I have always loved lasagna even though I have never eaten any at a restaurant. I've always made my own since my uni days and I guess my hubby is the main culprit for it. Since he does not take beef, finding non-beef lasagna was extremely difficult. So I used to make it for him using minced mutton. But what a chore it was, I made the whole thing from scratch - from the sauce to browning the meat. And added to that, the cost of doing lasagna was so expensive ( it is still cheaper than buying it out, but at about $20-$25 for a pan when we can just make noodles or rice, that's expensive) So, I rarely made it, the last being a good five to six years ago or so.
However, I had some yummy spinach seating at home and I know that a delicious vegetarian lasagna can be made from it. I also had some tomato puree seating around, from doing the vegetarian pizza, so I decided that it would be a good opportunity to use it up. So, I conjured up some sauce with carrots, mushrooms and bell peppers. I wanted to use the spinach... but I realised I had one last yellowing broccoli left. So, I sliced it up nicely and added to the sauce. After some assembling, I finally baked the lasagna and (shamefully) hubby and I demolished the whole pan between us! It was good, but I think there is still room for improvement...
So with the left over spinach, I decided to make noodles with it. I used a ginger and garlic base to make the noodles and all the while I kept thinking of chicken rice. The ginger added such a wonderful flavour to the noodles and reminded me of the fragrant chicken rice which is made with ginger. When I was a non-vegetarian, that one of my fav dishes, so now I have to find a way to recreate it!
Recipe for Vegetarian Lasagna (See notes)
1 bottle of spaghetti sauce
1 carrot diced
1 can of mushrooms, sliced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 onion, diced
2-3 garlic, chopped
1 small head of broccoli, sliced
some dried oregano to taste
some dried basil to taste
some salt to taste
some pepper to taste
some olive oil
1/4 tsp of brown sugar (optional)
Enough Mozzarella cheese to top surface and for layers (about 150g)
Instant lasagna sheets (1 box)
1) In a pot saute diced onions in olive oil. Once brown, add the garlic and brown. Add tomatoes and cook until reduced to puree.
2) Add the vegetables (except broccoli) and saute for a couple of minutes until cooked and soft. Add the spaghetti sauce into the pan. Dilute with a little water if you are using instant sheets. If not don't add water.
3) Add the broccoli last and add seasoning to taste. You might not have to use much depending on the flavouring already present in the sauce.
4) Add a layer of sauce on 9'' by 11'' baking dish. Top it with the instant sheets. Top with another layer of sauce and add some mozzarella cheese. Add another layer of instant sheets. Continue until the sheets are used up.
5) Pour remaining sauce on top and layer generously with Mozzarella cheese.
6) Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil and bake at about 190 degree Celsius for 1/2 hour and remove aluminum foil and bake for another 20 to 30 mins.
1) This is my 1st attempt at vegetarian lasagna. It was okie but is not the best. Please use this as a base recipe and modify from here.
2) I also added mashed firm tofu to mimick egg but I found that it did not taste as well. If you can consume eggs, I suggest adding a mixture of ricotta cheese and egg as as added layer.
3) I used tomato puree instead of spaghetti sauce because that's what I had at home. However, tomato puree has a slightly bitter aftertaste that needs a lot of flavoring to mask it and also needs to seat for about 1/2 hr after cooking to absorb the flavors. So go with the spaghetti sauce.