Vege Lasagne

Monday, May 24, 2010

food painting for the vegetarian cookbook by Fiona Morgan
Homely. Filling. Versatile. Cheesy.


Food painting artwork

30 x 30cm oil on canvas. Inspired by the wonderful modernist Australian artist Margaret Preston. She is best known for her woodcuts but I also really like her stencilled paintings of 1953. Such rich and Australian colours. Such patterned linework. Such enjoyable brush texture.

By the way, all the food painting artwork is available to own in the Official Art Store.


The meatless meals recipe

One weekend we had some friends come up to stay. The plan was to go for a long hike during the day and have dinner together afterwards. So Simon cooked his favourite meal, which is this vege lasagne, ahead of the weekend as we knew we'd be too tired to cook after a day of walking through the bush. It was only after our friends arrived that we remembered that one is both a genuine Italian and a raving carnivore who loathes vegetables. But there was no time to prepare a new meal once they'd arrived. We were terrified to present such a signature Italian dish to an Italian. And a bastardised vegetarian version at that! 

So what happened? Our raving carnivore Italian friend loved this lasagne and went back for seconds and wanted the recipe and proclaimed it was even better than the one his mother makes! Not bad...

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, finely diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 medium zucchini, finely diced
250g mushrooms, finely diced
8 cloves garlic, peeled
700g tomato
1 small onion
30g fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
1 cup dry sherry or white wine
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
40g grated parmesan
35g butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups or 500ml milk
dry lasagne sheets
baking dish 18x28cm or 7x11 inches

Preheat your oven to 190 C
Put the medium onion, carrot, zucchini and mushroom in a fry pan with the olive oil and cook until soft. Make sure it doesn't get crisped.
While the above is cooking, put the garlic, tomato and small onion into a blender and puree.
When the veges are thoroughly cooked, add the puree to the pan and the fresh basil leaves and half the sherry or wine too.
Simmer until reduced to a medium thickness. You don't want it to be too thick as some liquid is needed to cook the dry lasagne sheets. Better to be too thin than too thick.
Put the liquid from the sauce into the bottom of the baking dish. Try and avoid putting veg in this layer as they only burn.
Then add the first layer of lasagne sheets.
Divide the sauce into three and spread a third on the lasagne. Follow this with half a cup of mozzarella and a light sprinkling of parmesan.
Add another layer of lasagne sheets.
Repeat the sauce, cheese, sheets step twice more so that you have three layers of sauce and cheese. At the end of this step you should have bare lasagne sheets ready for the final topping which is a thick and cheesy white sauce:
Melt the butter in a pot and add the flour. 
Mix into a dough and take off the heat.
Add a little milk and stir until the milk is fully absorbed. 
Repeat until the first cup of milk is used.
Return to the heat. Stir continuously and slowly add the remaining milk. A whisk instead of a spoon is handy here.
Then slowly add the remaining sherry or wine. 
Keep stirring. The sauce will thicken gradually.
When the sauce is nicely thick, add the remaining cup of mozzarella.
Pour all this cheese sauce on top of the lasagne. Mmmm. Lots of cheesy goodness.
Put the completed lasagne in the oven for about an hour. It is done when the pasta is cooked and the top is golden.
Remove from the oven when done and let it stand for 10 minutes. This makes it much easier to cut and serve.

Feeds 6-8 people.

When you've made this a few times, try experimenting with using other vegetables or adding chilli etc as it's a very versatile recipe.


More vegetarian cookbook goodies

Need help with conversions? Download this handy dandy pdf of cooking conversion charts for every cooking measuring system I could find. It should make your life easier.

Want to check out more vegetarian dinner recipes? They're all in the Table of Contents.

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