Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Vegetarian Lasagne

And so another meat-free Monday has passed, and another successful dinner was created - again approved by my meatavore husband who once, not so long ago, assured me that if a meal doesn't have meat it's not worth eating! So to get his approval on a vegetarian meal is definitely a sign of high praise indeed! So far, meat-free Monday has gone well, although I'm sure that we will hit a low one night soon...will keep you posted!

This Monday we had a yummy lasagne which was gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, and sugar-free made with sliced vegetables layered with a spicy tomato sauce, and topped with a 'white sauce' made from cauliflower and tahini.

You can choose any vegetables you fancy, or whatever is in the fridge (as I did!), so don't feel that you have to follow the recipe too closely.

Vegetarian Lasagne

Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free

2 zucchini, thinly sliced length ways
1 eggplant, sliced into 1cm rounds
1/2 a buttercup pumpkin, peeled and sliced into thin slices
2 cups spinach or silverbeet leaves
1 beetroot, peeled and thinly sliced
4 large portabello mushrooms, sliced

Tomato Sauce
1 tin of tomatoes (400g)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium onion, diced
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp chilli (more or less according to personal preference)
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp coconut oil

White Sauce
1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
juice of half a lemon
1 cup cauliflower puree (steam or boil about 1.5 cups cauliflower florets, and blitz until smooth)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Firstly prepare you vegetables. Get them all sliced and ready, then it is best if you pre-cook them a little. This saves time when cooking the dinner, but is not 100% necessary. You can just increase the total cooking time of the whole lasagne (by about double) if you choose not to pre-cook. Pre-cook them however you like - I steamed-baked them (I popped them on a wire rack in a baking dish with a few centimetres of water in the bottom, then covered the baking dish with foil and baked in a ot oven for about 15 minutes). You could also roast them with a little oil for a more roasted taste to the dish (more of those caramelised edges to create yummy flavours), or you could simply steam them on the stove top or even fry them.
2. If you haven't already used your oven to cook the vegetables, pre-heat your oven to 200C.
3. To make your tomato sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat on the stove and add the garlic and onions. Cook gently for a few minutes until softened. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, chilli, paprika. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes until sauce thickens and flavours are well developed. Remove from heat, and stir in parsley. Set aside.
4. To make your white sauce, combine the tahini, lemon juice, and cauliflower puree in a small blender or simply mix it the old fashioned way (by hand)! Season to taste.
5. To construct your lasagne, pop down a layer of tomato sauce in a baking dish, then layer the vegetables in any order you like, top with another layer of tomato sauce, then another layer of vegetables and finally top the dish with the white sauce.
6. Cover the dish with tin foil, then pop in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes (or 45 mins-1 hour if the vegetables are not pre-cooked), then remove foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes until top starts to brown a little. You may prefer to increase the heat or even change to the grill function at this point if you would like to increase browning.
7. Remove from oven and sprinkle with a little more finely chopped fresh parsley to garnish.

Serve with a green salad and maybe a little mashed potato or kumara, or a helping of quinoa or rice if that's more your thing. My salad was just a very simple little number made with rocket, broccoli, and avocado.