I’ve adapted this recipe from Jack Monroe’s ‘Ultimate Lasagne’ recipe, with a few changes that I’ve made while cooking this myself in the past – if you enjoy this recipe, you might want to support Jack – they do incredible activist work, particularly surrounding austerity.
This recipe is vegetarian, and can easily be made vegan if you substitute the milk and cheese for vegan options (though vegan cheese has a higher melting point, so bear that in mind) and find vegan gravy granules (Bisto state that their granules are vegan).
I would like to make it clear that I have never managed to make this lasagne look at all appetising – a friend once saw a photo of my attempt and commented “that looks like you took a shit and sprinkled some almonds over it”. HOWEVER, I’m writing about it because it is absolutely delicious, second helpings will be demanded, and even though it’s not the fastest recipe in the world, it’s really satisfying and fun to create, even if it looks like a mess. Plus, cooking with wine makes me feel grown up and sophisticated – make this while playing soft jazz music, swirling a glass of wine in your hand (I recommend Echo Falls’ well-known vintage, Summer Fruits), to feel extra classy, then crash quickly down to earth again when you see your ugly lasagne baby come out of the oven. Who knows! Maybe yours will be beautiful.
Prep time: as I learnt the first time I made this, chopping ingredients up into smithereens takes a while; longer if you don’t have some kind of blender. So I would recommend you set aside an hour and a half (including 40 mins cooking time) just to be safe.
Serves: 6-8 (or four hungry people looking for second helpings – which this dish definitely inspires in my experience)
A decent knife
Bullet blender/small chopper (if you have one)
2-6 cloves of garlic (depending on your preference)
200g dried green or red lentils OR veggie mince
100ml red wine
400g chopped tomatoes
1 tsp herbs
1tbsp gravy granules
1 packet lasagne sheets
For the white sauce:
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp breadcrumbs
Enough cheese to liberally sprinkle on top.
How to make:
1. Start by peeling and chopping your onion and garlic – much easier in a bullet blender/chopper, but fine to do by hand if you’ve got a bit of time or if your student kitchen doesn’t have this luxury. Add your chopped ingredients into a large-ish pan with the oil and salt, and simmer on a medium heat for a few minutes.
2. Rinse your lentils under a cold tap for a few minutes, and then add to the pan, or if you’ve opted for the veggie mince instead, just add it straight into the pan.
3. Add the wine, tomatoes and herbs, and give it all a healthy stir. Bring the pan to the boil, then turn down to a medium heat.
4. Finely chop the mushrooms (you’re aiming for them to be very small), then add them to the pan with the gravy granules and spinach and stir it all together.
5. In a smaller pan, heat the oil and flour together to form a paste. Add splashes of milk gradually, stirring all the time. Don’t rush this stage (you don’t want a lumpy mixture). Leave on a low heat for 10 minutes, so your sauce can thicken. Don’t touch it during this stage.
6. Turn your oven on to 180˚C, and find an oven-dish that looks big enough for your mixture, then fill the bottom with a layer of your lentil/mince mix. Layer lasagne sheets on the top, making sure there’s no space between them, then spread some white sauce on top. Repeat (lentil/mince mix, lasagne sheets, white sauce) until you have no lentil/mince mix left, then add a final layer of lasagne sheets and a generous layer of white sauce (usually what you’ll have left over).
7. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and grated cheese liberally over the top (if you’re so inclined – but trust me, its delicious), then stick in the oven for 40 minutes. When your lasagne comes out, it should look golden and crispy.
8. Serve and enjoy.
– Caitlin Barr
Featured Image Source: Pexels