Vegetarian Lasagna

Vegetarian Lasagna

Lasagna or Lasagne as it is known in Italy is one of the oldest Pastas. This flat sheet of pasta is cooked in alternate layers of pasta, sauce, and cheese. This is not a quick or easy dish to make but the taste and flavours make up for all the hard work. I learnt this vegetarian version while studying in the UK and improvised on it over time. This is my kind of Friday night dinner when friends come over and the dinner continues almost till Saturday morning.

The most common vegetarian lasagne I have seen is the one with spinach and white sauce. I use both white and red sauces. For the red sauce you can also include vegetables like zucchini or squash. You can grill the vegetables and chop them if you want to add a smokey flavour to the red sauce.

I like to keep the white sauce very simple. No cream, No butter, and No cheese. My idea is to get the flavour and taste from herbs. I use lots of fresh basil leaves.

Even with the layers of cheese, you can choose to just sprinkle the cheese instead of adding full layer every time. I use ricotta, cheddar, mozzarella, and Monterey Jack cheese. The grated cheese packets available in supermarkets can save a lot of time and money. They come in variety of cheese mixes like Italian pasta and Mexican flavours.

Choose a rectangle dish to bake pasta and cut the pasta sheets if required. You can make lasagne in advance and heat it up when required. Just like pav bhaji, pasta also tastes better the next day. Lasagna is a meal in itself and can be enjoyed as lunch or dinner.

Vegetarian Lasagna

Ingredients

Serves 5-6

  • 10 lasagna sheets
  • Cheese (cheddar, ricotta or cottage, mozzarella) as per taste

Red Sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 ½ tbsp. chopped garlic
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped mixed bell peppers
  • ½ cup chopped carrots
  • ½ cup broccoli florets steamed for 2 minutes
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • Salt as per taste

White Sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp all-purpose flour (maida)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tsp black pepper powder
  • Salt as per taste

Recipe

For the Red Sauce

Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan. Add chopped garlic and oregano. Cook for 1 minute. Add chopped onions and chilli flakes. Cook for 1-2 minutes or till the onions are translucent. Add carrots and bell peppers. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add tomato puree and salt and cook for 8-10 minutes mixing the sauce occasionally. Add broccoli and cook for 1 more minute and switch off the heat. Keep aside.

For White Sauce

Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan. Add the all-purpose flour and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Do not let the flour get brown. Add milk and mix well ensuring there are no lumps. One way is to switch off the heat, cool the sauce a little and blend it smooth using a hand blender. Put the sauce back on gas and add salt, pepper, and basil. Cook till the sauce thickens (approximately 2-3 minutes). Cover and keep aside.

Boil the lasagne sheets as per the instructions on the pack.

To Assemble the Lasagna

Take an oven proof dish. Spread a layer of red sauce. Cover it with lasagna sheets. Spread a layer of white sauce. Sprinkle some cheese or add a layer of cheese if you like cheese. Add a layer of lasagna sheets followed by layers of red sauce, lasagna sheets, white sauce, and cheese. Finish with a final layer of lasagna, red sauce, white sauce and cheese on the top.

Cover with an aluminium foil. Bake at 200 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 12-15 minutes or till the cheese is crusty and brown on the sides. Let it rest for 5-6 minutes before serving.

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