Garfield probably wouldn’t approve this message. But we do.
For any carb-lovers, dinnertime signals the stomach’s call for pasta. And if you’re a true devotee of Italian cuisine then it doesn’t get more cosy and comforting than lasagna. With luscious layers, tart tomatoes and rich creamy bechamel, there’s very little wrong with lasagna. The only catch is that Lasagna isn’t technically Italian at all.
Originating in Ancient Greece, the name Lasagna is derived from the Greek word Laganon, the first known form of pasta. Though it didn’t look at all like the Lasagna as we know it today it was composed of layers of “pasta” and sauce and the name itself referred more to the method of cooking than the dish itself. Many countries have claimed Lasagna as their creation and in the 1390s researchers discovered a British cookbook with a recipe that solidified their claim as the first documented version of the dish. That being said, Italy is the place where the layering, sauces and assembly were perfected into the dish we know today.
Why is this relevant? Because we want to placate everyone with the knowledge that Lasagna is a dish with many versions and interpretations before we make our next suggestion. Lentil Lasagna. Purists are already clicking away but the truth is, Lasagna isn’t the most vegan-friendly of meals. Plus, between the pasta, the mince, cheese and the bechamel, it can end up being a heavy and sometimes stodgy dish. But by replacing the meat with lentils, you can create a slightly healthier iteration of this beloved dish that’s suitable for all your guests…except the vegans.
For the lentil ragù
Knob of butter, for greasing and frying
200 gms Puy lentils
1 vegetable stock cube
1 tbsp olive oil, or olive oil, for frying
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
110g mushrooms, finely diced
110 gms leek, finely sliced
400 gms can chopped tomatoes
Salt and Pepper to taste
6-9 sheets of lasagne
Handful grated Parmesan
For the cheese sauce
110 gms butter
85 gms plain flour
850 ml pints milk
6 tbsp double cream
110 gms grated cheddar
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C. Generously grease a baking dish with butter.
For the lentil ragù, cover the lentils with cold water and bring to a boil. Crumble in the vegetable stock cube and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender, then drain. Add a little more water if the mixture looks dry.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a lidded frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms and leek and fry for about five minutes, or until softened.
Stir in the cooked lentils and simmer gently for five minutes, then stir in the tomatoes. Cover with a lid and simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes. Season, to taste, with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Meanwhile, for the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat then mix in the flour and stir until bubbling. Gradually add the milk and cream, whisking constantly, until the mixture is smooth.
Simmer gently, stirring constantly, until the sauce starts to thicken, then stir in the cheese and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and remove from heat.
To assemble the lasagne, spread a quarter of the lentil ragù over the base of the greased baking dish, cover this with a quarter of the cheese sauce, and then arrange a third of the lasagne sheets over the top. Repeat, finishing with a layer of cheese sauce. Sprinkle over the parmesan cheese and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbling and golden brown.
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