Lasagne is always a great veggie option and one where it really doesn't feel like the dish is missing that meaty component. There are loads of options for fillings; this one was based on a Jamie Oliver recipe for Butternut and Sweet Leek Lasagne with a few tweaks and additions and it was delicious.
My tweaks (the full recipe with my additions is below, follow the link above for the original recipe):
I only used 2 tins of tomatoes in the sauce instead of 3 because I was trying to read it without my glasses. However I did add a glass of red wine, some tomato puree and a tin of cooked lentils. I threw in a bit of sugar as it tasted a bit acidic, oh and a chopped red pepper (the antipasto type from a jar lurking in the back of the fridge).
I also didn't drain off any of the liquid from the leeks (maybe the frozen spinach doesn't have as much liquid anyway) but I added some butter and cornflour and some milk to make a bit of white sauce in the leeks. I thought some lemon zest would add a nice extra dimension to the creamy leeks, so about 1 tsp of that went in, along with a good grating of nutmeg, which I liked, although the general consensus was to leave out the lemon zest next time.
Jamie Oliver says to cook it without peeling. I wasn't sure about leaving the peel on to bake it; I didnt know you could eat it! It did add a bit of texture, although there was a slightly bitter taste, not entirely unpleasant. I double checked to see if Jamie said to remove the skin after the butternut was baked, but he didn't so I didn't! It certainly speeds up preparing butternut - it's one of those vegetables that I hate peeling. The second time I cooked this, I did remove the peel after I roasted the butternut, which I preferred.
Cheese topping - one quarter (for dad) was left without any veggie hard cheese/grana padana, the rest only had a little as I accidentally grated my finger and gave up on the cheese due to the length of time it took to find and apply a plaster to my finger. The lasagne was cheesy enough anyway (and incidentally no finger scrapings made their way into the lasagne in case anyone was worried). The next time I cooked this, I just sprinkled a little grated mozzarella over the top of the mozzarella chunks, which worked well.
Butternut and Leek Lasagne
- 1 butternut squash (approximately 1kg)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp dried mixed herbs (Italian seasoning, oregano or whatever)
- 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp or to taste sugar
- 1 cooked chopped red pepper (antipasto type from a jar)
- small glass of red wine
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 400g tin green lentils
- 3 - 4 fairly big leeks
- 200g frozen spinach
- 250g ricotta cheese
- 1 tsp lemon zest (optional)
- knob of butter
- 2 tsp cornflour
- 150 ml semi skimmed milk
- 300g dry lasagne sheets
- 1 x 125g ball of mozzarella
- 100g grana padana cheese or other vegetarian hard cheese (or other grated cheese of your choice)
For the butternut squash
- Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5
- Carefully halve the butternut squash, then scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard
- Chop the squash into 3cm chunks, leaving the peel on
- Place the squash in a roasting tray, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper and drizzle well with olive oil, then toss together
- Cook in the hot oven for 45 mins - 1 hour, or until soft and cooked through
For the tomato sauce
- Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves
- Put a saucepan on a medium heat and add a glug of olive oil, the chopped garlic, dried mixed herbs
- Cook for a couple of minutes, softening the garlic but don't let it burn
- Add the tinned tomatoes, wine, lentils, tomato puree and sugar, season with salt and pepper and leave to simmer for 10 minutes.
For the leek mixture
- Trim, wash and finely slice the leeks
- Heat a large deep frying pan on a low heat and add a splash of olive oil and a knob of butter
- Add the leeks and sweat slowly for about 10 minutes, or until soft but not browned
- Add the cornflour and stir around to cook for a few minutes.
- Add the milk and stir over a low heat until thickened
- Add the frozen spinach and cook for another minute or two until defrosted and wilted
- Remove from the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes,
- Mix the ricotta into the pan and season well with nutmeg, salt and pepper (and lemon zest if using)
To assemble the lasagne:
- Spoon a layer of the tomato sauce into the bottom of an ovenproof dish (approximately 25cm by 25cm - I found this amount of mixture made another smaller lasagne, which I froze, uncooked)
- Follow with a layer of lasagne sheets
- Spread half of the creamy leeks over the lasagne sheets and poke in half of the chunks of squash,then top with another layer of lasagne
- Repeat these layers one more time, adding a little of the tomato sauce to the top layer
- Tear the mozzarella into small pieces and dot over the top of the lasagne • Finely grate the Grana Padana or vege hard cheese, if using over the top
- Cover with tin foil and cook in the hot oven for 20 minutes
- After that, remove the foil and cook for another 20 minutes, or until the lasagne is golden and bubbling