Thursday, 24 May 2012

Easy vegetarian lasagne (some assembly required)

A few days ago I was thinking about dinner and hadn't planned anything, but our garden's producing copious amounts of silverbeet at the moment, and I realised with that and a few other ingredients I conveniently had around, I had the making of a lasagne. And it turned out blimmin' delicious (in my own humble opinion). Anywho, I thought I'd share.

I'm a vegetarian, which is why I made it vegetarian, but I also think mince overpowers tomato-ey dishes (ie. mexican, spaghetti bolognese, lasagne) and that it tastes better without. So meat eaters should give this a go too.


For the tomato sauce:
  • two cans chopped tomatoes in juice
  • 5 cloves of garlic (suit to your taste)
  • a splash of vinegar (I wish I had a less vague measurement to give you but a splash is how much I put in all my tomato dishes)
  • a dash of red wine (any will do, and this is another one of those measurements - you don't want too much or it overpowers the sauce, but it adds depth like no one's business)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • plenty of salt - to taste (I was using rocket in the lasagne so I didn't pepper it, I'll leave that up to your excellent discretion)
  • some olive oil
(By the way, cook the above recipe for an hour or two and you've got yourself a lovely rich pasta sauce, just add fettucine and some cheese)

Other stuff:
  • 250g pasta bows (this is what I used and it turned out great and is a lot less fussy than sheets, but again, up to you)
  • 5 leaves of silverbeet (of course you can use less or more, or substitute with spinach if you like, etc.)
  • a bit of rocket and italian parsley (but you can add any herbs you like, oregano might be nice for example)
  • 250g tub of cottage cheese (I know ricotta is more traditional but I had cottage cheese on hand)
  • some tougher cheese to crisp up on top - probably parmesan is the way to go, but I'm a poor student so I went for colby, and it was terrific :)
  1. Get a big pot heating up for the pasta, make sure you salt it well, I think it's amazing how much better the pasta tastes when you've put a good tablespoon of salt in there, or more!) Chuck in your pasta when it starts boiling. Make sure you keep an eye on it and drain it and cool it with some cold water when it's tender but still has some bite (just eat some to check - should be around 10 mins).
  2. Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a new saucepan. Keep this cooking (stir occasionally) while you prepare the rest of the food. 
  3. Cut up your silverbeet into thin strips (don't need to be fussy, just so that it can be sprinkled into layers. Cut up your rocket, parsley, or other herbs.
  4. It's time to layer. I used a deep small casserole dish. So, now put half the silverbeet in the bottom of your baking dish, then some dollops of cottage cheese (about a quarter of the tub), then some tomato (about a third) and some rocket and parsley, then half of the pasta. Repeat those layers once more. On the top goes the rest of the tomato mix, then the rest of the cottage cheese (so there's a nice thick cheesey layer on the top, yum!) the rest of the herbs, and a smattering of other harder cheese to get crispy in the oven.
Now it should look like this:

Yum. Put it in the oven at medium heat until the cheese on top is golden. There's no set time, especially because everything is already cooked. You could grill it if you wanted to, but baking it for 20 minutes or so lets all the flavours meld together.

So the final product:

It doesn't look that flash on the plate, but it tastes pretty flash.
Enjoy!! I did.

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