This vegetarian lasagne is time-consuming, and I made a huge mess in the kitchen. But it was capital T-Tasty. (Thanks Anjali!)
Note: It may be meatless, but it is not vegan. It contains cheese and a white sauce made from butter, flour and milk. One day, I will attempt a vegan version. (One day is a very busy day indeed.)
Assembling this lasagne requires 1) roasting vegetables, 2) frying up a tofu bolognaise and 3) making white sauce.
1. Roasted Vegetables
– 1 zucchini (smallish/medium)
– 1 Australian golden sweet potato (smallish/medium)
– 1 wedge Australian Japanese-style pumpkin (smallish/medium)
– 3 capsicums (yellow and red, small)
– Garlic, about 2 cloves, sliced thinly
(You can also roast mushrooms and eggplant/aubergine)
I sliced the vegetables up thinly, dumped the veg and garlic into a bowl, coated them in olive oil, coarse black pepper, salt and raw sugar. I used my hands to rub the oil all over the vegetables, laid them out onto an oven tray, and placed them into a preheated oven (around 160C). Our oven, however, is a little wonky, so the vegetables started to burn a little at the edges and I had to turn the heat down and eventually just switched it off and left the vegetables in there to continue cooking!
While the vegetables were roasting, I made the tofu bolognaise.
2. Tofu Bolognaise
– 2 squares of firm tofu (tau kwa), 400g pack
– 2 leeks, sliced finely (mostly the white part)
– Garlic, about 3 cloves, minced finely
– 1 skinny carrot, grated
– 1 jar Prego’s Traditional pasta sauce (680g jar)
– 1 tin Hunt’s diced tomatoes (411g tin)
– Seasoning: garlic salt, dried Italian herbs, pepper
– Olive oil for frying
Use paper towels to pat the tofu dry and squeeze out any liquid. Leave it to dry for a bit. Mash the tofu up in a bowl, and season with garlic salt, pepper and Italian herbs. My friend, Anjali, who taught me this recipe, says it is essential to season tofu well or it will be “very blah”.
Heat up some olive oil in a pan (I used a wok), and fry the leeks and garlic till the leeks are soft and see-through. Throw in the grated carrots and fry for a bit. Add the mashed-up tofu and fry till it becomes a dry-ish mix. (Do a taste test too – I had to add more salt!) When that’s done, throw in the pasta sauce and diced tomatoes and let the mix simmer. Once this was done, I started on the white sauce.
3. White sauce
The original recipe, from BBC’s Good Food magazine, was for 1 litre of white sauce (which can be kept in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for 3 months).
To make 1 litre, you need:
– 85g/3 oz butter
– 85g/3 oz plain flour
– 750ml milk
Melt butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour, and cook for 2 minutes (well, that’s what the magazine says, but who’s counting?). Slowly whisk in the milk, and bring to the boil, stirring. Turn down the heat, cook until the sauce starts to thicken and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
I actually halved the amounts for this lasagne, and still had too much! (Perhaps I was a tad too stingy with the sauce? Anyway, I might reduce the portion to just 1/3 next time.)
Assembling the Lasagne
Besides the ingredients listed above, I also needed lasagne sheets (instant), grape/cherry tomatoes (about 10), and cheese (a 200g bag of mozzarella, plus some cheddar and parmesan, which I already had in the fridge and just grated; otherwise there are mixed bags of mozzarella, cheddar and parmesan you can buy).
I used a glass baking dish that was approximately 10 inches wide and 3 inches deep. This allowed 3 layers. Here’s how I layered:
Roasted vegetables > Tofu bolognaise > Lasagna sheets > White sauce > Cheese (mozarella, cheddar and parmesean), and AGAIN! I had three layers, and for the very last top layer, I scattered about 10 half-cut grape tomatoes.
The Final Stage
I baked the lasagne in a preheated oven for about 45 minutes (actually, I lost track of time, heh). The temperature was meant to be around 180/160C but our oven overheats so I had to lower it. For the first half hour or so, I covered it with aluminium foil, then took the foil off the last 10 minutes (or thereabouts). The BBC Good Food mag says the lasagne should be “bubbling and golden”, but I think ours was more sizzling and browned.
Four adults shared the lasagne, and there was one smallish slice leftover (not quite enough for another hungry adult).
The roasted vegetables were just the right amount, but there was enough tofu bolognaise left over for another meal. I also fed some to Matt, mashed up with some of the roasted vegetables, and poured over pasta stars. It was a hit!