Thursday, 29 September 2016

Vegetarian Lasagna

I make my lasagna with either Puy lentils or vegetables; mainly a mixture of whatever is to hand!  I have been asked for the recipe, but as I don't usually measure the ingredients I feel that this is a little too rudimentary to be called a recipe.  All amounts are guesstimates as I go by the feel of the mixture rather than measuring everything.  This makes four servings.  
For the Puy lentil version you will need 250g of lentils pre-cooked as per the instructions on the packet.  I often cook the whole box full and then use the other half for a shepherdess-style pie.
For the vegetable version you will need one of the following:- courgettes, butternut squash, mushrooms or anything that you fancy.  Broccoli also works in this recipe. Chop to bite-sized pieces.
For both versions you will need:-

For the Base
Olive Oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 sweet pepper - red, orange or yellow, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped or crushed
herbs - de Provence, Italian or your own mix
500g passata

For the Sauce
1 heaped tbsp butter
2 heaped tbsps plain flour
0.5l milk
80g mature Cheddar, grated
optional - 0.5 tsp mustard powder or a few drops of Worcestershire sauce

Lasagna sheets that don't need pre-cooking
50g mature Cheddar, grated for the topping

Frying-pan.  Pyrex basin.  Oven-proof dish.

1.  Pre-heat oven to 190'C (if you have roasted your vegetables the oven will already be hot).
2. For the lentil version - Drain your pre-cooked Puy lentils.
For the vegetable version - Either roast your vegetable of choose or add to the pan to fry in stage 2.
3.  In a pan, heat oil and gently shallow fry the onions and pepper until soft.  Add the herbs.  If using courgettes or mushrooms I also add these to the pan.  Butternut squash I tend to roast.  As vegetables soften add the garlic.  Season when cooked and remove from the heat.
4. For the lentil version - Add the pre-cooked lentils to the onion mixture.
For the vegetable version - add any roasted vegetables to the onion mixture.  If vegetables are already in with the onions then you are ready for the next stage! :)  It may seem that there is a lot of passata, but the mixture dries up a little in the oven.
Both versions are now the same.
5.  Stir the passata into the lentil/vegetable mixture and set aside.
6.  We like cheese sauce in our lasagna!  You could omit the cheese and make a white sauce if you prefer.  I make my sauce in the microwave - 800w on high.  In a Pyrex bowl, melt the butter for approx. 10 seconds.  Stir in the flour and mustard powder if using.  Cook for 10 seconds.  Very gradually, stir in the milk.  Once you have a smooth paste, swap your spoon for a whisk and continue to add the remainder of the milk.  Cook for 1 minute, then stir.  Repeat this until the mixture is thickened.  The aim is for a thick sauce, thicker than usual so that it doesn't run in the lasagna.  Add the cheese and cook for a further minute or two.  Season with pepper.  If using Worcestershire sauce add it now.
7.  You now have all the ingredients ready and can begin assembling the lasagna.  Lightly oil your ovenproof dish (I bake mine in two dishes simply because that is what I have).
8.  Starting with a layer of the lentil/vegetable mixture, spread a thin layer at the bottom of the dish.  Place lasagna sheets on the mixture and spread a thin layer of cheese sauce over the pasta sheet.  Continue building up the layers and finish with a layer of the cheese sauce and the grated cheese reserved for the topping. 
9.  Bake at 190'C for approximately 20 minutes.

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