Tuesday, 27 October 2009
I have always loved lasagne. Feel free to picture me as a big fat ginger and black-striped cat who answers to "Garfield" if you wish. Also, vegans, you may wish to look away now - epic dairy ahead!
When we first became vegos, I found this amazing recipe which I tried despite it seeming a little bit weird. It is delicious and has served me well, having been my contribution to a Christmas dinner and various other things. While I encourage you all to go and have a bash at that recipe, in the last few months, I've wanted my mum's lasagne.
When I was making the Tempeh Shepherdess Pie from Veganomicon, I had a brainwave (recreated below):
Me: *stirs things*
Brain: You know, you could totally use this technique and make it into bolognese sauce and then make lasagne.
Me: Huh? *stirs*
Brain: Lasagne! Like Mum's!
Me: Yeah, ok, whatever. *chops*
Brain: FOR THE LOVE OF PETE!
Luckily, I listened to my brain and my tempeh lasagne was born!
I think it is pretty damn tasty and a bunch of omni (including Esther's 21 year-old brother) agree. In fact, Jen the carnivore has raved re: my tempeh bolognese. HIGH PRAISE INDEED.
As I write it out, it seems like a long and overly-complicated recipe but it doesn't feel that way when you are making it and, frankly, you get lasagne at the end!
This recipe is dedicated to my mum and to Esther's littlest cousin Samantha who has recently become a vegetarian and loves lasagne.
feeds many and makes a good lunch at work!
for the mince:
1 pkg tempeh
3 glugs of soy sauce
for the mince-y sauce:
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced/diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, grated
1 - 1.5 zucchini, grated
1 big can of tomatoes
misc other vegies (delicious ones I've used in the past - capsicum, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, corn)
for the white sauce:
6 tbsp plain flour
4 tbsp butter
2 cups milk (plus a little bit more)
nutmeg (please grate some yourself - it makes all the difference)
misc other things:
lasagne sheets (I only used one packet this time but sometimes it is 1.5)
2 handfuls of spinach (I used baby spinach this time but silverbeet would also be grand)
cheese of various types - generally speaking, a cheddar/tasty and something bitey like parmesan or pecorino
1. Crumble the tempeh into a deep frying pan over medium-high heat and add the soy and enough water so that it is covered in liquid. Add a slug or two of wine at this stage if you want. Bring to boil and keep there until most of the liquid is absorbed (about ten minutes). Pour into a bowl and put aside.
2. Put the pan back on the heat (turn it down to medium-medium for this bit) and add some oil. Sauté the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes until fragrant and delicious. Add the carrot, celery and zucchini and let that cook away for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add a spoonful or so of tomato paste - I use the squidgy bottle stuff and it is generally about three squirts and let that cook for a minute. Now, add your BIG can of tomatoes, the other veggies, herbs, spices, your tempeh mince that has been waiting patiently for you, an empty tomato can of water or stock and a good slug of wine. Stir and leave to simmer for as long as you like - the longer the better.
4. After about 30 minutes, check on your sauce and see how it's going. It should go from this:
When it looks good, make your white sauce. I stole this technique from The Pioneer Woman's Cauliflower Soup and it hasn't failed me yet. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. In a bowl, whisk the flour into the milk. When the butter is melted, pour the flour/milk mixture in and stir until thick, adding a handful (or more if you like gluttony!) of cheese and some fresh grated nutmeg into the mix. Take off heat and put to one side as you set up the lasagne production line.
5. Spoon enough of the liquid from the tempeh sauce to lightly coat the bottom of the lasagne dish. I don't know if this actually does anything but I like to think so. Layer some lasagne sheets and then layer some tempeh mince. You will probably need to add a bit more milk to make your thickened white sauce easy to pour/spread. Add a third on top of the tempeh. Put a handful of spinach on top. Repeat!
6. When you run out of room in your dish/tempeh, do another layer of sauce and spinach and then one last layer of lasagne sheets. Pour the remaining white sauce on top and then cover with grated cheese.
7. Put into a moderate oven (180C) for half an hour.
8. When done, eat it rest for about ten minutes before serving.
9. Eat. Rub your tummy in glee.