Veggie Lasagne


For the brown sauce
100g lentils, 5 leeks, 1-2 carrots, 3-4 cloves of garlic, about half a pound of mushrooms past their best, some oil, a carton of passata (c500g), a good squirt of tomato paste, some soya sauce, Worcestershire sauce, fresh oregano, black pepper.

And also
bout 6 lasagne floorboards (enough to layer into your lasagne dish twice); some oil, flour and milk for the white sauce; some grated cheese for the topping.

1. Put the lentils on to cook. Simmer them until they are mushy – about 20-25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, finely chop the leeks, carrot and garlic. Whizz up the mushrooms with a blender (or finely chop them if you prefer, but this is NOT FUN if the mushrooms are turning slimy and anyway your toddler will annoy you by picking out every last scrap if you haven’t liquidised them).

3. Warm up some oil in a very large pan and cook the leeks, carrot, garlic, and mushrooms for a few minutes until soft. By this time, unless you are a quicker vegetable chopper than I am, the lentils should be cooked. Add them into the pan along with the other “brown sauce” ingredients and stir together, cooking gently for a little longer (up to 15-20 minutes, depending how well-cooked you want the leeks to be in the final dish!)

4. Meanwhile, put the floorboards in the lasagne dish or a large pan and cover in boiling water. Take care or they will stick together! (A little oil in the water may help, otherwise just peel them carefully apart afterwards.) Set aside to soften.

5. Meanwhile, turn on the oven to 200C and make the white sauce. See here for instructions.

6. Assembly time!
(a) First, remove your softened lasagne boards from the water to make sure you have got them nicely separated if necessary – I recommend adding cold water and then using your hands, as utensils may break the pasta.
(b) Then put about half the brown sauce in the bottom of a lasagne dish (any old casserole type oven proof dish, preferably squarish).
(c) Arrange half the lasagne on top.
(d) Pour / spread about half the white sauce over this.
(e) Do it again: brown sauce, pasta, white sauce.
(f) Sprinkle cheese on top.

7. Bake the whole thing in the oven for 20-30 minutes.

Depending how hungry you are, this recipe will do about 4-6 helpings.

I don’t generally bother making lasagne unless I have someone to cook for (I did today!) but it really isn’t as complicated or time-consuming as you think it’s going to be. The longest thing is chopping all the vegetables! Anyway, if you are cooking for someone else, I would definitely recommend this dish for guests who “don’t do vegetarian food”: the brown sauce is so good (see leftovers, above) that only the most die-hard carnivore can fail to be impressed. Enjoy!