Sometimes, though, I have the urge to branch out and see what lies in the land of decadent lasagnes. I went into this recipe unprepared for the amount of preparation it takes! Mum's lasagne is quick to whip up and I know it like the back of my hand - this one took a little more planning and a lot more time. If it's a quiet Sunday night in and you have a craving for lasagne, this may not be the right one for you, but I think it would make for a perfect feast if you're entertaining people. It's rich in flavour, plentiful in layers and decadent in the way of cheese. Yes, please.
Time: 1hr 30mins - 2 hours Yield: 4-6 portions
for the filling
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 aubergine (eggplant), cut into 1cm rounds
1 large courgette, cut into slices
8-10 dry lasagne sheets
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
for the cheese sauce
30g unsalted butter
30g plain flour
550ml whole milk
100g grated gruyere
freshly cracked black pepper to season
for the tomato sauce
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato puree
400g tin of peeled plum tomatoes
150g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
Heat the oven to 200C / Gas Mark 6.
- In a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over a high heat. Add the aubergine slices in a single layer, turning to ensure they turn golden brown on both sides. Repeat with the remaining aubergine and the courgette, adding more oil as needed.
- To prepare the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add the onions, cooking until soft. Mix in the tomato puree, tomatoes, sugar and garlic, and cook for 20 minutes or so. Season with pepper (and salt, if you wish). The sauce should reduce down and thicken a little. Add the basil, and remove the saucepan from the heat to cool slightly.
- For the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Slowly add the milk to the pan, stirring constantly. Bring the mixture to the boil and very gently simmer it for 3-4 minutes, stirring until the sauce has thickened and coats the back of the spoon. It should be smooth and glossy. Remove from the heat and stir in the gruyere.
- To assemble, pour half of the of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a 20cm x 30cm oven dish. Place half of the aubergines and courgettes on top. Tear half of the mozzarella ball into pieces and scatter over the vegetables, then top with a layer of lasagne sheets. Repeat this layering once again. Pour over the cheese sauce, and grate a little parmesan over the top. Bake for 30 minutes until golden and bubbling.
Adapted from: The Meat Free Monday Cookbook, p214