I love nuts and incorporate them in many of my recipes, be they raw smoothies, salads, curries, burgers, pasta dishes, cakes and slices – you name it, and you’ll find them somewhere there. Few people don’t like lasagne – everybody makes it differently, and that’s what makes it such an interesting and versatile dish. Here I have pushed the boundaries to create a lasagne you will probably want to eat for the rest of your life. All I can say is it’s centre is moist, it’s topping is crunchy, it’s flavour is too tasty for words, and the texture is just delectable. Your taste buds will be filled with joyous gratitude as you tuck into this enormous feast of a dish – oh, and the aroma, the aroma will talk to you when you bring it out of the oven. State of the art Lasagne is in itself a work of art.
Serves 6 portions.
INGREDIENTS FOR LASAGNE
- 1 large eggplant, cut thinly lengthways and fried till golden brown on both sides, and set aside
- 2 medium zucchini, cut into slices lengthways, fried till golden and set aside
- 2 green or red peppers, cut lengthways and gently fried (for about 2 minutes – ensuring they remain al dente), and set aside
- 3 cups of the best mushrooms you can get hold of (I used lovely porcini frozen ones), fried and set aside (include the juices here)
- Around 6 sheets of dried lasagne (egg-free)
INGREDIENTS FOR TOMATO SAUCE
- olive oil for frying
- 2 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsps tomato puree
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- salt to taste
- 1 tsp agave nectar
INGREDIENTS FOR WHITE SAUCE
- 2 cups soya cream (or other dairy-free cream of your choice)
- ¼ cup of vegan milk of your choice
- 1 tbsp Parmazano grated vegan cheese or other vegan equivalent (optional) – or 1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes.
METHOD FOR THE WHITE SAUCE
Place all the ingredients together and mix well in readiness for placing on top of lasagne later on.
- 3-4 cups of vegan cheese of your choice – one that melts well – roughly grated or chopped into slices
- a handful of fresh basil leaves chopped
- ¾ – 1 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
Find an ovenproof dish that serves 6 portions – it must be fairly deep (the one I used was 2½ inches deep, 11 inches long & 7 inches wide).
METHOD FOR THE SAUCE
Having set aside your cooked veggies, heat the oil in a saucepan, and fry your garlic for less than half a minute. Then add the tomato puree, mix well for around 20 seconds, and pour in your first tin of tomatoes. Lower the heat, cover, and allow to cook for 10 minutes or so.
Add the remaining ingredients, and allow to cook uncovered for around 20-30 minutes, until the sauce evaporates a little, and you are left with a nice thick aromatic pulp. Then leave to cool for a few minutes.
METHOD FOR MAKING THE LASAGNE PRIOR TO BAKING
First grease your oven dish, then place your first layer of lasagne in the dish, making sure you cover all the base, even if it means breaking lasagne pieces to accommodate the shape of the base. Now layer the zucchini on top of the pasta. Sprinkle on 1 cup of the vegan cheese, and then add a layer of the eggplant, followed by a few spoonfuls of the tomato sauce. Place in a further layer of lasagne, add in all the mushrooms including their juices, layer the green peppers on top of them, and sprinkle on the next cup of vegan cheese.
Place in another layer of lasagne, add your final cup of vegan cheese, and spread on the remainder of your tomato sauce, with the fresh basil leaves on top of the sauce.
Finally spread the white sauce width-ways, making sure that, whilst you pour it, you leave a few half-inch gaps, so that the tomatoes are left peeping out.
Last but not least, sprinkle on your raw almonds, and place in a very hot oven (around 200c), and allow to cook gently for just under an hour, depending on your oven type.
Bring it out after half an hour, and using a sharp pointed utensil pierce a few holes randomly on the surface, in order to allow the dish to breathe, and distribute its juices. Place in the oven again, and allow to cook for a further 20-30 minutes.
Whatever you do, do NOT serve immediately, this will need at least 30 minutes to cool down, otherwise it will not cut well or serve well. So if you want to do something useful in the meantime, cut up a crisp green salad to complement this filling and delicious lasagne.
Bon Appétit !
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