Sunday, May 16, 2010
Here's a fun fact: I used to be a vegetarian. We're talking ten years before I made the switch to the dark side... And during those many years I often found myself irritated by the limited selection of tasty meat-free options, and the repetitiveness of restaurant menus. For instance, yes I like eggplant and pumpkin, but do I want it to feature in every meal? No. For me it was not so much an ethical choice not to eat meat, but rather that I just didn't like the texture, and hence if I wanted a lasagne I didn't necessarily feel like layer upon layer of roasted vegetables, I just wanted a basic pasta sauce minus the mince. Luckily for me I love home cooking, so I was able to create my own deliciously simple vege recipes, that my friends and I could all enjoy, and that I still get requests for to this day.
The best thing about my lasagne is that you can use pretty much any veges you have laying around, so don't stress if you don't have everything on the list. Not to mention that the cheese sauce is to die for!
You will need roughly a 23 x 29 x 7cm oven dish for this recipe, and approximately 9 instant lasagne sheets.
For the pasta sauce:
700g passata (tomato puree)
400g canned diced tomatoes
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 red capsicum, diced
1 large carrot, grated
1/2 head broccoli, finely chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
2 large handfuls baby spinach
2 tsp dried basil
tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried parsley
Sea salt & cracked black pepper
For the cheese sauce:
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp plain all-purpose flour
3/4 cup grated cheddar (tasty) cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Sea salt & fine white pepper
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
In a large saucepan heat a tablespoon of oil, and fry off the onions and garlic until tender. Add the rest of the vegetables, and saute for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Pour over the canned tomatoes, passata and herbs, then season well with salt and pepper and allow to simmer for 20 minutes to get the flavours going.
Once you red sauce is almost ready you can prepare the cheese sauce. Start by melting the butter over a low heat, then add the flour and mix well. Cook the flour for a minute or two, stirring all the way, then gradually add milk (about 100ml at a time) stirring constantly so there are no lumps. Once you have added all the milk stir in the two cheeses, and mix well until it has melted through and the sauce is nicely thickened. Season with a little salt, and lots of white pepper.
To assemble the lasagne, start by spreading a little pasta sauce in the bottom of the oven dish, then a layer of lasagna sheets, top with plenty of pasta sauce and a good dollop of cheese sauce. I like to combine the sauces a little in each layer, for extra cheesy flavour. Continue layering, finishing with sauce on top, then sprinkle with extra grated tasty cheese.
Bake for 1 hour, or until golden brown and bubbling. Serve with a fresh green salad, heaps of garlic bread and of course a good glass of red wine. Heaven!
Serves 6 - 8.