Monday, 2 February 2015

Butternut and Leek Lasagne

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
  • nutmeg
  • 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

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5
  2. Carefully halve the butternut squash, then scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard
  3. Chop the squash into 3cm chunks, leaving the peel on
  4. Place the squash in a roasting tray, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper and drizzle well with olive oil, then toss together
  5. Cook in the hot oven for 45 mins - 1 hour, or until soft and cooked through

For the tomato sauce

  1. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves 
  2. Put a saucepan on a medium heat and add a glug of olive oil, the chopped garlic, dried mixed herbs 
  3. Cook for a couple of minutes, softening the garlic but don't let it burn
  4. 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

  1. Trim, wash and finely slice the leeks 
  2. Heat a large deep frying pan on a low heat and add a splash of olive oil and a knob of butter 
  3. Add the leeks and sweat slowly for about 10 minutes, or until soft but not browned
  4. Add the cornflour and stir around to cook for a few minutes.
  5. Add the milk and stir over a low heat until thickened
  6. Add the frozen spinach and cook for another minute or two until defrosted and wilted 
  7. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes,  
  8.  Mix the ricotta into the pan and season well with nutmeg, salt and pepper (and lemon zest if using)

To assemble the lasagne:

  1. 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) 
  2. Follow with a layer of lasagne sheets 
  3. 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
  4. Repeat these layers one more time, adding a little of the tomato sauce to the top layer
  5.  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 
  6. Cover with tin foil and cook in the hot oven for 20 minutes 
  7. After that, remove the foil and cook for another 20 minutes, or until the lasagne is golden and bubbling 

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