ben Ross says being a footballer and a foodie often go hand in hand.
Cronulla Sharks prop Ross reveals some of his favourite foods in Footy Flavours - a new cookbook that collects recipes from some of the game's biggest names.
While the unusual concept is sure to raise a few eyebrows, Ross said learning to cook and eating well were just part of life for top-flight players.
"I enjoy cooking," Ross said.
"I guess moving out of home at 17 and down here to Sydney, I had to learn to cook quickly and I suppose it's something that all footballers have to do.
"For a lot of guys, what makes or breaks them is their eating habits. If you're not eating right, it can hamper your form."
Footy Flavour contains 75 recipes from current and past NRL stars including Ross, Billy Slater, Darren Lockyer and Gorden Tallis.
Recipes include Ross's take on lasagne, Lockyer's Asian-style snapper and Tallis's mango and strawberry prawn salad.
Ross said he learnt how to cook any way he could - through cookbooks, watching videos on YouTube and by studying family and friends.
With his wife Renai expecting their first child, Ross has become the chef in his house.
He said he had come up with his recipe for a meat and vegetable lasagne through simple trial and error - just using whatever he had in the kitchen and sticking with it if it worked: "I just mix things together. I grab whatever's in the fridge and if I'm lucky enough, it works."
Footy Flavours by Ben Ross. Publisher: Random House, RRP $34.95. Available in bookstores now.
The book also aims to raise awareness for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.
Ben Ross's Lasagne
spray of olive oil
1kg lean beef mince
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon Moroccan spice mix
pinch of dried chilli flakes
2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes
½ cup (140g tub) tomato paste
250g pkt frozen spinach, thawed
500g fresh ricotta
salt and pepper
500g lasagne sheets
150g sweet potato, very finely sliced
1 cup grated mozzarella
Spray a large, deep non-stick frying pan with oil, and heat over medium heat. Add the beef, onion, garlic, Moroccan spice and chilli flakes.
Cook for about five minutes, breaking up any lumps of mince with a wooden spoon as it cooks, until browned. Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Squeeze as much water as you can from the spinach. Spread out the spinach, and finely chop. Combine the ricotta and spinach, and season with salt and pepper.
Arrange one quarter of the lasagne sheets over the base of a 26cm x 20cm lasagne dish, and spread half the mince mixture over. Add another layer of lasagne sheets, and spread the ricotta mixture evenly over. Arrange a single layer of sweet potato on the ricotta.
Add another layer of pasta sheets, and spread the remaining mince mixture over. Top with the remaining pasta sheets, and sprinkle with the mozzarella.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Stand the lasagne for 20 minutes before cooking, so the pasta sheets begin to absorb the liquid.
Stand the dish on an oven tray, and cover with oiled foil. Bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and cook a further 15 minutes until golden brown, bubbling, and the pasta is tender.
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