This lasagne is legendary amongst my friends. It is so good that I have literally used it as a bartering tool…… Not my suggestion I hasten to add, but so delicious is it, that people would offer me stuff in exchange for lasagne…… It is a recipe (my own) which I have been making for about 25 years.
Interestingly, since becoming gluten free, lasagne is something I make less often. Although it is one of my favourite dishes and Miss GF adores it too, commercial gluten free lasagne sheets can be a pain to use, on account of the fact that all the brands I have ever come across require pre-cooking. This adds a lot of faff to an already lengthy process. I know I should just make my own, but this would make it even more labour-intensive and alongside work, I simply haven’t got the time…..
Gluten free commercial lasagne also varies considerably from one make to another, with some being way too thick for my liking. My favourites for texture, ‘density’ and taste are Salute (which has become increasingly difficult to source) and La Buona Vita.
I did spot last week that Barkat have started doing pre-cooked lasagne sheets……. Can’t wait to get my hands on some to try….. They could seriously revolutionise lasagne-making (and eating) for me….. It could even become a weekly meal!
Either way….. if any one out there can recommend other good gluten free brands or pre-cooked versions, please leave a comment and let me know.
Back to the filling layers….. The cheese sauce is (I think) fairly standard and if you have a favourite recipe, then by all means use it. It is the vegetable sauce that makes this lasagne special! Stuffed with fresh, healthy veg and full of the flavours of the Mediterranean….. plenty of oregano, thyme and sun-soaked produce, you can make this lasagne either gluten free or not.
The vegetables work best in combination….. picked for contrasting colour, flavour and texture. Aubergine adds softness……. baby corn adds crunch……. mushrooms give an earthy backdrop…… while peppers and tomatoes bring bright sunshine sweetness and colour to the party. Throw in lots of onions and garlic for extra depth and richness and some freshly-picked garden courgettes for a subtle hint of contrasting bitterness. It really is a perfect summer season medley. And if there’s a bit of veg you don’t like, just leave it out or substitute for something else. Really….. anything goes!
My (no longer) secret ingredients, which take this sauce to stardom, are a splash of gluten free soy (Shoyu) sauce, a hefty dollop of honey and a sprinkle of pine nuts.
The honey works in perfect harmony against the tang of Mediterranean herbs, hitting you with a deliciously sweet, but not over-powering flavour dimension. If you can get a good thyme or floral honey, so much the better…… We were lucky to still have some incredible greek honey from our travels in Crete last year (we brought lots of it home with us).
The pine nuts (extra amazing if toasted first), give a wonderful nutty crunch and ensure little surprise bites of magic and goodness as you munch.
So there you have it…… my legendary Vegetable Lasagne is out of the bag. If you make it, please let me know what you think!
Cook Blog Share, this week with Easy Peasy Foodie. Great to see Eb hosting her first shout-out this week.
Free From Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse
Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice.
Vegetable Lasagne (serves 6 good-sized portions (or 8 smaller ones))
1 x 142g tin concentrated tomato puree
splash gluten free Shoyu (soy) sauce
2 tablespoons runny honey
30g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cornflour
¾ litre milk
180g grated mature cheddar cheese – grated
good grind black pepper
extra grated cheddar and black pepper to sprinkle on top
- Prepare a large (approx 30cm/12 inches by 20 cm/8 inches) glass or ceramic oven-proof dish by greasing with butter or olive oil.
- Make the Tomato-Vegetable Sauce : Prepare the vegetables and herbs (chopping etc) ready for cooking, and toast the pine nuts either in a hot oven or under a grill for a few minutes (keeping a close eye to ensure they don’t burn).
- Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan and saute the onions over a medium heat for a few minutes until they soften.
- Add the garlic and stir through, continuing to fry.
- Next add the peppers, baby corn, courgette and aubergine and continue to cook for several minutes, stirring intermittently.
- Finally add the mushrooms and pine nuts and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more.
- Add the tomato puree and a dash of gluten free soy (Shoyu) sauce and stir through.
- Allow to cook for 5 or so minutes, stirring frequently and then add the honey and stir through.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, herbs and salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir thoroughly and then leave to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to allow the flavours to mingle and the sauce to reduce slightly.
- When ready, turn off the heat and set aside while you prepare the lasagne and make the cheese sauce.
- Cheese Sauce : In a large saucepan, gently melt the butter over a low heat.
- Add the cornflour and continuing to stir, allow to cook through for a couple of minutes.
- Remove from the heat.
- Add a tiny drop of milk at a time, stirring thoroughly to a smooth paste (don’t worry if at first it looks a little grainy, as you add more milk it should become smooth). As the batter loosens and becomes more liquid, you will be able to slightly increase the amount of milk you add at one go.
- Once all the milk is added, return the pan to the heat and stirring continuously, very gradually bring the sauce to almost a simmer. It should begin to thicken well.
- Add the cheese and seasoning and continue to stir over a low heat until the cheese has melted and blended into a smooth sauce. Do not allow to boil.
- Remove from the heat while you prepare your pasta, but stir occasionally to avoid a skin forming.
- Prepare your lasagne sheets as per packet instructions (I did mine in batches, to avoid sticking).
- Place a layer of lasagne in the base of your prepared oven-proof dish and top with a layer of vegetable sauce.
- Next add another layer of lasagne and then a layer of cheese sauce.
- Repeat this process (lasagne – sauce), finishing with a layer of cheese sauce.
- Top with a good sprinkle of cheese and a good grind of black pepper.
- You can bake immediately or later : Pre-heat your oven to 220 C/425 F/Gas 7 and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden and the lasagne is bubbling hot.
- Enjoy on its own, with salad or with gluten free garlic bread.