Monday, 21 November 2016

Vegan Lasagne

When I was clearing out my kitchen cupboards the other day (something that doesn't happen nearly often enough), I found a couple of packets of lasagne sheets, and began dreaming up what I could create with them. I decided to stick with the obvious choice, but wondered if I could make a vegan version. In my opinion regular lasagne is always too meat and never pasta-y enough. So I subbed the mince for lentils and replaced the heavy white sauce with a vegan, aubergine based "cheese sauce". The outcome was pretty freaking good if I do say so myself. Now I'm not going to tell you this tastes like regular lasagne – it's just a great meal in it's own right, and honestly I prefer it to the real deal. 

Ingredients (feeds 6)
A packet (250g) and a half of lasagne sheets.

"Bolognese" sauce
2 big white onions (250g)
3 cloves garlic
3 carrots (150g)
2 celery stalks (125g)
175g of cherry tomatoes
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
700ml of vegetable stock
250g green lentils
2 tins of tomatoes
500ml of water

Cheese sauce (inspired by the minimalist baker)
3 medium aubergines
10 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 cup of almond milk
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp cornflour

Fry the onions for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic, carrots and celery. Fry until softened (but not browned – this should take around 10 minutes). Add the rosemary, thyme, bay and tomatoes and after a few minutes add half the vegetable stock, tinned and sundried tomatoes. Simmer for around 30 minutes until reduced. Now add the lentils and remaining water. Leave to simmer until the lentils are softened, adding more water if necessary. This will take around 30 minutes. You want the sauce to be wet enough to pour over the lasagne sheets, so make sure not to simmer too much of the liquid away. 

Slice the aubergines into rounds, salt generously, and leave for (at least) 30 minutes to draw out excess liquid. Once this is done, rinse and pat dry. Oil, season and place aubergine on lined trays. Grill the aubergine for 4 minutes of each side until roasted but not burnt. Once both sides are done, wrap the rounds in foil and leave to steam for 5 minutes. Once steamed, peel the skin off and transfer to a blender with the nutritional yeast, almond milk, garlic powder and cornflour. Blend until smooth and season to taste. 

When all of the components are finished, you're ready to assemble. I'm more about the pasta than anything else so I preferred to do lots of thin layers of the sauces in between the sheets. I also added some sautéed kale on top of the cheese layers, which worked really well and ensures you're getting in some greens!

You can totally make this a day in advance and leave in the fridge until you're ready to cook. Bake in the oven at 180c for 45 minutes. I covered the dish with foil to keep in the moisture and to stop it from browning too fast. 


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