Better than meat Vegetarian Lasagna
A well made vegetarian pasta can make you forget about meat (temporarily). This particular favourite of mine is a satisfactory meal served with a simple salad or some garlic bread.
The lasagna has 2 layers, mixed vegetables in a tomato sauce in the base and a cheesy spinach and mushroom layer in the second. All topped of with some more cheese for a nice crust.
Its a simple recipe, but takes a little bit of work. The reward is well worth it.
- Prep Time : 40 minutes
- Cook Time : 30 minutes for sauce and 30-40 minutes for final lasagna
- Active Time : approximately 60 minutes
For 4 people, based on a 2.5 ltr baking dish.
- 12 standard size lasagna sheets. I use the variety that does not need to be pre-boiled.
- 1 medium size green capsicum
- 1 medium size yellow capsicum
- 1 medium zucchini / 1 medium eggplant
- 200 grams cherry tomatoes / or similar deseeded and chopped tomatoes
- 200 grams tomato paste
- 200 grams mushrooms
- 800 grams spinach leaves
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 tablespoons of cream
- fresh basil / oregano / thyme or dried oregano or thyme
- Red chilli flakes to your liking
- 200 grams fresh mozzarella
- 50-60 grams parmesan or any preferred cheese for the top.
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Salt to taste
Tomato and Vegetable Sauce
- Chop the capsicum, zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms into a 1" dice.
- If using eggplant, once you have chopped it, rub a little salt into it and let it drain in a colander. This helps remove some of the bitter flavour of the eggplant. Leave it for 10 minutes and then give it a quick rinse
- Heat some olive oil and add the cherry tomatoes. Let them heat up a bit till they soften and start bursting with a little pressure, gently break down about 1/2 of the tomatoes and add the vegetables you are using.
- Mix them through and add the tomato puree, basil and other herbs.
- Season with salt and add the red chilli flakes to your desired level of heat.
- The vegetables should just slightly start to soften, no more, we want a chunky type of a sauce.
Spinach and mushroom sauce
- Prepare the spinach by blanching it in hot water for 4 minutes and then removing it and plunging it in ice water.
- Drain the spinach and squeeze all the water out of it. You will probably end up with about a 200 grams ball.
- Heat a little oil in a skillet and add the garlic, once it is fragrant, add the mushrooms and let them brown a bit. Add the spinach and mix everything together. Season with salt pepper
- Turn off the heat and add the cream to the spinach and mix it through.
Build the layers
- Put a little of the liquid from the tomato sauce in the base of the baking tray and spread it around.
- Put 3 sheets of the lasagna on top of the sauce. Try and cover the whole of the baking tray
- Put the vegetable and tomato sauce on top of the lasagna sheets. Avoid putting too much of just liquid and try and keep the sauce chunky. Reserve some of the sauce to dress the top of the lasagna
- Cover the tomatoes with more lasagna sheets
- The next layer is the spinach and mushroom layer. Cover the lasagna sheets completely.
- Once the spinach and mushroom layer is ready, put the fresh mozzarella on top of the spinach and mushroom.
- I usually tear chunks of the mozzarella and spread it around the spinach. You don’t want a complete layer of cheese, but studded throughout.
- Once the cheese is on, you want to put on the last layer of the lasagna sheets.
- Lightly dress the last layer of lasagna sheets with the remaining tomato sauce. You are not going to cover it completely, in-fact you want some of the sheet showing.
- Grate the parmesan finely and spread it over the tomato sauce and the pasta sheets. Again, you don’t want to have a complete layer of cheese, but just spread over
- Let the lasagna sit for 10 minutes to settle, and now it’s ready for baking.
- Pre-heat the oven at 200°C
- Lightly cover the baking tray with foil, so that it is not touching the cheese
- Place the baking tray in the middle shelf and bake for 30 minutes
- Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes to brown the cheese.
- Remove the baking tray from the over and let it rest for 10 minutes. This let’s the liquids settle and the lasagna will be easier to cut and serve
- Use a wide spatula and a knife to cut the lasagna into squares and serve
- Use any vegetables you have or you like. Even potato works well
- To turn this into a meat lasagna, add meat instead of the vegetables to the tomato sauce
- Traditionally a lasagna uses a béchamel sauce, which is a sauce of roux (toasted all purpose flour) and milk. I like the mozzarella cheese more.
Eat in good health!