These pages may have been silent for a couple of weeks but it’s been far from silent in the Single Gourmet Traveller’s household. A temporary homemade food delivery service started up a week ago and pans with boeuf bourguignon, lamb tagine, shepherd’s pie and the occasional fruit crumble or bought dessert treat made their way from my kitchen to the new parents. Jonathan and Lyndsey’s baby boy arrived last Monday and it’s been a joy to welcome my beautiful grandson into the world.
When Nicola and Rachael arrived on Saturday, I decided to make a vegetable lasagna as Rachael is vegetarian. I wasn’t used to eating all that meat myself for days but hearty meals has been requested by the new dad. Then it turned out that they fancied a vegetable lasagna as well, so I made two.
I rarely venture away from a classic ragu filling when I make lasagna so making a vegetarian one presented a nice challenge. What could I put inside to make it interesting and tasty? And full of goodness? Of course, the combination of aubergines, courgettes and tomatoes is a classic one but I thought making layers with each vegetable distinctly separate would be a nice touch, rather than cook them all together into a vegetable stew. So, first of all, I sliced each vegetable and gently fried them in some olive oil to soften them before adding to the pasta layers. I also had some spinach in my fridge so a layer of that went in too (spinach is full of iron and excellent for the new mum!). I always like to soften lasagne sheets in a big bowl of boiling water for a couple of minutes, even when the packet says they don’t need pre-cooking. It also makes it easier to shape them into the dish you’re using. I then made a big pan – about 2 pints – of béchamel sauce. Once everything was ready, it was time to begin assembling it all. First of all, I put a layer of béchamel in the bottom of the two ovenproof dishes and topped them with a layer of spinach leaves.
Next, I put the first layer of lasagne sheets in. Then a layer of béchamel followed by a layer of aubergines topped with a layer of tomatoes. I added some seasoning and a sprinkling of dried thyme.
Then another layer of pasta with some béchamel. On top of this the slices of courgettes. On top of this I crumbled over some mozzarella. I’d bought a tub of baby mozzarella – bocconcini. I topped this with torn basil leaves and some more seasoning of salt and pepper.
Finally, a last layer of pasta. On top of the final layer of lasagne sheets I put a thick layer of béchamel and sprinkled over lots of freshly grated Parmesan.
I wanted a good cheesy flavour to the topping and also a nice crisp to it.
Into the oven it went: 200C/180 Fan for about 45 minutes or until nicely brown on top. The great thing about a dish like this is you can turn the oven down low and keep it hot for some time if you’re not quite ready to eat when it’s done.
It came out looking just as golden and delicious as I’d planned. Meanwhile, the second one had gone to the new family’s home to be cooked to their timing. Then a bottle of champagne was opened to welcome the new family member while the lasagna patiently waited.
We finally sat down and I opened a bottle of delicious Primitivo, one of my favourite Italian wines from Puglia. There was a big bowl of green salad to go with the lasagna too. And then we tucked in. Perfect comfort food with a touch of sophistication with those layers. And very delicious indeed.