Hello good people! I hope you are all having a good summer despite the scant supply of good weather!
Today we will be making a vegan lasagne – but not the traditional lasagne. The “mince” will be minced veggies, and the pasta will be sliced veggies, and the sauce will be blitzed veggies!
One of my favourite things about the summer, good weather or not, is the abundance of Irish grown vegetables in the shops and at the farmer’s markets. My favourite source for veggies is Ballyholey Farm, a local, family run, pesticide-free, spray-free, everything-free farm. They grow and abundance of amazing vegetables out there (15 minutes from my house..!!) from old favourites like kale, turnip and spuds, to more unusual produce like different coloured cauliflowers, an array of peas and beans, and even courgettes and aubergines, which I thought were Mediterranean! Every week I’m shocked at what they have for sale wondering is it really grown out in a field in Raphoe or did it come straight from southern Italy…luckily I’ve been out to the farm and they actually have it all! Amazing stuff.
Every vegetable ingredient in this recipe (except the garlic) came from Ballyholey Farm. Isn’t that amazing! If you’re going to make this try to find out if you have any farmers markets nearby and try to source as local as possible. Now is the best time!
Also, if you would prefer the traditional lasagne sheets, use them by all means! I just wanted to have as many veggies as possible so I substituted thinly sliced courgette and aubergine for the lasagne sheets, but that’s not essential.
You will need:
- 1 large medium courgette
- 1 aubergine
- 1 large cauliflower
- 2 onions
- 8-10 stalks of rainbow chard
- 3 carrots
- 3 large flat cap mushrooms (or equivalent)
- 2-3 stalks of celery
- 1 garlic clove
- Dried thyme
- Dried oregano
- 1 lemon
- Sea Salt
- 2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
- 2-3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp gluten-free flour (or normal if you are not coeliac)
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1.5 tsp tamari
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 80ml unsweetened plant-based milk
For the layers:
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
- Using a mandolin cut the aubergine and courgette length-ways into thin 0.5cm slices. If you don’t have a mandolin use a very good knife. You might make a mess of it like I did, but it’s OK, it will still work.
- Put the aubergine slices on a sheet of kitchen paper on a plate and sprinkle salt over both sides. Leave it to the side. This draws out the moisture and stops it from going mushy when cooked, and it enhances the flavour.
- Lay the courgette slices on a non-stick mat on a baking tray (or whatever way you want to stop them from sticking) and sprinkle with fresh lemon juice and dried thyme. Leave to one side.
- Remove the leaves from the rainbow chard stems and leave them to one side ready for layering.
- After about 10-15 minutes use a clean sheet of kitchen paper to soak off the moisture from the aubergines. They lay them on the baking tray with the courgettes and sprinkle with lemon juice and thyme.
- Cook in the oven for around 10-15 minutes. You don’t want them to be so cooked that they turn golden brown and gooey, just softened, so keep an eye on them. You need them to be able to hold their shape.
- When cooked take them out and leave to cool while you prepare the rest of the lasagna.
For the filling:
- Finely dice the onions, carrots, celery and chard stems.
- Chop the mushrooms into thicker slices to give the veg mix a bit of texture.
- Heat some red wine vinegar in a hot pan.
- Fry off the onion in the vinegar until soft, then add the garlic and celery.
- Fry until soft and then add in the flour and 1 tbsp each of oregano and thyme.
- Add more liquid as you need it to stop the veg from sticking(either more red wine vinegar or balsamic or water depending on how strong you want the vinegar flavour to be).
- Finally add in the diced chard stems and the sliced mushrooms and stir until the mushrooms have started to cook through.
- Add in the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree and 1-2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar and stir through.
- Let the mixture simmer for another 10 minutes or so. Taste the mix and add in more herbs or balsamic vinegar if you think it needs it.
For the bechamel sauce:
- Chop up the cauliflower into small florets and put them on to steam (or boil).
- When cooked through add them to a blender with the milk, Dijon mustard, tamari, nutritional yeast and 2 tsp of thyme.
- Blend until smooth – very smooth! If you want it thinner you can add more milk.
Now to assemble:
- Start by spooning some of the veg mix into a square lasagne dish. Smooth it into a thin layer about an inch thick.
- Cover it with a layer of chard leaves.
- Then add the layer of aubergine and courgette. These are supposed to be like the pasta sheets so try to make sure they are evenly dispersed. You might need to overlap them in places where they might not fit properly – or you could cut them to size. Leave enough for the next layer!
- Then pour over your cauliflower bechamel sauce.
- Sprinkle some nutritional yeast over the top.
- Bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, until it’s bubbling and going golden on top.
- You can eat it straightaway but as with a normal lasagne it’s always better than 2nd day! So maybe just prepare this a day in advance. It would only need to be heated up the second day so put in oven until hot and then enjoy!