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Vegetable Lasagne

16 Nov

I really don’t want to have a conversation about my oven tray.

As a big fan of both vegetables and carbs a veggie lasagne always gets a thumbs up from me so you’d think I’d cook it all the time. But you’d be wrong. Which is just so like you. This was the first lasagne I ever made at the grand old age of 31 and it was LOVELY. Probably because it’s a How to make the perfect… recipe from the Guardian.

It’s supposed to serve six but mine served four very greedy people, with some of the sauce left over (which I stuck in the freezer and then used later in a bolognese). The recipe also used two cloves of garlic which I laughed at and completely ignored and other bits and pieces which I changed because obviously I know best.

You need:

  • 3 aubergines (four if they’re small)
  • 2 red peppers
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • A can of chopped tomatoes
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • A handful of basil leaves
  • 500g of ricotta
  • 75g of Parmesan (I know some vegetarians don’t eat cheese, though I’ve never met one, and I am sure they know the best vegetarian version of Parmesan better than I do)
  • Lasagne sheets

Preheat your oven to 200°c/gas mark 6 and lightly grease a baking tray.

With a sharp knife prick your aubergines all over. If you don’t they will EXPLODE. Or something.

Put all the veg in the oven for about 40 minutes or until they’re soft and the skin is blistered and black, mine took a while longer than that so just keep an eye on it.

Unless you have asbestos fingers let them cool slightly and then peel off the charred skin, remove the seeds from the peppers, and then finely chop together. It’s messy.

In a pan over a low heat start to fry your garlic, but don’t let it brown. I have completely given up on chopping garlic and now just always use a garlic crusher. Life is too short. A good garlic press is one of my favourite kitchen utensils and yes, I have a list. Don’t put them in the dishwasher though or you’ll regret it. I love garlic but not enough to drink out of garlic flavoured glasses.

Chuck your vegetables in with the garlic and let them cook down for a bit before adding your tomatoes. Fill the can half way with water, slosh it round so it picks up any tomato left on the side and pour into the sauce, you can use a little more if you think it’s needed.

Add a decent splash of balsamic. If you are the sort of person who screams at recipes that don’t give you an actual amount (why are you here?) or aren’t very confident, let’s call it a tablespoon.

Add salt and pepper, give everything a stir and let it cook down until you have something, you know, that looks like it goes in a lasagne.

Season your ricotta REALLY well – if you have some nutmeg a pinch of that wouldn’t be unwelcome – and add half the Parmesan. Beat it really well with a fork. If you don’t it’s almost impossible to spread and it’ll be both frustrating and sad. The Guardian recipe adds toasted pine nuts to the cheese but I found them overpowering so have banished them.

Heat the oven to 180°c/gas mark 4 and get assembling.

Spoon a layer of the vegetable sauce on the bottom of your chosen lasagne vessel to stop everything sticking and then layers go like this:

Pasta.
Sauce.
Cheese.
Repeat.

Scatter your basil leaves over the sauce layers and whe you get to the top finish with a blanket of the ricotta and sprinkle over the rest of the Parmesan. Go mad and add more! It’s lasagne!

Into the oven for about 40 minutes or until everything is golden and lasagney. Cook on a baking tray as it will – and should – bubble up over the sides.

Now listen carefully, this is the most important part of the whole recipe and I will know if you aren’t paying attention: when you take the lasagne out of the oven LET IT REST FOR AT LEAST FIFTEEN MINUTES. I cannot stress this enough. It allows everything to firm up and just makes it BETTER. It’s worth the wait.

Serve up and enjoy with a big salad and an even bigger glass of red.

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