This happened last night, and I have to say it exceeded all my expectations.. and I’m a bit of a fuss-pot when it comes to food and drink, just ask anyone who knows me!
I’m the kind of person who would rather NOT make a Lasagne than resort to sauces from a jar; well they just taste so synthetic compared to the real thing don’t they, why bother? Much more economical to make your own too.
I do realise some people prioritise differently, and a ready made sauce is still better than a microwave meal, but I would rather eat beans on toast than cheat at Lasagne, that’s just me.
I know it’s a faff; what with 3 pans, 2 sauces, veg to roast etc etc, but trust me it IS worth the effort. You really do earn bragging rights here, so just go ahead and invite friends around to showcase your achievement! 💖
To make life a bit easier you could make the Veganese and roast the veg one evening then make the Bechamel and put it all together the next like I did.
So.. how would the meat-free version hold up?
Well I was encouraged by the success of the Veganese and thought it would provide a good base for a Lasagne, and I was right. Add in some inspirational genius from the fabulous ‘Bosh‘ Boys; Aubergine, Butternut Squash and some Balsamic.. amazing!
Gotta love Henry and Ian; if you haven’t already DO get one of their fabulous cook books. I have ‘Bosh!’ and ‘Bosh Healthy Vegan’ both excellent.
Here’s what I used for a whopping 8 portion dinner party/ family sized recipe made in a 35cm x 25cm x 5cm deep baking tin.
Veganese recipe x 2 (see previous blog)
1 large Butternut Squash,
2 large Aubergines
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tsp Smoked Paprika or Chilli powder
2-3 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Vegan Bechamel Sauce:
60g Plain Flour
50g Nutritional Yeast
3 tsp Onion salt. Do do do get this, it is SO worth the superb bechamel flavour it makes with the yeast 😋
1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
900mls - 1 litre unsweetened Almond milk
Freshly ground salt and black pepper
2 x 200g Bags Washed Spinach wilted gently in a pan with tbsp butter
Lasagne sheets to make 3 layers.
I used 6 per layer, breaking up 1 to fill any gaps!
Make the Veganese sauce.
Preheat your oven to 200c
Peel the Butternut and slice into round 1cm thick slices. Remove the seeds.
Slice the Aubergine into round 1cm thick slices.
Place the Butternut and Aubergine into a large bowl and pour over the Olive oil, rub in well. Add the Paprika or Chilli and rub all over.
Line 2 large baking trays with non-stick parchment and place Squash and Aubergine slices on them, separately if you can. Don’t worry if they have to overlap a bit.
Put the trays of veg in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes. Check after 30 minutes that nothing is browning too much, just turn those slices over if necessary.
Once removed and cooled a little, drizzle over the Balsamic vinegar. Sounds odd perhaps, but when cooking without meat, you just need something that gives you that satisfying Umami flavour that browned meat provides.
Whilst the veg is cooking you can make the sauce. Now for those of you who perhaps have never made a sauce before, please don’t fret, it’s not difficult and you’re not going to fail, just follow the simple guidelines and you’ll never go back to opening a jar again.. promise!
Place the butter in a large heavy based saucepan (SAUCEpan!) on a gentle heat on the stove. Whilst that is melting warm up your milk and pour into a jug you can easily pour from. This just makes it easier to blend into the roux; that is the butter/flour mix.
When all the butter is liquid, add the flour and stir in well, you should have a nice thick paste that is ‘stirable’!
Now turn up the heat a little, and gradually start to add the warm milk, not adding any more until each addition is blended with the roux and is lump-free. You have to quite vigorously stir, this is why a heavy based pan helps; stops it flying across the room as you get physical with it!
When most of the milk ia incorporated, add the onion salt and the nutritional yeast. The sauce will thicken again, stir well then add the remainder of the milk. Your sauce should be a nice thick shiny consistency that resembles that of anything you’ve seen pour out of a jar... but tastes sooo much nicer. Add salt and pepper if needed.
Gently simmer a little while. If you feel your sauce is too thin, it can be rescued by whisking in a little more Roux; just melt a bit more butter and stir in enough flour to make the same paste you made before. If you think the sauce has thickened too much, simply add more milk.
So now you have your layers ready to go;
Roast Veg... ✅
Wilted Spinach. ✅
Lasagne sheets... ✅
Now you can start having some fun! This is where I usually go as-hoc.. mainly because I can never remember which way they should be layered! All you need to make sure if is that:
1. Your Lasagne dish/tin is well greased
2. You finish with a layer of Bechamel
3. You have ‘wet’ ingredients next to the pasta sheets.
So this is how mine went ...
Cover the base in Veganese
Cover with a layer of Lasagne sheets
Pour over 1/3 of the Bechamel.
Follow with the layer of Aubergine, then squash.
Pour another 1/3 of the Bechamel.
Lasagne sheet layer no’ 2
Lay the spinach on top of the Veganese
Final layer of Lasagne sheets
Finish off with remaining 1/3 of the Bechamel sauce.
Place your dish in the oven at 180c and bake for 45-50 minutes. Serve with love, pride and a large green salad. If you’re not vegan you could top with some grated cheese. I added a little vegan cheese to serve. 💖
Hope you enjoy this and that you have someone to do the washing up! 😬