It’s happening. I can feel it. The veggies are starting to take over my life. I don’t think I’ll ever fully convert to vegetarianism but I’m certainly enjoying more veggie meals than ever before. I had always imagined meals without meat to be bland and boring with little satisfaction. I repent. My meat free week a few weeks ago has proved me wrong and now I enjoy meat free meals at least 3-4 times per week. This was one of my favourite recipes from that week and I am sure it will be on the menu numerous times over the summer.
For Lentils and Tomato Sauce:
2 Bay Leaves
3 tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 Onion (finely chopped)
1 stick of Celery (finely chopped)
1 Carrot (finely chopped)
1 clove of Garlic (finely chopped)
1/2 Courgette (finely chopped)
1 Red Pepper (finely chopped)
90ml White Wine
700g Tomato Passata
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tin (400g) of Butter Beans (drained and rinsed)
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
500ml of Milk
grating of Nutmeg
10 Lasagna Sheets (approx)
2 balls of Mozzarella (preferably Irish Buffalo Mozzarella, finely sliced)
1. Rinse the lentils well before putting in a saucepan with 1 litre of cold water and one bay leaf. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for approx 30 minutes. There is no need to season the lentils yet. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, courgette and red pepper. Season well with salt and pepper and cook for 7-10 minutes. Add the wine and allow to cook off for 4-5 minutes before adding the cooked lentils, passata, oregano and beans. Allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Check for seasoning.
3. Meanwhile make the bechamel. Put a saucepan over a medium heat and melt the butter in it. When it has all melted add the flour and stir well. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly to ensure it doesn’t burn. Whisk in the milk in a steady stream and stir often. It will thicken quite quickly as it comes to the boil. Season to taste with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg and set aside.
4. Cook the lasagna sheets in plenty of salted boiling water for about 4 minutes. Remove from the pan and keep apart from each other to stop them from sticking.
5. Assemble the lasagna in a baking dish. Start with a thin layer of lentil and tomato sauce followed by bechamel followed by a single layer of pasta sheets. Repeat this process twice more and finish with a layer of bechamel. Top the dish with the mozzarella and bake in a pre-heated 180 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.