Lasagne may be the unquestionable queen of pasta dishes – at least in my humble opinion -, but let’s face it, in a line-up of beauty contestants, she’ll absolutely never manage to take the first prize home. Though profoundly pleasing to the palate, when it comes down to looks, her broad and ordinary features may, at first, lure the unknowing observer into classifying her as a modest meal. Quite unjustifiedly so! This is fine comfort food that deserves all the attention it can get.
So whereas I am fully aware that the below pictures in all their plainness may far for being tantalising (my husband just called them appalling): please, give this dish a fair chance.
I usually cook up a lasagne with whichever ingredients I have at hand – and this time the entire dish revolved around an eggplant of which the formerly tight skin had in recent days started to lose some of its elasticity. Time to move it from the fridge to the cutting board. Since eggplant pairs well with basil and walnuts, that’s what I added too, as well as lentils (poor vegans – they need their proteins, right?). I dare say this experiment was a success: clear plates in record time.
For the eggplant sauce
- 1 onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 cup walnuts (finely chopped) + 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1 (small) eggplant (finely chopped)
- 1/2 cup red lentils (ideally use red lentils that are not split, because those will have a better bite)
- 2 medium-sized carrots (yes, I’m starting to repeat myself: also finely chopped)
- 3 cups passata (a 750 ml bottle)
- 1/2 cup oil-packed half sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 tbsp ketchup (I know, ketchup! The most ordinary of ingredients! – I think it adds to the flavour, but if the idea of ordinary ketchup would upset you, you can substitute this by agave syrup or another type of sugar of your choice 🙂 )
- 1/4 cup non-dairy cream (soy cream, oat cream, cashew cream, …)
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp cumin (optional)
- 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
- salt and black pepper
For the bechamel sauce:
- 4 – 6 tbsp plant oil or vegan margarine
- 2/3 cup flour (I always use spelt)
- 1 1/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 1 1/4 cup vegetable stock
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- salt, black pepper and nutmeg
For the topping:
Grated vegan cheese of your choice (I used a blend of cheezly mozarella and grated Wilmersburger), or some homemade vegan cashew parmezan, almond meal, or pine nuts.
Of course you’ll also need egg-free lasagne sheets. I used a variety with spinach.
How to proceed:
- Fry the onion until translucent, then add the walnuts, garlic and vegetable broth.
- After a couple of minutes, add the eggplant and carrots, fry some more.
- Rinse the red lentils and add them to the frying pan, together with the passata and the remaining ingredients.
- Let the sauce simmer, and in the meantime, prepare the bechamel sauce (you know, melt the margarine, add the flour, stir in the liquid ingredients, and try to avoid lumps at all cost. If you fail at the latter, don’t worry, an immersion blender can easily solve this.)
- Layer the sauce in an oven-proof dish (eggplant sauce – lasagne sheets – bechamel sauce – lasagne sheets – etc…)
- Top with any vegan cheese of your choice
- Bake in a pre-heated oven (see also directions on your package of lasagne sheets) – I baked my lasagne at a temperature of ca. 200 degrees C for about 25 minutes.