Everyone loves lasagne don’t they? Even the most dedicated of meat eaters might just tuck into a vegetarian dinner if it happened to be lasagne?. I make this quite often as the kids like it about as much as we do, and it’s much quicker to put together than a bolognese one. Plus it’s a fab way to use up the excess veggies that always seem to be lingering. You can add pretty much any veggies you want; once they’re roasted and covered in cheesy pasta layers they all taste pretty damned fab (and I’m sure your kids will agree). I used in mine a possibly odd combination of red peppers, mushrooms, celery, french beans, aubergine, baby beetroot, carrots and a little swiss chard (the latter I added raw, finely chopped), but it worked very nicely! A handful or two of cherry tomatoes work particularly well if you have them, as do courgettes, squash, pumpkin, mushrooms, spinach (no need to roast)…..the list could go on and on, but just chuck it in!
I tend to add quite a few fresh herbs to my lasagne as I grow them in abundance. If you don’t have them to hand, don’t go to the trouble and expense of buying any especially to make this as it can manage without. I either roast my veggies with lots of fresh thyme, or as I did today added a large handful of chopped parsley and basil to the veggies once they were roasted. I also used Grana Padano rather than it’s more expensive cousin Parmesan. When making cheese sauces I always add a little english mustard. It somehow managed to eek out a stronger cheesier flavour, but it’s not essential and again if you don’t have it to hand don’t worry.
Serves 4 – 6
a red onion, roughly diced
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
750 g of mixed veg, cut into a rough 1cm dice
a handful of black olives – roughly chopped (omit if you’re cooking for kids who really don’t like them)
a handful each of fresh parsley and basil – roughly chopped (optional)
salt & pepper
40g plain flour
50g Parmesan or Grana Padano, plus extra for the topping
½ tsp of english mustard (optional)
220g dried lasagne sheets – normal or green
2 balls of Mozzarella, thinly sliced
Preheat your oven to 220°C/Gas Mark 7. Place your veggies, onion and garlic on a large baking sheet or tray, and combine with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, a generous grinding of black pepper and a little salt. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes (turning at least once) until the veggies are all cooked through and starting to brown a little. Once roasted turn down the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.
Meanwhile make your sauce. Place the butter in a large saucepan and heat over a very gentle heat until melted. With the pan still on a little heat add the flour and stir quickly and vigorously with a wooden spoon or a balloon whisk until combined. Add a little milk and continue to stir or whisk vigorously, continue to add the milk in this way until you have incorporated it all. Don’t worry if you have a few lumps at this stage, they’ll eventually go. Continue to stir or whisk the sauce constantly over a gentle heat until it is fully thickened and starting to simmer, this will take a few minutes. When simmering, take the pan off the heat and stir in the mustard (if using) and Parmesan or Grana Padano.
Now you’re all ready to assemble. Into a large ovenproof dish add about a third of your veggies and about a third of the olives and a generous sprinkling of basil and parsley (if you’re using). Layer the lasagne sheets on top and spread a third of the cheese sauce over plus a third of the Mozzarella slices.
Continue with another couple of these layers until you’ve used all your ingredients up, and you’ve finished with a thick layer of cheese sauce and plenty of Mozzarella. Now add a fine layer of grated Parmesan to finish.
Place the dish in your preheated oven for about 30 to 40 minutes until the lasagne is cooked through and the cheesy layer on the top is nicely browned.