Lasagne has always been one of my favourite foods. I loved it when my mother cooked it when I was little and I now love making it for my own children.
It’s not a quick dish to prepare though. In fact I used to think it was a bit of a faff. But these days, when I’m juggling work and family, it’s one of the meals I’ll make once the kids are tucked up in bed and I have the kitchen to myself, generally listening to Jo Whiley on Radio 2, all ready to eat the following evening. There’s nothing nicer than getting back from work and simply having to pop supper in the over and it’s all done.
We’re trying to eat less meat in our house. It’s partly to save money, partly for environmental reasons and partly to eat more healthily. And this is one of those vegetarian alternative meals where you really don’t miss the meat. It’s packed with big bold flavours and the aubergine and courgette give it lots of substance.
Because this meal is such a favourite with my clan, I’m submitting the recipe to The Pink Whisk Challenge, which is dedicated to raising awareness of Save the Children and the Hidden Hunger campaign.
Save the Children is asking everyone to Name a Day, a day when they will do just one thing to help save children’s lives. And they are asking David Cameron to do the same. It is a terrible fact that we live in a world with enough food for everyone, yet hunger is still able to kill 7,000 children every day. Can you help Save the Children put an end to this Hidden Hunger?
All the recipes gathered for the Pink Whisk Challenge will be collated and published in a Save the Children e-book to be sold to raise awareness and funds for the campaign. Do you have a family favourite to add? Please do. You have until 31 March 2012. Full details over at The Pink Whisk.
Use lots of fresh rosemary and keep the vegetables nice and chunky
Roast vegetable lasagne
For the roast vegetables
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
3 courgettes, chopped diagonally into thick slices
2 aubergines, chopped into large chunks
1 red and 1 green pepper, deseeded and sliced
6 cloves of garlic, skins removed
handful of cherry tomatoes
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
salt and pepper
For the cheese sauce
40g plain flour
100g Cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper
For the tomato sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 x 400g tins chopped plum tomatoes
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
250g lasagne sheets
Extra grated cheese for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 200°C/gas 6.
Begin by roasting your vegetables. Place them all in a large roasting tray along with the rosemary and garlic. Season generously with salt and pepper, pour over some olive oil and toss together to cover the vegetables well. Roast in the oven for around 40 minutes, turning the vegetables halfway through, until they are tender and beginning to brown.
The roast vegetables with garlic and rosemary smell sensational
While the vegetables are roasting prepare the two sauces.
The tomato sauce is very simple. Fry the onions in the olive oil until golden. Add the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar and stir together. Simmer gently for around 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Season to taste.
A very simple tomato sauce
For the cheese sauce, place the butter, flour and milk in a saucepan. Whisk over a gentle heat until it has thickened. Then stir in grated cheese until it has melted into the sauce. Again, season to taste.
When the vegetables are roasted, place a layer of these in the bottom of a large ovenproof dish. (Mine isn’t particularly large so I use a medium sized one and a small one.) Make sure you pull out the thick rosemary stalks. Nobody likes chewing on twigs.
Pour some tomato sauce over the vegetables and then cover with a layer of lasagne sheets. Repeat this process until you have filled your dish, ending with a layer of vegetables and then sauce.
Now pour over the cheese sauce. I like to wiggle the dish from side to side a little to make sure the cheese sauce seeps down the sides and through all the cracks.
Finally scatter some grated Cheddar cheese over the top. Place in the oven for about 30 minutes until the cheese is browned and bubbly and a knife inserted goes easily through the pasta.
Perfect served with a salad and some homemade garlic bread.
Who can resist the molten cheese on top of a big bowl of lasagne?