Incredibly, it had been a full 6 months since my last post. During that period of hibernation from the blog sphere many things happened, but for the most part I was in survival mode through a long cold winter (both literally and metaphorically). With summer just around the corner and glimpses of warmth peeking through, I feel it’s appropriate to shake the winter’s blues and get back to the swing of it again with a Meatless Monday recipe.
Vegetable lasagna is one of those comfort dishes that can warm a cold winter’s evening. Unfortunately like its cousin the cottage pie, it is not the most photogenic of meals. Though Billy from A Table For Two can make the dish look oh so deliciously glamorous. On a side note, today is his book launch, a big congrats to him and a reminder to myself that I will need to pick up a copy at some stage.
The following recipe is one that I made up and tweak everytime I make lasagna, enough so that it feels like I need to record it for posterity sake to refer to in the future.
Ingredients for lasagna and filling – serves 4
- 1 packet of lasagna sheets (you don’t need to use the entire box just enough to layer the lasagna)
- 1 zucchini sliced
- 100g of mixed mushroom (swiss brown and shitake)
- 1 large egg plant 500g, sliced horizontally
- 1 can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 brown onion – diced
- 1 jar of passata
- teaspoon of chilli flakes
- 1/2 tablespoon of oregano
- 1 clove crushed garlic
- 250g vegetable mince (optional)
- Olive oil
- 50g of parmesan and tasty cheese mix
Ingredients for bechamel sauce
- 60g butter, chopped
- 1/3 cup plain flour
- 4 1/2 cups milk
- 75g parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 25g tasty cheese, finely grated
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- good pinch ground nutmeg
Method for bechamel sauce
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes or until bubbling. Remove from heat. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly, until mixture is smooth. Return to heat. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 10 to 12 minutes or until sauce comes to the boil, thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in both cheeses salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
Method for lasagna filling
The night before slice the egg plant horizontally to create egg plant steaks. Cover both sides with salt, then layer egg plant in a dish and leaver overnight in the fridge. This will draw out the water from the eggplant and result in non spongy egg plant. The next day, rinse the salt from the egg plant steaks the next day. Place on paper towel and put aside.
Heat oven to 200 degree.
Heat oil in a pot. Brown the diced onion until tender, then add crushed garlic. Add vegetarian mince and mushroom until mushroom is wilted. Pour chopped tomatoes and passata into the mixture, add chilli flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Wait until the sauce is boiling slighty, add oregano and sliced zucchini to the mix. Wait until the zucchini is slightly wilted and take the pot off the heat.
Layer the bottom of a lasagna dish with the eggplant steaks, handful of the mixed cheeses, the tomato mixture, the bechamel sauce followed by the lasagna sheet. Repeat the order with the next layer and continue building the lasagna ending with the lasagna sheet on top. Cover the lasagna sheet with remaining grated cheese mix. Pop into the oven, turn down the heat to 150 degree, then bake for 30 minutes. Leave the lasagna to cool in the oven in order for the top layer of the lasagna to crisp and turn brown without burning.