I had a very busy weekend, my dad’s 60th birthday party on the Saturday, with the necessary 4 hours of driving, and then I volunteered for TEDx Women on the Sunday for 5 hours which left me exhausted. So no cooking. I then stressed about what to write up, did I put up an excuse about not cooking because I was tired, and then tell a story about lightning strikes (even nature celebrated my father’s 60th), or something else. Then the lovely Scott-monster, suggested that I put up this recipe sent to me by a dear friend that is OMG so awesome. I have made some minor modifications because one of the people who lives here has a capsicum intolerance. I will include both options so you can decide what you want to do.
You will need a DEEP dish to cook this in – there are lots of layers.
Vegies: 1 large eggplant cut into 1/2 cm thick slices
a couple of big handfuls of baby spinach leaves
approx 100g sundried tomatoes – I often use more cause I like them.
3 large red capsicum, quartered, deveined and deseeded
OR 1 tin of artichoke hearts thinly sliced
Tomato Sauce: 1/4 cup olive oil
two onions, diced
three cloves garlic, chopped – garlic is to taste, really
1 cup fresh basil, chopped – I have used dried without spoiling it
2 tsp dried oregano
6 cups tomato puree – this equals two big tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp raw/brown sugar
2 tblsp tomato paste
Bechamel Sauce: 125g butter
1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup plain flour
1 litre warmed milk
Cheese: you want a total of about six cups of grated cheese, mixed mozzarella, cheddar and parmesan. I have found that the shredded pizza mix from the supermarket is perfect.
500g lasagne sheets – you don’t want to use fresh pasta sheets for this one
Capsicum (if using): Put capsicum slices skin side up under a hot grill. Grill for 10 mins or until blackened. When done, put them in a plastic bag and seal it shut. when they are cool, peel the blackened skin off and set them aside. Because these take longer, I usually do them first.
Eggplant: spray both sides of slices with olive oil and place on a tray under a hot grill. turn after a few minutes, or when slices are tender and starting to bown. Set aside.
PREPARE TOMATO SAUCE
Warm olive oil in pan, add onions and garlic, cook until soft. Add basil and oregano, saute for 30 seconds to a minute. Pour in tomato puree, stir, and bring to the boil. Add salt, black pepper, sugar and tomato paste, and reduce heat. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes or until it thickens a bit.
PREPARE BECHAMEL SAUCE
Melt the butter over low heat. Stir in nutmeg, black pepper, and flour. Saute, stirring constantly, for half a minute or until the mixture loosens. Remove from heat, and gradually pour in the warm milk, stirring with a whisk until the sauce is smooth. Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring. Reduce heat and simmer 5 mins, stirring constantly, until sauce has a custard consistency.
1. Combine the cheeses. Divide the cheese into 3 portions, tomato sauce into 3 portions, bechamel into four portions. These portions for me are always quite rough, and I tend to divide as I go rather than fiddling around dividing it all up before I start.
2. Spread one portion tomato sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish. Add a layer of lasagne sheets, then eggplant slices. Spread on a portion of bechamel, then another of the pasta. Sprinkle with portion of shredded cheese.
3. Continue layering as follows: tomato sauce, sundried tomatoes, capsicum/artichoke hearts, pasta, bechamel, pasta, cheese, spinach leaves.
4. Add remaining tomato sauce, then pasta sheets, then double portion of bechamel sauce. sprinkle top with remaining cheese.
5. Place in preheated 200C/390F oven, cook for 45-60 minutes. The cheese tends to darken before the lasagne is done, so check it half way through and put foil over the top for the remainder of the cooking time. When it is done, leave the lasagne in the (turned off) oven with the door ajar for thirty minutes.
Notes on this recipe:
- You can actually add meat to this recipe and cook it with the tomato sauce if you don’t want to go full vegie. If adding meat use 500g of mince meat (chicken, beef or pork will work) and add to the tomato sauce after frying the onions and garlic but before adding the basil.