Mediterranean vegetable lasagne
- 1 small aubergine, about 250g, cut into roughly 2.5cm chunks
- 2 medium courgettes, about 400g total weight, quartered lengthways and cut into roughly
- 2cm chunks
- 2 yellow or red peppers, deseeded and cut into roughly 2cm chunks
- 1 medium red onion, peeled and cut into thin wedges
- 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and black pepper
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 75g dried red split lentils
- 3tbsp tomato purée
- 2tsp dried oregano
- 1 fresh bay leaf or 2 dried bay leaves
- 150ml red wine or extra water
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 2tsp sugar any kind (optional)
- 300ml cold water
- 6 dried lasagne sheets, ideally wholewheat
- For the cheese sauce:
- 50g butter
- 50g plain flour
- 600ml semi-skimmed or whole milk
- 50g Parmesan cheese finely grated
- 100g young spinach leaves
Put the aubergine, courgettes, peppers and onion in a large bowl. Pour over the oil and season with salt and lots of ground black pepper. Toss well together.
Place a large non-stick frying pan or wok over a high heat and stir-fry the vegetables in 3 batches for 1–2 minutes, or until nicely browned, putting the first 2 batches in a large saucepan or flameproof casserole while the third batch is cooked. Pre-browning the vegetables like this will add lots of flavour to the lasagne.
Add the garlic to the final batch of vegetables and cook for a few seconds more before adding to the rest of the vegetables.
Add the tomatoes, lentils, tomato purée, oregano, bay leaf, red wine, crumbled stock cube, sugar and water. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then reduce the heat and cook for 15 minutes, or
until the vegetables are softened and the sauce is thick, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C/gas 6. While the vegetables are cooking, make the cheese sauce. Put the butter, flour and milk in a medium saucepan and whisk over a low–medium heat for 4–5 minutes or until the sauce is smooth and thickened. (Use a silicone-covered whisk if using a non-stick pan to prevent scratches.) Using a wooden spoon, stir in half the Parmesan cheese and the spinach leaves, one handful at a time, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spread half the vegetables over the base of a 2.5-litre shallow ovenproof lasagne dish (or 2–3 smaller dishes), cover with dried lasagne sheets. Repeat the layers, ending in the pasta. Pour over the cheese sauce and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Bake for 25–30 minutes or until golden brown and hot throughout.
Stand for 5–10 minutes before cutting. Serve with a large mixed salad and olive oil vinaigrette.
FREEZING TIP Freeze the cooked and cooled lasagne in one or two shallow freezer-proof and ovenproof containers (foil containers are good here). It will keep in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat in a preheated oven at 200°C/fan oven 180°C/gas 6, covered loosely with foil, for 20–30 minutes or until hot throughout. Alternatively, microwave individual portions on covered plates for 4–5 minutes, or until hot. FOLLOWING THE 28-DAY PLAN? Cut the cooked lasagne into 6 portions. Serve 2 as your evening meal and put the other 4 in individual freezer-proof dishes. Cover and freeze for later in the plan