Vegetarian Lasagne - a Recipe

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Some onions.

This is a fairly easy recipe for making lasagne suitable for vegetarians (and it can be adapted for vegans). If you use a whole bag of frozen veggie mince this will feed 10-15 people. With veggie mince it's all about adding in layers of flavour to avoid a bland taste. You will need a very large baking tin for this, such as a large turkey tin.

Ingredients

  • 2 packets of pre-cooked type of lasagne sheets

For the filling:

  • 1 bag (1lb/450g) of frozen vegetarian mince (available from supermarkets or health food stores)
  • 2 15oz (400g) tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 medium-sized onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • Oil for frying
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • Soy sauce
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh or dried herbs (oregano and basil)
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • Red wine (optional)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

For the sauce:

  • 1lb (450g) cheese, grated
  • 1-1½pt (600-900ml) whole milk
  • 2oz (50g) butter or margarine
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour or wholemeal self-raising flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

For the mince filling:

  • Pre-heat oven to Gas Mark 6, 400°F or 200°C.
  • Heat oil in a wok or very large saucepan.
  • Fry the finely chopped onion and grated or chopped garlic.
  • Add the bag of mince.
  • Toss until all coated with oil and browning.
  • Add vinegar, soy sauce, salt and pepper, herbs, stock cubes, sugar and tomato puree. Mix well.
  • Add tinned tomatoes.
  • Add in about a pint of water. Stir and turn down the heat.
  • Simmer. Some types of veggie mince absorb water so you might have to keep adding more water to stop the mixture from burning or getting too thick.

While this is cooking make the cheese sauce:

  • Melt the butter or margarine in a fairly large saucepan.
  • Take off the heat. Blend in the flour or cornflour with a little of the milk until a smooth consistency is reached.
  • Add the rest of the milk and return to a low heat. Stir all the time until it starts to thicken. Stir faster to avoid lumps!
  • When it has bubbled for a few minutes, add about half the cheese and the salt and pepper. Add more milk if necessary to thin it but don't make it too runny.
  • Turn off the heat and set the sauce aside until the mince is done.

Composition:

  • Line the bottom of the tin with lasagne sheets1.
  • Add a layer of mince and a thin layer of cheese sauce.
  • Add another layer of lasagne and so on until you have used all components, making sure you leave enough lasagne sheets for the top and sauce to cover it.
  • Spread the rest of the cheese on top.
  • Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.

For Vegans and Wheat- and/or Dairy-intolerant People

Use soya milk and a dairy-free cheese substitute for the sauce, or make a white sauce with soya milk and add a vegetable stock cube.

Use wheat-free lasagne sheets, available from health food stores or supermarkets.

Instead of veggie mince made from wheat, make a big pan of chopped mixed veg and canned tomatoes with Italian herbs, balsamic vinegar, a teaspoon of sugar, salt and pepper. Use this in layers with the wheat-free lasagne and soya white sauce.

1Tip: Add some water to the dish before putting in the first layer of pasta. Otherwise the bottom layer often gets harder than the ones above because there isn't any liquid underneath.

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