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Vegetarian Lasagne



Lasagne is not a dish that I make very often.  First of all because it is somewhat labor intensive and secondly because there are only two of us in our house and one of us hates pasta for the most part, although I do keep working on him!


It wasn't something that my mother ever made for us when I was a child. I was pretty much an adult before I had any other than the Chef Boy Ar Dee kind. You used to be able to get it in packaged mixes, like the pizza one or the spaghetti one.  I actually used to like them.  I have not had one of any of those in years and years so I can't say if it was because I had bad taste, or if they actually did taste alright!  It was probably more a case of never having had the real thing, so not having anything to compare it to!


Occasionally I like to make a vegetarian lasagne, and this is one of my favourite ways to do it. Unless I am having company, I tend to break it up into two casseroles, so that I can freeze one to haul put at a later date. Lasagne is one of those dishes that lends itself perfectly to this!


I don't know how other bloggers get those beautifully photographed square edged photos of their lasagnes.  I have never ever been quite able to master that. Perhaps its because I am too greedy and wanting to dig in right away!


In any case, this is a delicious vegetarian version filled with cougettes (zucchini), aubergine (eggplant), tomatoes, and onions, with a ricotta and spinach cheese filling and a topping of rich bechamel.


I thought I would be fancy this time and topped it with some sliced fresh tomatoes that needed using up, prior to baking.  I thought they looked really nice and they went very well with all the other flavours.


You can leave them off if you would prefer or if you don't have any. This version of lasagne is very, VERY good.  Rich and delicious.  I usually serve some crusty bread and a salad on the side.


*Vegetarian Lasagne*
Makes 12 servings


This is fresh tasting and delicious. If you like you can prepare this in two separate dishes, and freeze one (unbaked) for later on.  


For the sauce:
2 TBS olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes
2 medium courgettes, washed, dried, trimmed and diced (zucchini)
2 medium red bell peppers, trimmed, deseeded, and diced
1 medium aubergine, trimmed and diced (eggplant)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp each dried thyme and oregano
1/2 tsp each salt and black pepper
2 400g tins chopped tomatoes in juice (28 ounces or 796ml)
1 large handful each chopped basil and parsley 


For the ricotta filling:
300g of baby leaf spinach (10 ounces)
1 medium free range eggs
475g ricotta cheese (16 ounces)
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
230g grated mozarella cheese (2 cups)
180g grated Parmesan cheese (1 cup) 


For the bechamel:
2 TBS butter 50g of butter
2 TBS flour 40g plain flour
360ml milk, heated ( 1 1/2 cups)
1 vegetable stock pot or cube
45g of  grated Parmesan Cheese (1/4 cup) 


You will also need:
24 sheets of no-cook lasagne (in North America 16 lasagna noodles, cooked)
115g of grated mozarella cheese (1 cup)
2 medium tomatoes sliced 



First make the bechamel. Melt the butter in a large saucepan.   Once it begins to foam, whisk in the flour.   Slowly whisk in the warm milk, whisking constantly.  Whisk until the mixture begins to thicken.  Whisk in the vegetable stock cube/pot and the cheese.   Make sure these are well combined.  Taste and adjust seasoning as required with some salt and black pepper.  Cover and set aside. 


To make the vegetable sauce, heat teh oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onion, garlic and pepper flakes, stirring occasionally over medium heat, until softened. Add the courgettes and aubergine, bayleaf, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring, until the edges of the aubergine are golden.  Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a boil.  You can add a bit of hot water if it is too thick. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for about half an hour.  Stir in the basil and the parsley.  Set aside. 


To make the ricotta fillling, wilt the baby spinach in a hot skillet. (I just use a pair of tongs and keep picking it up and turning it until it is completely wilted. It doesn't take very long.)  Squeeze as much liquid as you can from it, cool and then chop. Beat together the eggs and the nutmeg. Stir in the ricotta, spinach, mozarella and Parmesan.  
 

Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5.  Butter a 13 by 9 inch deep baking dish.  Spread a dessertspoon each of the bechamel and the vegetable sauce in the bottom of the dish and top with 1/4 of the noodles. Spoon 1/3 of the remaining vegetable sauce over the noodles.  Top with another 1/4 of the noodles.  Top with another 1/3 of the vegetable sauce and top with the ricotta filling. (Dollop it over the top and spread out as best you can.) Top with another 1/4 of the noodles and then top with the remaining vegetable sauce.  Place the remaining noodles on top and spread the bechamel cheese over top to cover.  Sprinkle with the remaining mozarella cheese.  Evenly space slices of tomato on top.  


Cover loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake for a further 20 to 25 minutes, until heated through, golden and bubbling.  Let stand for 20 minutes before serving. Cut into squares to serve. 


To freeze - Make the casserole in two separate baking tins, 9 inch square in size.  Omit the sliced tomatoes from the one you want to freeze.  Cover tightly with foil and then place into an airtight freezer bag, label and date. Freeze. When you want to bake it, remove it from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before and allow to thaw overnight and proceed as above.



I actually baked this one day last week, but looking at the pictures I am wanting to drag the other half out of the freezer and bake it for our tea tonight.  MUST resist!  Bon Appetit!

QuickEdit
Marie Rayner
5 Comments
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5 comments:

  1. Ooooh another goodie. I’ve copied the link into my ‘notes’ section of I-pad for inspiration when menu planning. The ricotta and nutmeg would be absolutely delicious too. Thanks so much Marie.
    Kylie xx

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    Replies
    1. I hope you will try it Kylie. It is uber delicious! I admit I am not overly fond of mince (not even veggie mince) in a lasagne. Its a texture thing. But I adore a good veggie one! xo

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  2. I love veggie L..I do find lasagnas very labor and pot intensive..lol and try and cut back on pots and use the no bake Barilla noodles that work fine..my daughters buy the Costco one..I looked at thm yesterday..cheaper to buy than make actually..smart cookies:) Maybe one day I will try one..but they have been frozen then thawed and there is so much!

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    Replies
    1. You are right Monique, they are very labor intensive! And, not cheap either, by the time you buy all the cheese, etc. So they are a rare treat. I looked at the Costco one (that is where I got the idea of putting sliced tomatoes on top) but so often I am disappointed by store made goodies. Homemade is always so much better. And you are right, their portions are so huge. This is a great bake. You can make and freeze prior to baking it. I use little tinfoil loaf sized pans that come with lined lids sometimes (If I have been smart and have picked some up) and they work a charm. With that I get at least four generous meals for us from them. One to eat now and three to freeze for later. xo

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    2. PS - Just a thought if you wanted to buy a Costco one, you could always cook it and then freeze it in portions after? I think that would be safe.

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