A Vegetarian’s Delight : Vegetable and Pumpkin Lasagna
I bet you thought you’d have to wait another 8 months before my next recipe post, hey? That’s how long it was between the last two…how terribly slack of me. But I promised you a savoury recipe, and I wanted to deliver. This lasagna is amazing. You can’t say I don’t keep my promises!
Maybe I’ll turn out to be Nigella after all? Without the drugs. And I only sometimes speak with an English accent.
I actually found this recipe a couple of years ago, the first time I went vegetarian (more like a flexitarian really, and for only 2 months or so, I’m ashamed to say!). It was a hit back then, and when I decided to stop eating meat for good this time, I knew that it was something I wanted to become a regular in the Stuart household. One problem stood in my way – I couldn’t for the life of me find the recipe again!
If you’ve read my previous post, you would know that I don’t really rate recipes anyway…I prefer to mix and match my own ingredients until I get a good feeling…and this lasagna is no different. I tried to write down the recipe for it a couple of months ago for a friend…and when I went to make it last night I realised that even that needed a little improvising – lucky I’m so flexible!
I should preface this recipe with a few cold, hard facts. I realised, after I began cooking, that I forgot to take a photo of all the ingredients. Then when I went to collate the ingredients (which I luckily had more of) I realised that I had no vegetable stock. Then I realised that I had no fresh basil or oregano. Then I took my photo and later realised that I forgot to put the bay leaves in the photo. Forgot the bloody bay leaves! So far, this was going incredibly smoothly.
Lucky I’m not a real recipe blogger, isn’t it?
But I wasn’t gonna let a little thing like missing ingredients stop me! Needless to say, it turned out amazingly anyway, otherwise I wouldn’t be raving all about it. You’ll notice that I’ve counter-balanced all the calories lost by taking out the meat with a wickedly devilish white sauce. So give it a go. Maybe you’ll discover a new family favourite. And save some animals while you’re at it.
Vegetable and Pumpkin Lasagna
Good with salad, garlic bread, or, you know…just cut up a big hunk and eat this deliciousness all on its own.
Approx. 1kg Butternut pumpkin
3 x cloves garlic
2 x carrots
2 x celery sticks
400g Tin Diced Tomatoes
500ml Vegetable Stock/Water
2 x Bay leaves
Salt and Pepper
500g Ricotta cheese
160ml thickened cream
3cups Mozzarella/Cheddar Cheese
Lasagna sheets of your choice!
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Peel and slice your pumpkin (approximately 5mm thick). Layout your slices on a baking tray, season with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of cinnamon, and bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes.
2. Finely dice your zucchini, carrot, celery, garlic, and onion (I used a food processor to get mine done quickly!). Season with salt and pepper. With a splash of olive oil, sauté over low heat until soft.
3. Add the stock, tin of tomatoes, bay leaves, and herbs. In lieu of fresh, I used dried – but you really can’t compare with quality herbs straight from the garden. I had to use water, not stock, and spiced it up with a little powdered sage. Didn’t turn out so badly! Simmer for 20 minutes or so, until liquid reduces.
4. In a saucepan over low heat, combine the ricotta, cream, and one cup of cheese. Stir until it’s a gooey, creamy, delicious mess. You guessed it, season with salt and pepper.
5. Grease a medium sized baking dish, and line it with baking paper. Lay down enough lasagna sheets to cover the bottom and, using a slotted spoon, layer on some of the vegetable mix – enough to lightly cover the lasagna sheets. Loosely scatter the pumpkin on top (keeping enough left for a couple more layers!) and cover with the cheese sauce. Sprinkle over some of the remaining cheese and begin the process all over again! The cheese and sauce will spread slightly as it melts further, so don’t worry about getting it too evenly covered.
6. Finish your lasagna with a layer of sheets, cheese sauce and finally, enough cheese to make it crispy and delicious on top. I added some parmesan for extra punch. Put in the oven for however long your lasagna packet says.
I know you’ll be tempted to eat it straight out of the oven, but make sure you leave your lasagna to cool slightly before eating. This will help the cheesy sauce thicken a bit and crunch up the top and make it even better…and, if you’re like me, you’ll avoid a burnt mouth in the process.
On that note, I’m going to go and have my lasagna for dinner for the second night in a row. Also, I had it for lunch today. It’s that good.
Don’t believe me? Make it yourself and find out!