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05 January 2012

Best Vegie Lasagne really!

Why is this one the best ever? Well, if you are like me and at your local Italian and can never decide between the lasagne, spinach&ricotta cannelloni or aubergine(eggplant) parmagiana.. this recipe below rocks as it kinda is a bit of all 3! Enjoy and go ahead and freestyle with other ingredients, just make sure the veg are partly cooked first.

The healthier (low-carb) option: skip the lasagne sheets all together and just grill loads of eggplant/zucchini/ sweet potato/kumara/whatever is grillable within reason.

The meatier option: add 500gm mince (veal/pork/beef)  at the start of step 4.

Prep time: approx. 30 min. cooking time: approx. 1 hour

Kitchen stuff needed:
your 2 biggest pots with lids (or big plates to use as lids), grater, deep baking tray, 1 sharp knife, strainer/colander, chopping board, a few wooden spoons ( having a super small kitchen=no dishwasher, so minimal washing up!)

Ingredients from my garden:
1kg or 8 – 10 big stalks Silverbeet(or spinach)
6 -8 leaves of basil chopped loosely
8cm sprig of Rosemary, discard middle trunk and chop rest
1 small Lebanese cucumber            

Other Ingredients
Eggplant (Aubergine) x 3 (or 2 large ones) slices lengthways into 1 cm pieces
Lasagne sheets: I used the fresh one bought in supermarket – 400 or 500gm.
Ricotta cheese: 300gm

Tomato sauce

2 x Cans chopped tomatoes
1 x good squeeze of tomato paste
1 x large brown onion :: chopped
Basil & Rosemary as above

Cheese Sauce

60gm butter
½ cup Plain flour
½ cup grated tasty cheese
½ cup grated parmesan/Pecorino cheese
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup grated cheese
basil leaves ripped up if you have them in abundance like we do

Let’s get cookin:

1.       Turn oven onto 180 C
2.       Chop silverbeet and stalks into 2cm(1 in) chunks and throw in your 2 pots(saucepans). Fill the pots by about a third, pop on lid and put on the stove, cover and bring to the boil.
3.       Turn down heat, as silverbeet has reduced, transfer into one pot and simmer for approx. 15 min.
4.       Tomato sauce: rinse spare saucepan and put back on the heat, add onions, garlic, rosemary and basil. Cook  on high for 5 min, then add cans tomatoes and tom paste. Simmer for 15 min.
5.       Eggplant: lay flat and sprinkle lightly with salt. Lie down on the chopping board and allow sweating for approx. 5 – 10 min.
6.       Take silverbeet off stove and put in colander/strainer  to drain. Leave there to cool and then add ricotta and give a good stir
7.       Cheese sauce: rinse saucepan and return to high heat. melt butter and take off heat. Add flour stirring with wooden spoon to form a paste, no lumps please.
8.       Return to low heat and add milk about 150ml at a time stirring and allowing getting slightly thinker before adding milk again. Once all milk is used, add cheeses, nutmeg, S & P
9.       Eggplant grilling: We used a grill, or you can just pop under low grill or in frypan and grill for approx. 3 min until slightly softer.
10.   The fun Part: now to put it all together. Bring together your baking dish, lasagne sheets, cheesy sauce, tomato sauce and silverbeet & eggplant.
11.   Start by layering about ½ cup of tomato sauce, cover with lasagne sheets, then ½ silverbeet mixture, then a layer of aubergine, then tomatoes and repeat all this again ending up with the cheesy sauce on top with some extra grated cheese and your basil leaves. Go ahead and freestyle the layering if your heart desires.
12.   Bake  for 1 hour or until the top looks like golden cheesy goodness.

Sit for about 10 min and serve with a fresh cucumber and avocado side salad and a glass of Mornington region pinot. Yum. Serves 6.

Soundtrack for dinner: 'Seeker Lover Keeper'by Seeker Lover Keeper 

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