Preparation Time 1 hour 15 Minutes Cooking time 45-50 minutes Serves 4-6
From the time I first got married 33 years ago, I have been cooking lasagne in one form or another. I was neither coeliac or vegan back then, it was a dish that seemed to take every pan in the house to make.
To me, it is a good old cold weather, family meal. To be honest it was an easy one to veganise and make gluten-free. I knew that I wanted to keep it as traditional as I could. By that, I mean using a bechamel sauce combined in layers with lasagne sheets a tomato and herb sauce. With just a few tweaks here and there, I now have a lasagne I am more than proud of. It still fills the house with wonderful aromas of garlic, basil and tomatoes.
You may have noticed that I have included black beans into this lasagne recipe, I know this is a little unusual. I wanted something to provide a hearty feel to the dish, also a rustic earthiness, without using mushrooms for a change. I crush them slightly with a fork, I wanted the texture to remain, so I stayed away from the potato masher. You should still see some whole beans.
While I think my lasagne is pretty dam good, I will, however, stay away from laying claims to it being the best vegan lasagne around. I will let those who choose to make it be the judge of that.
You will need a pyrex or earthenware pan which is roughly 13.25 inches x 6.25 inches x 20.75 inches deep to cook the lasagne in.
- 2 x 400g chopped tomatoes
- 4 cloves of garlic crushed
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tin green lentils, rinsed
- 1 tin black beans, rinsed and slightly crushed
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 100ml vegan red wine, I like to use a merlot
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp sage
- a sprig of basil (with about 6 leaves)
- Salt and pepper
- pinch of sugar
- 1 litre warm unsweetened cashew milk
- 100g dairy-free margarine
- 85g plain flour (gf if needed)
- 1 1/2 tsp English mustard
- 2 tsp nutritional yeast flakes Tbsp
- salted and pepper
- freshly grated nutmeg
- 9-12 sheets of lasagne, gf if needed
- 25g parmesan cheese
- 30g of cheese of choice, I use vegan mozzarella or cheddar style
I know it seems there is a lot of ingredients, but each one is an important member of the squad. Making your own lasagne from scratch is a labour of love.
Heat the olive oil in a wide top deep saucepan or frying pan. Then add the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook on medium heat for around 5-10 minutes. Just allow to soften and become opaque, but not to colour.
Next, add the tomato puree and a pinch of sugar and cookout for a few minutes. Then add the red wine, cook for 3-5 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes, herbs, green lentils and black beans. Season well and add the sprig of basil to pan whole, piercing the stem a few times. This is just to impart flavour into the sauce, remove it once the sauce has finished cooking.
Simmer on a low heat for 30-45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200C fan assisted 185C
While the tomato sauce cooking, make the Bechamel sauce as follows.
On a low heat, slowly melt the margarine in a pan, then add the flour. Stir together until it forms a paste. Let this cook for a few minutes.
Slowly add the warm milk, whisking all the time to stop lumps occurring. Bring to the boil once all the milk has been added, whisking continuously until it thickens and is silky smooth. Turn the heat down to medium, and let it simmer for 5 minutes to ensure all the flour has been cooked out. Then add the mustard, grated nutmeg, nutritional yeast and salt and pepper.
Once both sauces are cooked, it is time to assemble the lasagne.
Start by placing a layer of the red sauce in the bottom of the dish, then add a layer of lasagne sheets. On top of this spread a layer of bechamel sauce. Repeat these layers, ending up with a layer of bechamel sauce
Place into a hot oven and cook for around 45-50 minutes, until the top is crispy and golden. I never serve mine straight away. I leave it for at least 30 minutes before I attempt to remove some from the dish. Any earlier and it is a little too sloppy.