I have spent a lot of time during this lockdown watching Masterchef Australia and getting ideas and inspiration for recipes. Whilst a lot of it is meat based, I take every opportunity to take note of the occasional vegetarian food that they share. One of the recipes I had to try was Matt Preston’s Vegetarian Lasagne. This recipe combines the tanginess of a Tomato sauce with a Spinach Béchamel. The whole dish works so well together. I’ll admit, it has quite a lot of ingredients. However, the outcome is so worth it and delicious! I have modified the recipe slightly to use what I had in my pantry but I will state alternatives as I list the ingredients!
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Total cook time: 2 hours
For Tomato Sauce:
- 1 can Italian chopped tomatoes (You can also use a can of Passata instead)
- Assorted Vegetables (I have finely chopped the vegetables to keep some crunch but to make it quicker you can blend using a blender)
- 2 medium carrots
- 1½ celery sticks
- ½ onion (red or white, should not make a difference(
- 3 medium tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- Handful fresh basil and parsley (chopped) – If you do not have this, you can use a stock cube instead
- 2 garlic cloves (crushed)
- ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- Salt to taste
- 1½ tbsp olive oil
- Water as required
For Spinach Béchamel, Zucchini and Toppings:
- 6 Lasagne sheets (soaked in water for about 30 minutes) – I used the vegan Lasagne sheets. Make sure they are in water until you use them as they can stick)
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 120 ml milk
- 70 gms baby spinach
- 1 zucchini sliced half and then in 1cm strips
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 50 gms sliced mozzarella
- ¼ tsp nutmeg powder
- Salt and Pepper to taste
For Tomato Sauce
- In a non-stick pan, heat the olive oil.
- Add the chopped carrot, celery and onion and cook on medium heat, stirring for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften.
- Add the crushed garlic and cook for about 1 minute or until aromatic.
4. Next, add the can of chopped tomatoes, chopped fresh tomatoes, bay leaf, chopped basil and parsley, dried oregano, ground black pepper, salt and chilli flakes, about 50 ml of water and mix.
5. Let the sauce simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes to reduce and soften the vegetables. Whilst this is cooking, you can prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- In a separate non-stick pan, add ½ tbsp olive oil.
- Add half the zucchini strips and cook for 4-5 minutes on medium heat on each side or until they begin to char.
- Repeat the process for the remaining half zucchinis and keep aside.
For Spinach Béchamel
- Place the spinach and milk in a blender.
- Blitz until very smooth and the mixture is a deep green colour.
3. Melt the butter in another pan and add the plain flour to it.
4. Ensure that the heat is low. Add the spinach and milk mixture to the pan and mix to break any lumps.
5. Cook the mixture for about 15 minutes on low heat to thicken the sauce.
6. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper and keep aside.
To Assemble the Lasagne
- Pre-heat the oven at 180 degree celsius.
- In a 2.5 inch deep, 10 inch x 6 inch ovenproof dish, spread a layer of the tomato sauce at the base.
- Top with the lasagne sheets, trimming to fit.
- Top with half of the remaining tomato sauce and a few strips of the zucchini
5. Top with another layer of lasagne sheets.
6. Add the remaining tomato mixture, a few spoonfuls of the Béchamel and remaining zucchini over it.
7. Top with a final layer of lasagne sheets.
8. Spread Spinach Béchamel and any remaining Tomato sauce (if any – I ran out!) over the top.
9. Sprinkle with the grated cheddar and place the mozzarella strips on the top.
10. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the sides become golden and cheese has melted on the top.
Hope you enjoy this!