Tucking in to a delicious vegetarian meal is not everyone’s first choice, but it is good for your health as well as the planet’s health. And our Great Glen Vegetarian Lasagne is a delicious meat-free choice too. There are a lot of steps to making this tasty vegetarian lasagne, and it can be a bit fiddly so I recommend making a bigger quantity so you have at least another whole lasagne to freeze for the future (like we do at Eagle Brae, except we make around 15 at a time!). It’s worth all the hard work though as one of our lovely guests recently pointed out:
“We had the Veggie Lasagne and it was AMAZING! Don’t leave without trying it – so savoury and utterly scrummy.”
- Lentilles vertes (green lentils, or even better Puy lentils, 300g)
- Tinned tomatoes (I tin)
- Onion (1 large, chopped finely)
- Garlic (4 cloves, crushed)
- Dried chilli flakes (to taste)
- Vegetable stock (home-made or vegetable bouillon, half litre)
- Olive oil (2 tbsp)
- Bay leaves (3)
- Fresh thyme (small bunch tied together with cooking string as a bouquet garni)
- Salt (to taste)
- Black pepper (half tsp)
- Spinach (one bag fresh, half a bag frozen)
- Leeks (two, chopped)
- Lasagne sheets (as required, probably about 250g)
- Butter (100g)
- Flour (1 heaped tbsp)
- Milk (as required, probably about half a pint)
- Parmesan cheese (enough for a light dusting on top, finely grated)
- Mature cheddar cheese (150g, grated)
- The Green Lentils Mix
First things first, you need to make your vegetarian ‘mince’ which is primarily made up of the delicious green lentils. But before you can get your veggie ‘mince’ underway, you need to put two other pans to work! Put your stock on the hob to heat it up, ready for use later. Put another pan of water on to boil so that you can parboil your lasagne sheets – add a little salt and oil to the water. In a third pan, gently fry your onions for 5 minutes or until softened.
While your stock heats up, your water comes to the boil and your onions sizzle away, rinse your green lentils in a sieve with cold water. Add the garlic to your onions and stir well for about a minute. Add in the rinsed lentils and stir well. After about another minute or so add in the stock so that it just covers the lentil mix. Add the dried chilli flakes, the bay leaves and the thyme and let your lentils simmer with a lid on for 25 minutes. Make sure your lentil mix doesn’t dry out as the lentils absorb the stock. Add more stock if necessary.
While your lentils simmer, wilt your spinach with a tiny bit of water, butter and salt in a separate shallow pan. Continue to cook until all the water has cooked off. Finally, after your lentils have cooked away for 25 minutes, add the tin of tomatoes as well as some salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 10 minutes. Add in the leeks and cook for 10 minutes more until the leeks are just cooked. You want your green lentils mix to be the right consistency to be your lasagne ‘mince’, so if it’s too runny cook off the excess moisture. If it is too dry add some more stock. Once ready, set aside off the heat with the lid on.
Now a lot of people will put dry lasagne sheets into a lasagne straight out of the packet. Many of the packets recommend you cook it like this. But we prefer to parboil ours because the lasagne sheets are much nicer fully swollen in the lasagne. It also means you won’t have to cook your vegetarian lasagne so long in the oven that it might dry out just to cook the sheets through. You don’t want them to stick together so you can’t just put them in the pan together. So here is Eagle Brae’s wacky method of parboiling lasagne sheets.
Take a sheet of tinfoil and cut a strip a metre or so long (big enough to fold up your lasagne sheets inside). Before adding your lasagne sheets, fold the tinfoil and make holes in it with an office hole-punch. Then fold again and re-punch. Do this again and again until your tinfoil is too small to fold or punch again. Then open it up and add the lasagne sheets. After each lasagne sheet fold the tinfoil over so no two sheets are touching each other. The holes you punched will ensure water circulates inside every sheet. Add the whole bundle to your boiling water and cook for about 7 minutes. Once done, take off the heat, and pour away about 90% of the water leaving 10% in the bottom to keep moist and warm with the lid on.
Add your butter to yet another pan and melt gently. Once melted, add the flour and stir thoroughly. Cook for a minute or so until all the flour has blended with the butter. Keep stirring as you add around a quarter of your milk to the flour/butter blend, turning the heat up a little. Your mix should thicken and dry up. Keep stirring and slowly add more milk. Continue this process until all your milk is added and there are no lumps. Add the grated Cheddar and stir until all the cheese is melted. If your sauce is too runny add more milk. Remember it continues to thicken up to simmering point, so don’t assess the thickness of your sauce until it is almost at simmering point. Add a little salt to your sauce, stir and leave on the lowest possible heat. Keep going back to stir your sauce until you are ready to use it.
Remove the bay leaves and the thyme from your lentils mix and put a nice layer down in the bottom of a suitable lasagne dish. Add some wilted spinach on top, followed by a layer of lasagne pasta and béchamel sauce on the very top. Add another layer of lentils mix on top of the béchamel sauce and repeat the layering process until the dish is full. Make the béchamel sauce the top and final layer and use more sauce on the top than you have for lower layers. Sprinkle the parmesan over the top and now your Eagle Brae Great Glen Vegetarian Lasagne is ready for either the oven or the freezer! To cook in the oven, cook at 180 degrees for about half an hour or until starting to brown on top.
This is an incredibly tasty dish and popular even amongst folk who think they don’t like vegetarian food! Great with a nice fresh green salad. Enjoy!