Last time I made vegetable lasagne I put up a very enticing picture on FB, and teased friends and foodies to name the dish. But the spoiler was that I conveniently forgot to click the end result.
So no picture, hence no recipe, hence no post.
I should not have done that – according to my sister. First tempt with alluring sights, tickle the taste buds, and then leave them all high and dry. So not done.
But fret no more.
Today dear sisters, friends and foodies, I bring you Vegetable Lasagne made with the same amount of love, excitement and fervor.
What I have here is a vegetarian version of this supremely delicious dish. Interleaving layers of pasta, marinara, sautéed veggies, spinach bechamel, cashew paneer sauce and Parmigiano-Reggiano makes this pasta DIVINE and of course very fattening.
I made this dish with so much of soul, that I think if I had to have it on a regular basis, I would actually puncture my very own heart.
But you know nature is bountiful, caring and very concerned. The things that could damage you she makes them more difficult to obtain.
Making lasagne itself is not very arduous, but putting together all the contents is. So you will find yourself making it once in a while, but make it with a lot of love, butter and cheese. 🙂
Most Lasagne recipes have egg in them, so when I found a vegan veggie recipe I raced to save it.
Though not vegan, I have the vegetarianism intact here. An amazing amalgam of paneer, cashews, milk and olive oil, infused with garlic was a new for me. But it worked like no other. My good guess is this heavenly cashew-paneer sauce is an apt replacement for the egg. But I could be mistaken, so holler if you find me wrong.
The layering is a breeze and actually if you have a little helper around you, it can get fun too! The 6 year old hands that assisted me in the layering, were so darn careful and meticulous, that I had my eyebrows perennially raised.
Lasagne is basically layering once you have all the components ready. So, I am going to make it easy for you:
First, the individual components needed:
1. Pasta sheets, I used 8 square ones – to layer 4 times.
2. Ragu/marinara sauce/Pizza sauce
3. sautéed veggies – I used colored bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli and carrots
4. Spinach Bechamel/Spinach White sauce
5. Cashew-Paneer sauce
6. Loads of cheese – Mozarella or Parmigiano-Reggiano
7. Torn basil leaves – optional
Individual recipe to each follows after this:
In a well greased baking pan, spread spoonful of marinara, then lay the pasta sheets so as to cover the pan properly. Now spread ragu/marinara again, topped with cashew paneer sauce, then layer the veggies, now the spinach bechamel, some cheese, drop a few basil leaves here and there. Now lay the pasta sheets again, and repeat all over again. End with a nice layer of cheese and bake at 180 C for 15-20 minutes or till the cheese melts and little brown spots appear.
So, in essence: Ragu–>pasta sheet–>ragu–>cashew paneer sauce–>veggies–>spinach bechamel–>cheese–> basil leaves–>pasta sheets–>ragu……
You don’t really have to follow any specific order, but when you have a guideline it simply helps. Feel free to experiment.
Now for the Individual recipes:
Boil the pasta sheets according to the instructions on the box. We like it al dente, but if you want you could cook them till nice and soft. A word of caution: advisable to drop in your sheets one by one into a pot of boiling hot water, laced with oil and salt. Using a fork, keep them from sticking to one another. Else you might have one sticky mess. Once done, remove the sheets from hot water, keep aside.
Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil, saute 5-7 pounded garlic cloves, throw in a chopped onion. Saute till pink. Now add blanched 5-6 ripe red tomatoes, along with 3-4 dried red chilies. Stir in salt. Cover and forget about it for at least 20 minutes( actually give it a stir once in a while). Once the oil appears on the sides and the raw smell of tomatoes has vanished. Throw in 2 tsp of oregano, 1 tsp pepper powder. Run a hand blender through it, to get a slightly coarse sauce. You’re marinara is ready.
2. Sauteed Veggies:
In a wok, heat 1 tsp oil. Saute 1 cup sliced colored bell peppers, 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms, 1/2 cup sliced carrots and a few florets of broccoli. Once 3/4th done. Sprinkle pepper powder and salt. Keep aside.
3. Spinach Bechamel:
Bechamel is nothing but white sauce. To make this, heat 1 tsp butter, lightly saute 1 tbsp plain flour or whole wheat flour. Add a glass of milk, stir vigorously to avoid lumps. To this creamy sauce, add a cup full of chopped blanched spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Keep aside.
4. Cashew Paneer Sauce:
Grind 1/2 cup cashews, 1 tsp olive oil, 1/2 cup milk to a smooth paste. Mix in 1 cup crumbled paneer. In another pan, heat a small blob of butter, saute 3-4 garlic cloves and a small chopped onion. Add the cashew paneer mix. Bring it all together. Season with salt and pepper.
I have altered my original style of sharing a recipe, but this is all I could think of, to make it easier for you to follow. I hope the above guideline helps. If you have doubts, queries or my writing simply baffles you, please drop in a line. Will gladly respond.
So, lunch was ready, the table was set and Mr Moody had to walk in and change the venue.
Outdoors it was. Three people took to two garden chairs and a very swingy swing. This kind of food requires a very perfectly set table, some chilled wine and very sweet talk – I whined. But a slight breeze, soft clouds hiding a very playful sun, a sprightly 6 year old swinging a rickety swing, a tired man sprawled on a very comfortable chair, but all digging in with such vigor that I stop complaining and let the pasta do the talking.