As part of my family’s effort to eat less meat, I have been trying out all sorts of vegetarian and vegan meals. Not the easiest project however! Trying to make meals that are vegetarian / vegan which are also kid-friendly sends a bead or two of sweat down my forehead, far too regularly. It is a slow process but my mantra is consistency, balance, variety. Mostly plants but sometimes meat.
Let’s have a look at this mighty vegetarian lasagne. My Belgian neighbour made it for us for dinner one evening and I knew I had to make it and share it here with you too! The rich-tomato sauce and lasagna sheets are inter-layered with spinach and ricotta cheese, mascarpone and parmesan. Ooooh yummy – feel the salivation begin! It is not the quickest dish to make as the tomato sauce needs to simmer for at least an hour to develop the flavour, reduce the liquid and acidity of the tomatoes. But the flip side is that it is ridiculously delicious, in a tomato-parmesan-creamy-spinach kind of way.
This recipe was adapted from the French cooking website Marmiton.org – I followed my neighbours recommendation to increase the tomato sauce because lasagne dishes can tend to dry out. And dry lasagne is something we don’t want to be eating after spending an hour and a half making this pièce de résistance. Hell no.
When it comes to layering this baby. Layer as you wish although I did try and follow Marmitons instructions, only to change it up at the end. It’s called Creative rebellion. Get rebellious with the layering.
Also, I must mention that you can make this lasagne a day before. If you are having people around, enjoy popping the dish into the oven just before they arrive, whip up a salad with all the available greens from your organic veggie garden and voila, dinner is served without a fuss to mention.
Garnish with basil – it’s the final touch (from your herb garden of course!)
4 onions, diced
30ml olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons mixed herbs
1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
3 tins (400g each) crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup water
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 onions, diced
400g de-stemmed, chopped spinach
500g Ricotta Cheese
Salt and pepper
16 pieces lasagne
500g Mascarpone cheese, whipped
120g Parmesan, grated
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Method: Tomato-based sauce
- In a large pot, heat the oil and once hot, add the onions. Sauté until soft. Now add the garlic and mixed herbs and cook for another 2 minutes, being careful not to let the garlic burn.
- Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute or so.
- Add the tinned tomatoes, sugar, salt, water and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Allow to simmer on the stove top for an hour to an hour and a half to develop flavours and for the sharpness of the tomatoes to soften and sweeten.
- Set aside.
Method: Spinach Sauce
- In a medium to large frying pan, heat the oil and once hot, add the onions and allow to sauté until soft.
- In the meantime, steam the spinach in a double boiler until cooked (only takes a few minutes) or microwave in a covered container for 2-3 minutes. Drain the liquid and add to the onions. Add the ricotta cheese, salt and pepper to taste and mix through.
- Using a handheld blender, blend until the spinach and ricotta mixture is relatively smooth and spreadable.
Method: Layering Lasagne
- In a medium-sized lasagne dish or rectangular ovenproof dish, add a layer of the tomato sauce followed by half the Parmesan then a layer of lasagne.
- Add a layer of spinach sauce, topped with a third of the mascarpone and then another lasagne layer.
- Add another layer of spinach sauce and another third mascarpone and another layer of lasagne.
- Now add a thin layer of tomato sauce, a layer of lasagne and then the remaining tomato sauce and another third mascarpone. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan.
- Cook for 30-35 minutes at 180°C until the lasagne is soft and the top is beautifully golden.