Villiers (dianavilliers) wrote,

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If Popeye were Italian

Spinach from the vege market this morning. I was inspired to make vege lasagne, which is a complicated and messy thing, using almost every utensil in the kitchen, but delicious enough to be worth it. It freezes well in portion sizes, which is a good thing, because it is almost impossible to make a small one. My version is based on one a flatmate used to make, involving spinach and cottage cheese.

  • Spinach
  • Tomato sauce
  • Assortment of vegetation
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cheese sauce
  • Instant lasagne sheets
  • Tasty cheddar cheese, of the sort that comes as bricks sealed in plastic. This recipe doesn't need the good stuff.
  • Stinky hard Italian style cheese (I'm not saying Parmesan, 'cause I'm using what's left of the Grana, but you get the idea.)
Make the components in this order.................

Tomato sauce
  • tin of tomatoes
  • tbsp of tomato paste
  • aliums of your choice ( an onion, 4 or 5 cloves of garlic, if you like garlic, possibly some leek)
  • dried mixed herbs
  • salt and pepper
  • some water
  • some oil
Slice onion and leek thinly thinly, crush the garlic. Sauté them in the oil. Add the tin of tomatoes, the tomato paste, salt, pepper and herbs. If the tomatoes are whole, mush them up and then simmer it all together until you're ready to assemble the thing. This sauce needs to be pretty runny, because the instant lasagne sheets will absorb a fair amount of liquid, so if it gets too thick, add some water.

Assortment of vegetation. These get layered, so need to be cut fairly small or thin. You need about three or four cups full. I wouldn't suggest using all of the veges below - just use what you have on hand.
  • Carrot. Long strips made with a vege peeler are good, otherwise cut them thinly so the cook through
  • Mushrooms
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Fresh tomato
  • Capsicum (AKA bell pepper)
  • Aubergine
  • Zuchini
  • Pumpkin
  • Anything else you feel like.
Chop the veges up. That bit was easy!

Now is a good time to turn the oven on to preheat. 180 C.

Cheese sauce
  • 4 tbsp soft butter or margarine
  • 1-ish cup grated tasty cheese. It doesn't actually have to be grated, but is easier to measure that way. If you're not too fussed about exact measurements, it's OK just to chop it into smallish lumps.
  • 1/4 cup of stinky Italian cheese
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 2-ish cups milk
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
This is quite a lot of cheese sauce, because you need four layers of it.
Melt the butter or margarine in a small saucepan. Add the flour and stir for about a minute. Remove it from the heat and stir in the milk, quickly before you get lumps. Return the saucepan to heat and stir until the sauce thickens. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and add the cheese. Stir until the cheese melts. Again, make it runny. Add more milk if necessary.

  • Spinach
  • Fish sauce
Strip the stalks off the spinach. Wash the leaves and put them into a large bowl - leave them wet. Sprinkle fish sauce over the top and toss it through. You can leave the fish sauce out if you are a strict vegetarian. Microwave the spinach for about 2 minutes, to soften and wilt it. It should about halve in volume.


In a 20x30x6 cm ovenproof dish

For n = 1 to 3 do
  • layer wilted spinach
  • layer tomato sauce
  • dot some cottage cheese around
  • layer assorted veges
  • layer cheese sauce
  • layer lasagne sheets. Push the lasagne down firmly, until the sauce squishes up between the sheets.
Next n

Cover everything with the rest of the cheese sauce (There is a "rest of the cheese sauce", right?). Be careful to cover the lasagne sheets completely , or they will stay dry, won't cook properly and may burn. Grate lots of tasty cheese over the top, and a bit of stinky Italian cheese too. Bake according to the lasagne instructions - usually about 30 to 40 minutes.

Makes about 8 - 10 servings.

Almost everything in this recipe is a bit optional. I'd say the essential components are the spinach, the tomato sauce, the lasagne and the topping cheese. If I left the assorted veges out, I'd use extra spinach and If I left the cheese sauce out, I'd replace it with extra tomato sauce. The no cheese sauce version would be quite a different thing, but still good.

I think that almost took longer to type than to make.

Tags: cookery, vegetation
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