Rachel shares her love of cooking and her vegetarian lasagna recipe.
“I am reflecting on all the lovely food I have cooked over this festive season for family and friends. There has been much yumminess.
I have simply loved the vegetable lasagna I made using my recently acquired (at Life house for $10) pasta machine. It’s the brand all Nona’s (grandmas) use all over Italy, imperia. When I bought mine it was without its clamp to attach and secure to a table.
Graham came to the rescue, a wonderful engineer who doubles as a member of the Lions Club.Who saw the wonderful Christmas lights at the church? A Lions club initiative.
Rather quickly he fashioned me a clamp and within moments I had my imperia on my pink table outside on the verandah.
I simply love making fresh pasta; the only hard bit is kneading the dough before you roll it.
My basic pasta recipe was inspired by the wonderful book “Dear Francesca” by Mary Contini. Here she uses 2 large eggs for 300g of flour. From years of working on cake recipes, have learnt it is far better to weigh the eggs. Yes it makes all the difference. Professional bakers go one step further and measure ingredients by percentages for their recipes.
Pasta dough is very hard and dry dough. You have to knead it for 30 minutes before you can start the rolling it in the imperia.
I am sure I was an Italian chef in a past (a) life. I have never needed to be taught how to make pasta, I just get it. In minutes I made thin pappadella pasta that I served with a duck ragu with lots of Parmesan cheese. Later and with more time spent with imperia; I made lasagna sheets for ricotta and tomato lasagna for my vegetable-eating friends.”
Lasagna with tomato, ricotta and spinach for eight hungry people.
I know this looks like a lot of ingredients but it really is worth it and once you have made it, it’s done, and you just need to heat it up. Also you can double this recipe and then put one or several small dishes in the freezer.
- 2 Tins Italian tomatoes
- 8 Cloves garlic peeled and finely sliced
- A few sprigs of sage roughly chopped
- Handful of oregano roughly chopped
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 150 ml Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Cheesy white sauce
- 1l Full cream milk
- 40g Flour
- 40g Butter
- 200g Grated Parmesan cheese
- 60g Extra cheese for topping
- Salt and pepper
- 300g flour with 2-egg pasta recipe (ring me or email me if you would like to learn how to make pasta)
- Or 250g Barilla lasagna sheets
- 1k Ricotta
- 300g English spinach, steamed and chopped.
First start with the tomato sauce or if you are going to make your own pasta, you can lay out the sheets to semi dry while you make the rest of the lasagna.
In a medium saucepan fry the garlic in the olive oil, until just melting. Add the tomatoes and all the herbs and two tins of water. Simmer for 1-2 hours until thick red sauce. You may need to add more water during the cooking. Taste and add lots of salt and pepper.
Make the cheesy white sauce first by melting the butter then adding the flour and cooking until pale biscuit colour. Take off the heat and cool. Pour over the milk and bring back to the boil, whisking all the time until thick. Take off the heat and stir in the cheese and seasoning.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, drop the lasagna sheets in and stir. Cook the sheets until just tender, drain and leave in cold water. You can do this with the “no need to cook lasagna sheets”. They are better when you cook them.
Use a large dish-I have a large copper oval baking dish that is approx. 45cm x 35cm or you could use two dishes.
Set oven to 180c
Begin with a layer of lasagna at the bottom, dot blobs of ricotta all over and then add the spinach. Cover with tomato sauce and cheese sauce. Top with another layer of lasagna and then repeat. Finally top with a layer of lasagna and the remaining sauce and sprinkle on top the remaining cheese.
Bake the lasagna for one hour until bubbly brown, then let rest for twenty minutes before serving. Better still, cool the lasagna, reheat the lasagna and cook for a further 30 minutes. It’s the secret lasagna law: its better the next day.