So it’s been a while since I last uploaded a recipe and I wanted to choose something I not only enjoy eating but also cook often – owing to it’s ease and speed to prepare. You can expect the preparation to take anywhere from 15-30 minutes depending on your ability to multitask; I set myself a challenge every time I prepare this meal to have it ready in less than 15 minutes – because I’m cool like that. Don’t forget that you will need about an hour to cook your Lasagne and I recommend allowing time for it to sit prior to cooking too.
Usually you get a long story before the recipe explaining some kind of child hood memory linked to when mom used to make this dish every Thursday and it was so wholesome; there are no memories for me. I just really enjoy Pasta and more than anything, I really like meals that don’t take a lot of time but are filled with bags of flavour and wholesome, healthy ingredients. So lets do this.
- Lasagne Pasta Sheets – Whole Wheat is best but White will do
- Spinach – Frozen or Fresh
- 200g Soya Mince – if you don’t enjoy mince then consider substituting it with Mushrooms
- 2 Onions – Red or White, your choice
- Red Sauce
- 1 x 400g Canned Chopped Tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp Tomato Purée
- 2 Cloves of Garlic, Crushed not chopped
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- White Sauce
- 100g Non Dairy Butter
- 50g Flour
- 300ml Warm Non-Dairy Milk
- Salt & Pepper to Taste
Lets start with the red sauce as this will need to simmer and reduce for a short while, allowing the flavours to mix and the vegetables to soften. So simply lob it all in a pot and bring it to a simmer. Please note, you have two choices with the garlic to either dice it and fry it lightly or just simply crush it – both are good methods to release the flavours. Add the spinach in with the onions and either your mince and/or mushrooms and allow it to simmer for 10-15 minutes on a low heat.
While the red sauce is simmering, time to make the white sauce too! This requires a bit of finesse and concentration as you can burn the ingredients quite easily. Warm the pot and add the butter, stirring it often so the butter only melts and doesn’t boil. Once it’s fully melted and liquid, slowly add your flour, stirring it in completely. You’ll be wanting a soft paste mixture so add more flour until you achieve that kind of consistency.
Next, grab a whisk and add your milk slowly, stirring your sauce until it is thick like traditional white sauce. If you thin it too much, add some more sifted flour and keep stirring with the whisk. Once you’ve got a good “Saucy” thickness, all that remains is to add some salt and pepper to taste.
Now you just stand in the middle of your kitchen, shout “LASAGNE ASSEMBLE” and everything will materialise into a tasty lasagne…
But seriously, it’s almost as easy as that. Layer the ovenproof dish with as many Pasta Sheets as you want, making sure that each layer is only one sheet thick, 3-4 layers is usually the sweet spot. Each layer should have your red sauce mix, pasta sheets and some white sauce, being sure to spread the white sauce evenly across the pasta sheets. Save a little extra for the top Pasta Layer. It’s at this stage I’ll usually set the assembled lasagne aside for a couple of hours as it allows the pasta sheets to soften and the flavours to infuse. It also helps to cover the top with some foil as it will keep the heat in and you’ll need it to be covered for the first step of cooking.
Arguably the easiest step of the entire process – pre heat your oven to 180c (Fan) or 200c (Electric). Chuck your lasagne into the centre of the oven, covered with foil – I usually poke a few toothpicks in to stop the foil resting on the top of the dish and having to peel it off, ruining the presentation. Just DON’T FORGET to take them out afterwards. Check on the dish after 45 minutes, it should be hot but pale on top. If it has begun to brown, you’re almost there so remove the foil and cook for a further 5-10 Minutes uncovered. If it’s still pale, that’s fine too – remove the foil and return to the oven for a further 15-20 minutes, checking on it regularly to make sure the top doesn’t burn. Once it’s cooked, take it out and let it cool for a short while prior to serving. It’s at this stage you can leave the oven on and cook off the BONUS SIDE!
Lets face it, Lasagne isn’t very much fun without Garlic Bread so lets make some. You can just buy it but home made is always much better. I usually grab some pre-made baguettes from the shops. Get yourself 4 or 5 good sized garlic cloves and crush or chop them. Into a small bowl add 80-100g butter and your garlic, mixing it all together. Slice the baguette and between each slice, spread an equal amount of your garlic butter. Wrap the baguette in foil, and pop it in the oven at the same temperature, leaving it to cook for 10 minutes. Then take it out, unwrap it from the foil and return it to the oven for a further 5 minutes (Longer if you like your baguette crispier).
That really is it. I’m sure there are some Italians out there who may not care for this loose interpretation of a fine national dish but I think it sure beats getting it all from a jar or buying a pre-prepared frozen dish. If you want to trim out some fats, trying using a light version of your non dairy butter. For healthier carbs stick to whole wheat pasta and bread; it doesn’t taste any different but you could find the ingredients harder to buy. If you want to enjoy this dish but need to skip the gluten, you’ll only need to swap out the pasta sheets for the gluten free equivalent. Please let me know what you think in the comments and if you have any tips or suggestions I’d love to hear them! See you soon!
NUTRITION – PER 1/4 Serving of Lasagne (Average)
- Calories – 514
- Protein – 23g
- Carbohydrates – 65g
- Fiber – 7g
- Fats – 17g (Saturated 1g)