My vegan lasagne

I write this after feasting on another lasagne for dinner and I really could not hold this recipe from you anymore. It’s delicious and worthy in every kitchen, whether you’re vegan or not. I am also thinking it would be the perfect addition to a christmas eve dinner, so it’s just in time for you to start your planning!

This past year lasagne has been making a regular appearance on my dinner table. It’s simple to make vegetarian lasagne but I found it a little trickier to make it vegan and still keep all the delicious and comforting flavours. I have made mushroom lasagne, creamy carrot and lentil lasagne, eggplant lasagne with lemony ricotta and the list goes on. But this recipe is my absolute favourite. It’s creamy, hearty, warming and oh so satisfying.

The layers consist of lentil bolognese, which to me is one of the greatest things ever, a vegan béchamel sauce, grilled vegetables, fresh spinach and all topped off with a home-made vegan parmesan. I used some fresh spelt pasta but choose whatever pasta you like although try and make it a healthy choice.

Notes about the recipe

I often make the lentil bolognese as an easy midweek meal over raw zucchini noodles, spelt pasta or quinoa. Please do try this as it is a delicious alternative to the regular spaghetti bolognese.

The lentil bolognese can be adapted with whatever vegetables you have on hand, celery is great and sweet potato too. The mushrooms add a nice richness so if you have them on hand do include. I often just throw in any extra vegetables hiding at the bottom of the fridge.

I like to buy a large jar of charred capsicum from selected supermarkets or gourmet food stores, they taste delicious and are great addition to many dishes.

It may seem like a huge ingredient list and mammoth task but its not too complicated and most parts can be made in advance.

Lentil, eggplant and zucchini  lasagne 

Makes 1 very large lasagne with 8-10 serves

Ingredients for the lentil bolognese 

  • 1.5 C whole green lentils, preferably soaked overnight
  • 2 tbsp cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 200g swiss brown mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 1/2 a large red chilli, finely sliced
  • 1 tin crushed tomatoes
  • 4 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 C chopped fresh italian herbs, chopped (basil, parsley, oregano, rosemary)
  • 1/4 C chopped and pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/4 C charred capcicum, finely chopped
  • 1/4 C good quality red wine
  • Himalayan salt and freshly cracked pepper, to season

Ingredients for the béchamel sauce

  • 2 Tbsp cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp chickpea flour
  • 2 C unsweetened plant milk (cashew, almond or soy)
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • Himalayan salt and white pepper, to season

Ingredients for the raw vegan parmesan 

  • 2 Tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 2 Tbsp walnuts
  • 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Himalayan salt and freshly cracked pepper, to season

To assemble

  • 1 large eggplant (aubergine), sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • Spelt or gluten free lasagne sheets
  • 2 C fresh spinach or chard leaves

Method 

  1. If soaking the lentils in advance simply place in a large bowl and cover generously with filtered water and a squeeze of lemon.
  2. To cook the lentils drain off the soaking water (if applicable) and place in a saucepan with 2 bay leaves and cover generously with water. Bring to a gentle simmer  before covering and cooking for 20-25 minutes, or until tender. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.
  3. To start the bolognese heat the olive oil in a large pan, add the chopped onion and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes. The onion needs to gently sweat rather than colour. Add in the garlic, mushrooms, carrot and chilli while continuing to cook gently for another 5 or so minutes.
  4. Add in the tin tomatoes, then 2 C of water, followed by the tomato paste, fresh herbs, kalamata olives, charred capsicum and red wine. Bring to a simmer before covering and cooking for 35-45 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. To make the béchamel sauce gently heat the olive oil in a small sauce pan. Add in the chickpea flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. Slowly add the milk a little at a time, whisking constantly. Continue to whisk over a gently heat until it starts to thicken and bubble. Let it cook for another 2 minutes before taking off the heat. Add the nutritional yeast, nutmeg and season to taste. Set aside.
  6. To make the vegan parmesan simply finely chop the sunflower seeds and walnuts and combine in a small bowl with the nutritional yeast and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Lastly, preheat a grill to high. Brush the eggplant and zucchini slices with olive oil before placing in a single layer under the grill. Cook each side for around 5 minutes, or until golden brown.
  8. Finally its time to assemble. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. In a large baking or lasagne dish (30 x 20 cm) place a spoonful of lentil bolognese. Spread over the base of the dish before following with pasta sheets, lentil bolognese, grilled zuchinni and eggplant, fresh spinach/chard and a drizzle of the béchamel. Continue these layers until all ingredients are used, making sure you save 1/4 of the béchamel for the final top layer. Sprinkle over the raw parmesan and cover with a lid. Bake for 40-45 minutes, before removing the lid and baking for a further 15 minutes.
  9. Leave to sit for 10 minutes before serving. I like to pop a few potatoes in at the same time for delicious whole baked potatoes. I also serve with a fresh green salad.

 

 

 

Banana and dark chocolate cookies

Over the past couple of months I have been making these cookies when I have an overflowing bowl of ripe bananas and a need for something sweet other than banana bread. The bananas add a beautiful sweetness and chewy texture while also making these cookies a great energy boosting snack.

I have trialled these on a car trip, where they travelled well and satisfied all the passengers, even my sister who usually complains that nothing is sweet enough. The cookies also made an appearance on a bicycle ride with me today and they were the perfect halfway snack to keep us satisfied until lunch.

Without the chocolate I would be inclined to say these would also make a fabulous breakfast on the run, seeing as they are made of some of the usual breakfast suspects like oats, almonds, buckwheat, chia and coconut.

Banana and dark chocolate cookies

makes approximately 20 large cookies

Ingredients 

  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed (the riper, the sweeter)
  • 1/2 C cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 C raw honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean extract
  • 1 1/4 C buckwheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 C rolled oats (gluten free if necessary)
  • 1 C almond meal
  • 1 C desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 75g dark chocolate (75% cocoa or more), roughly chopped

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
  2. In a small bowl or jug combine the mashed banana, olive oil, honey and vanilla. Whisk with a fork to combine and set aside.
  3. Sift the buckwheat flour and baking powder into a large bowl then stir in the other dry ingredients.
  4. Add the banana mixture and mix to combine. Finally add in the dark chocolate.
  5. Roll large tablespoons of the mixture onto the prepared trays and flatten with your palm (they won’t spread when cooking).
  6. Place into the preheated oven and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
  7. Cool on a wire rack before enjoying with a cup of tea!