There’s something so therapeutic about not just eating, but making comfort food. I truly enjoy the catharsis of creating something out of passion for the produce and the process. A true foodie doesn’t just associate comfort food with tough days, they associate it with food that feels like a warm hug on a cold rainy day. This recipe feels something like that. A true mix of hearty food with mellow, yet vibrant flavors packing a punch. This Ladies and Gentlemen, is my Italian Vegetarian Lasagne. It’s decadent, it’s filling, it’s a family dish to devour. And here is how it’s done!
Recipe (Serves 6-8)
- 1 Can of Chopped Tomatoes
- 1 Small Onion Finely Chopped
- 3 Cloves of Garlic Finely Chopped
- 2 Medium Tomatoes Chopped
- 1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
- 5-6 leaves of Basil
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Start off by heating a pan with oil, add chopped onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add chopped garlic and allow it to caramelize. Follow with freshly chopped tomatoes and cook off for 5-10 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and the seasoning. Cook off for another 15-2o minutes. Finish with chopped basil.
- 2 Tbsp. Butter
- 2 Tbsp. All Purpose Flour
- 3 Cups Milk
- 1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella
- 1 Clove of Garlic
- Salt & Pepper to taste
Start by adding butter and garlic in a non stick pan on very low-heat. You want the butter and garlic to infuse and not cook or bubble away. Add all purpose flour and cook out the rue. It usually takes about 1-2 minutes on medium heat. Add 1/2 Cup of Milk and whisk it thoroughly. This is the stage where lumps usually form and the whisk ensures you get a smooth and creamy consistency. Add the rest of the milk, whisking constantly during the process. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the sauce consistently. Once it reaches the stage where the sauce can coat the back of the spoon evenly, it’s the right time to take it off the heat. Finally, add the cheese and the seasoning. I’d recommend making this sauce right before layering the lasagne so as to keep it from thickening too much. The cheese and seasoning ensure the same, it makes the sauce more molten and goey and the salt draws out moisture.
- Pre-heat the oven at 200 C
- Boil a large vessel of water and let it bubble away. It’s tricky to boil lasagne sheets together so I found one very simple way that works. I hold my individual lasagne sheet with a tong and soak in boiling water for 10-20 seconds. This adds moisture to the pasta that later helps the cooking process in the oven. Painstaking, but oh so worth it!
- Then I start layering. Start off with red sauce, add your first layer of lasagne and shredded mozzarella. Add another layer and top with Bechamel Sauce. Repeat until you run out of all sauces. The last layer will consist of 1 1/2 cup Ricotta mixed with blanched spinach (All you have to do to cook the spinach is place it in boiling water for 5 minutes and immediately after, cool in ice water, this retains the color and keeps the wilting and changing color). You can season this with a tad bit of salt, depends on the saltiness of the cheese. On top of the ricotta, add the last layer of Bechamel and finish it with shredded mozzarella.
- Now, cover it with foil and cook for 35-40 minutes at 200 C. You can inset a wooden stick or a spaghetti inside the lasagne, if it goes through smoothly with no resistance, the pasta is cooked perfectly.
- Serve it straight up on the dining table and top with Basil. (Optional)