Layers of roasted vegetables, mushroom ragu and pumpkin béchamel sauce make this lasagne seriously special. All the layers do involve a bit of work, so I usually prepare a huge quantity to feed a crowd.
- 3 eggplants (aubergines), cut into 1-cm (½-inch) slabs
- 4 zucchini (courgettes), cut lengthways into 5-mm (¼-inch) slabs
- olive oil, for drizzling
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) lasagne sheets
- 200 g (7 oz) baby spinach leaves
- 125 g (4½ oz/1 cup) grated cheddar (or nutritional yeast)
- 50 g (1¾ oz/½ cup) grated parmesan (or nutritional yeast)
- 300 g (10½ oz) button mushrooms
- 200 g (7 oz) Swiss brown mushrooms
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 brown onion, diced
- 1 carrot, finely diced
- 5 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 700 g (1 lb 9 oz) jar tomato passata (puréed tomatoes)
- 400 g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) pumpkin (winter squash), cut into 3-cm (1¼-inch) cubes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp butter (or vegan margarine)
- 3 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour
- 750 ml (25½ fl oz/3 cups) milk (or nut milk)
- ½ tsp grated nutmeg
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
- To make the ragu, dice the mushrooms and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan, add the onion and carrot and cook over low heat, stirring often, for 15 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium and add the mushrooms, garlic, thyme and basil, cooking for another 5 minutes. Add the passata, tomatoes and seasoning, along with about 125–250 ml (4–8½ fl oz/½–1 cup) water, from rinsing out the passata jar and tomato tin. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce the heat and allow it to bubble for at least 30 minutes, and up to 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Place the pumpkin pieces for the béchamel on a baking tray, drizzle with the olive oil and roast until soft and brown. Mash the pumpkin until smooth, or process in a blender, then set aside.
- While the pumpkin is roasting, spread some of the eggplant and zucchini slices on a separate tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil, season each piece and bake for 20 minutes, or until soft and turning golden. Repeat with all the eggplant and zucchini. (You can also cook them on a grill if you prefer.)
- To make the béchamel, melt the butter in a small saucepan until bubbling. Add the flour and whisk to combine for 1 minute. Slowly pour in half the milk, whisking to combine into a smooth sauce, then slowly whisk in the remaining milk. Continue whisking until the sauce thickens. Add the nutmeg and blended pumpkin. Stir well, then taste and adjust the salt and pepper quantities.
- To assemble the lasagne, spread a few spoonfuls of ragu in the base of a large, deep baking dish. Cover with a single layer of lasagne sheets. Top with another 1-cm (½-inch) layer of ragu, a few handfuls of spinach leaves, a layer of roasted eggplant and zucchini, followed by the béchamel sauce. Layer more lasagne sheets on top.
- Repeat once or twice to make another layer of all the fillings; the number of layers will depend on the size of your dish. Finish the lasagne with pasta sheets and top with a final layer of béchamel sauce.
- Sprinkle the cheddar and parmesan on top and bake for 40 minutes, or until golden. Serve garnished with fresh herbs if desired.
Recipe and images from The Shared Table by Clare Scrine, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99