Lasagna alla Vegetariana

Recipe Inspiration: A homemade variation of a new favourite
Blog: Anita with Renée

Hi there Clubbers!

I’m stating the obvious here, but hasn’t it been HOT! I don’t know about you, but when it’s this hot all I want to do is sip cocktails and sit by a pool… I can dream right? – HA! Would you believe that my kids are already a little over the bbqs that have become a regular feature on the weekly meal planner? My reasoning for it’s regularity is that, it’s a “healthy meal option.” But if I’m being honest, it’s because I just don’t have the energy to plan and cook. One of the best parts about bbqs is that it is a shared effort. Hubby goes outside with the kids to cook, dinner is done in a flash and there are no pots and pans to clean up. Alas, that all came to an abrupt end when my eldest son proclaimed loudly, that he would not be eating any more bbqs for the next 20 years… and he’s 8! This recipe idea literally couldn’t have come at a better time.

When Renée and I catch up, recipes are always a topic of discussion. For our next GR Club recipe we were both happy to present a “veggie forward” dish. GR’s vegetarian lasagna has become increasingly popular lately; even being described as layers of silk. We think the change in season has most customers wanting to switch traditional favourites for lighter flavours. To create a variation of the vegetarian lasagna, I used GR’s silky pasta sheets – sfoglie. I have been wanting to try a Summer lasagna for ages, so this was the perfect opportunity. I also had a heap of extra fresh veggies that I needed to use in my fridge, so again, this recipe was working out to be ideal.

Prolonged exposure to these sweltering summer temperatures can leave you feeling drowsy and lethargic. It’s no wonder then that Summer fatigue seems to be the consensus for most of our GR customers. Summer veggies such as tomato, cucumber and eggplant can actually help you feel less tired by boosting your antioxidant levels. While eggplant features in the lasagna, tomato and cucumber can be added to a super, green crunch salad with garden veggies and basil. Serve natural hydraters such as watermelon and pears for dessert. Or, try citrus fruits, strawberries, raspberries and cranberries which are rich in potassium and magnesium, to help you recover from exhaustion with a much needed energy boost.

Now when it came to the sauce, I wanted to try something a little different. I wanted to make a white sauce, wait for it… that wasn’t a béchamel sauce. Unfortunately, my house is divided when it comes to béchamel. And when I say divided, I mean, me on one side and my husband and kids on the other. And so was born my fresh, grilled vegetable lasagna in bianco. I can hear you all asking, “But what do use instead to keep it from drying out?” I hear you clubbers. It was a gamble but it worked so well. The answer is… a delicate veloute. Now, if you’re a regular follower, you might remember that we have a veloute recipe in our library. We paired a citrus veloute with fresh linguine, salmon and fennel. I remembered that I had frozen a portion. The result? Not only did my husband love it but so did both my boys! WIN, WIN, WIN!

A few really important tips for making an excellent lasagna. Always use fresh lasagna sheets – these taste the best. It is vital that you par cook these prior to assembling your lasagna. Secondly, don’t forget the sauce. Please use the sauce liberally – this is what will keep your lasagna from becoming dry.

This recipe will be a fantastic addition to your Christmas table and end-of-year get-togethers for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. This optimal primo piatto can be made in advance and slightly warmed just before serving. Full of flavour and yet satisfyingly light, it is colourful, appetizing and perfect for a Summer’s night.

On behalf of myself, Renée and the GR family, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year. May 2020 bring you all love, happiness, good health and good food!

Ciao for now and buon appetito,

Anita, Renée & the GR Team

Ingredients

  • 6 sheets (approx 500g) of GR pasta sheets
  • One large eggplant, thinly sliced
  • One large zucchini, thinly sliced
  • One large sweet potato, thinly sliced
  • One large leek, thinly sliced
  • 250g of bag baby spinach
  • 250g of fresh ricotta
  • One large fresh mozzarella ball
  • Pecorino cheese, grated
  • Some salt and dried oregano

Method

  • Begin the recipe by slicing the eggplant - ensure the slices are very thin (approx. 5cm thick or thinner if possible). Set these aside on a baking tray and sprinkle with salt - you will need to leave these to sweat while cutting the remainder of the vegetables.
  • Next, slice the zucchini to the same thickness as the eggplant and set aside. Repeat this process with the sweet potato - you will need to cut the sweet potato as thin as you possibly can to ensure it cooks properly. Chop the leek in half and finely slice.
  • Place some olive oil in a griddle pan and saute the leek. Let it char a little but be careful not to burn it… there is a very slight difference! Set aside. Continue to grill the veggies, lightly spraying them with EVOO and a light dusting of salt and oregano. Once you have grilled the zucchini and sweet potato, wash the slices of eggplant and repeat the grilling process.
  • Place a large pot of salted water on to boil to par cook the lasagna sheets – it is imperative that they are blanched before you assemble your lasagna.
  • While you are waiting for the pasta, this is a great time to make the veloute sauce. The recipe link is in the blog above.
  • Carefully place the pasta sheets in the boiling water for a few minutes to par cook - until they become soft and pliable.
  • Once cooked, place the pasta sheets on a baking tray lined with a clean damp teatowl (you might need a few of these). Carefully lay each one flat (you can fit 2 per teatowl) and cover with another damp towel.
  • To assemble your lasagna, you will need a medium sized, deep baking dish (approx 7cm deep).
  • Start with a scoop of the veloute sauce and spread this around the base of the dish. Place your first sheet of pasta on top - you will need to cut or tear the sheet to the desired size. It is important that the pasta doesn’t ride up the side of the dish as this is how you can end up with dry pieces of pasta. Layer the zucchini along the pasta so the entire pasta sheet is covered and sprinkle some of the leek mixture on top. Crumble over some of the ricotta and tear up some mozzarella and a light sprinkle of Pecorino. Place another sheet of pasta on top. Repeat this process until all the grilled vegetables are used.
  • When starting a new layer, ensure that you use enough of the veloute sauce to generously cover each one - this is what will keep your lasagna from drying out). The only veg that does not need prior cooking is the spinach. This can be layered as is.
  • Your final (top) layer should be a mixture of the grilled vegetables and cheeses. Cover with a piece of baking paper, followed by aluminium foil and place in a moderate oven for 1 hour, or until the lasagna is golden brown.
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