Mushroom, brinjal, lentil, pea and fresh basil lasagna

Veg lasagna used to be one of the only veg meals you could find on most restaurant menus. It has always been the go-to safe option for meat eaters cooking for vegetarians. Often soggy and tasteless. A good lasagna can be amazing though. My vegetarian cousin has been visiting from Germany and made a really delicious lasagna and it got me thinking… I realised I have not made a lasagna in over 10 years. Luckily this realisation came at the same time as lasagna sheets being on special at Fruit & Veg City. Instead of getting too fancy, I decided to use cheap and readily available ingredients (and that was all I had in the fridge…).

Lasagna Ingredients:

  • 1 brinjal
  • 1 punnet of mushrooms
  • 1 onion
  • 2 red chillies
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 1 sachet of tomato paste
  • juice of half a lemon
  • oreganum
  • 1 tin of lentils
  • 1 cup of peas
  • handful of fresh basil
  • lasagna sheets

White sauce ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablsepoons flour or maizena
  • Milk
  • Grated cheese (we use uncoloured cheddar)
  • Mustard powder

For brinjal layer: Slice the brinjal and roast in the oven with olive oil and salt until browned and soft.

For mushroom layer: Wash and slice the mushrooms. Fry in butter with white and black pepper, and a dash of wine if you have some lying around. If I had more cash, or it was cheap mushroom season, normal button mushrooms could be replaced with shmancy mushrooms.

For spicy tomato and lentil sauce layer: Finely dice the onion, slice the chillies and finely chop or crush the garlic. Fry the onions until they are glassy and golden. Add the chillies and the garlic. When the garlic softens, add the tin of tomatoes. Add the tomato paste and the juice of half a lemon. I still have the most amazing dried oreganum from Cyprus, but other fresh herbs are also delicious. I would have used fresh rosemary if I didn’t have the oreganum. Add a dash of balsamic and salt and pepper to taste. Drain the lentils and add. Let the sauce cook together and reduce slightly.

For the pea and basil layer: I only had frozen peas which I defrosted in some boiling water and then drained. I then picked a generous handful of fresh basil from the garden. I am very pleased that the basil seems to be fighting the wind and the bugs.

For the white sauce layer: I would make the sauce however you feel comfortable. I asked the captain to make quite a thick sauce so it wouldn’t leak through the whole lasagna. In case you are not sure how to make one of these sauces, this is the way I think he made it… Melt the butter and mixed through the maizena to make a rue. Slowly add the milk and allow it to thicken on a low heat. Once it is ready, add mustard powder, salt and pepper, and melt a handful of cheese. Grate extra cheese for the top.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. While the oven is heating, start layering the lasagna:

  1. tomato sauce
  2. lasagna sheets
  3. tomato sauce
  4. mushrooms
  5. pasta sheets
  6. tomato sauce
  7. basil and peas
  8. pasta sheets
  9. last of tomato sauce
  10. brinjal
  11. white sauce
  12. cheese

Bake in the oven until the cheese is browned and the pasta is soft. It was actually a lot quicker than I thought it would be. I was very surprised that the lasagna retained its form when sliced and you could taste the different flavours in the layers.

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