Luscious lentil lasagne

“Lasagne and pesto, what more could a girl wish for..?”

I had to write this recipe up as soon as I had eaten it, because the flavours , textures and colours were so fresh in my mind, I just had to be able to do the recipe justice. I currently live with an omnivore, and the fact even he said it was delicious spoke volumes to me.

The combination of the basil in the pesto with a homemade cheesy white sauce together with the tomato sauce which dresses the lentils is actually heaven on your tongue – the more I chewed the less I wanted it to end – I’ll admit I actually ate seconds and thirds.

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I’m really not a huge fan of lentils

Have you ever told someone that you’re making a lentil dish and been greeted with a facial grimace? Yeh, that kinda face – yeh I’m the one usually making it. I just can’t get on with lentils, that is until now

I’ve just never really been a huge fan of them. No, really it’s true! I think I can trace it back to being a kid, and either eating them extremely undercooked, or really over cooked. Like those vegetables your grandparents used to make…or maybe that’s just me?

Unless they’re caked in herbs and spices, say in an Indian dish, then, with lentils, it’s a no from me. Ever since opting for a plat based diet I’ve seen numerous recipes posted across the internet which often use lentils as a substitute for meat – mostly minced red meat dishes. I’d assume because of their texture as well as their ability to absorb the flavours in which they’re cooked.

I’ve never used lentils in a dish that wasn’t Indian. Other than a Bosh! recipe back in December which saw me make a paté to coat the mushrooms I was cooking in a wellington. Ok, now that was pretty delicious – but the many attempts after that I just couldn’t get my head around why someone would choose to eat them and I refuse to buy the pre-packaged, pre-cooked lentils you get in the supermarkets ready to re-heat!

I came across the tomato and lentil filling for this recipe when looking at vegan bolognese options. I did try it once and it felt under-cooked. the reason I opted to put it into this dish was because I knew that once in the oven it would have had even longer to cook, marinade and absorb the flavours in which it was cooked – it actually did!

White sauce – a first for me!

Before my plant-based days I used to buy ready-made white lasagne sauce even when I made my own passata, simply because I thought it looked so difficult to make. Actually I remember making a white sauce in my cookery classes at school back when I was 14 – and it was a disaster.

Fast forward to my plant-based days and all I could think was, “a white sauce has got to be even harder to make without dairy products right?” Hmmm, turns out – not!!! This is probably the simplest sauce I ever made…

Using homegrown ingredients

I started growing tomatoes, peppermint coriander and basil about 3 months ago in pots in my garden. Basil, because I wanted to try making my own pesto – although I’d been reluctant to in the early stages because I’d heard pesto required a huge chunk of basil.

homegrown basil

Turns out, again, with this recipe not so much. Unsure if it’s because it was homegrown basil Ii used, or it was because it was my first proper attempt at pesto – but once again, it was the best pesto I’d probably ever tasted.

The Recipe

PREP TIME: 30 MINS

COOKING TIME: 30 MINS

COST: < £5

Serves: 4-6 

Ingredients:

Tomato lentils

  • 1 large white onion (or 2 medium white onions)
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 courgette (cubed)
  • 1 red pepper (chopped)
  • 6 white mushrooms (finely chopped)
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup of cooked lentils (green or red)
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar (brown or caster)
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of black pepper

White lasagne sauce

  • 2 tablespoons of vegan butter/margarine
  • 1⁄3 cup of plain flour
  • 1 and 1⁄2 cups of plant based milk (I use soya or almond)
  • 3 -4 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • A pinch of salt and pepper to season

Spinach pesto

  • 3⁄4 cup of walnuts
  • 2 handfuls of spinach leaves
  • 1 handful of fresh basil
  • Juice 1⁄2 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1⁄3 of a cup of water

Method:

  • For the lentil filling: Oil a wide bottom pan and heat over medium heat
  • Add the onion and fry until translucent
  • Add the garlic and fry for a further minute
  • Next add the peppers, courgettes and mushrooms and stir in
  • Wait 5-7 minutes and then add the chopped tomatoes, lentils and sugar to the pan, cover and simmer on a  low heat for 20 minutes
  • Add salt and pepper to season, then the chilli flakes then simmer for a further 5 minutes
  • For the white lasagne sauce: Add the butter to a frying pan and melt on a low heat being careful not to burn,
  • add the flour and stir to combine well
  • Next add your chosen plant milk and the nutritional year and stir constantly while simmering for five minutes
  • The sauce should begin to thicken, but ensure no lumps form by stirring
  • Season well and remove from the heat to prevent it from thickening further
  • For the spinach pesto:  Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blitz well until the mixture resembles a smooth paste (if you want a rustic pesto, don’t blitz too much)
  • For the lasagne: Once your three mixtures are made in a medium roasting tin or rectangular Pirex dish place your first lasagna sheets onto the base of the tin/dish to line (I find this makes it easier when serving)
  • Layer half of the tomato and lentil filling on top, then add some white sauce and then pesto
  • Add another layer of lasagna sheets and repeat being sure to leave some pesto for the topping
  • Add a final layer of lasagna sheets and pour a final layer of pesto
  • Sprinkle with vegan cheese, cover and bake in the over for 30 minutes at 200° celsius.
  • Leave to cool slightly, cut and serve with a salad garnish.

Tried this recipe? Let me know how it turned out.