Four Cheese Vegetable Lasagne
Posted on March 15th, 2012
Thanks for this recipe goes to Simon Whalley, who calls his version “The Superfruit Mega Vegie Lasagne.” Simon is the owner of the wondrous Superfruit in Ivanhoe, where we get all of our fruits and vegetables, as well as many other good things. I have altered the recipe a bit from the original, which is why I changed the name, but it’s much the same as his version.
What I love about this dish is that it is rich and nuanced in flavour, and most importantly, it is not watery, because you cook the vegetables before assembling the layers. A watery lasagne is not one worth eating, in my opinion.
As with most recipes, the quality of your ingredients will largely determine your outcome, so I recommend fresh vegetables, fresh herbs, good quality cheeses, good quality oil, etc. The kinds of vegetables used, as well as the amounts, can certainly be altered; so go with what best suits your tastes, and good luck with it!
This recipe makes nine generous servings.
One medium eggplant sliced into thin strips lengthways
3 medium red capsicum (aka bell peppers), cut into chunks
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
Several handfuls of fresh baby spinach (a few cups worth)
2 cups of sliced mushrooms (button or Swiss brown)
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 cups of pumpkin (Kent, Jap, or Butternut), chopped into small chunks
1/2 – 1 cup fresh basil, prep by chiffonade *
A few tablespoons olive oil *
700g bottle Passata sauce (tomato puree, just under three cups)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1T sugar, or to taste (optional)
18 lasagne sheets (fresh or instant) *
375g Ricotta, plus 125g cream cheese (or use 500g ricotta only) *
Grated Parmesan or Pecorino (to taste; I used about 2/3 a cup)
250g fresh mozzarella (grated, this was roughly two cups), either coarsely chopped or grated
You will need a large baking pan or dish. Mine was 22×32 centimetres, and 5 centimetres deep. In the U.S., you would use a standard 9×12 inch dish that is approximately 2 inches deep.
1. Pre heat oven to 180C (350F).
2. Pan fry the eggplant and capsicum with a small amount of oil until soft and slightly charred; then set aside.
3. Fry the mushrooms and garlic until soft, then take off the heat and stir through the baby spinach. Season with S & P, then set aside.
4. While you’re cooking the mushrooms, fry the diced onion and pumpkin until the pumpkins softens; then, use a potato masher to partially mash the pumpkin. Stir through the passata along with the basil leaves, season with S&P, to taste, then add sugar (if using) and set aside. You may find it helpful to divide the sauce into four equal portions, or just keep in mind that you will need roughly four equal portions to spread evenly over each of the layers.
5. In a bowl, mix together the ricotta, cream cheese (if using), and grated parmesan.
6. Now you are ready to assemble your lasagne. In your baking dish or pan, spread a thin layer of the sauce over the bottom. Top with slightly over-lapping lasagne sheets.
7. Top with half of the ricotta-cream cheese-parmesan mixture, half of the mushroom and spinach mixture, and half of the eggplant and capsicum mixture; then spoon some of the sauce over this to complete your first layer.
8. Cover your first layer with a second spread of lasagne sheets, followed by the remainder of the vegetables and cheese mixtures, then top with more sauce, as before, to complete your second layer.
9. Cover your second layer with a third spread of lasagne sheets, top with the remaining sauce, and then cover with the shredded or chopped mozzarella.
10. Cover with foil and bake for 30 mins.
11. Uncover and bake for a further 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
Notes for items marked with an *
Note 1: Do not use high heat with olive oil, as it toxifies; medium heat is fine.
Note 2: My lasagne sheets were smallish, so it took six for each layer; but you may need fewer.
Note 3: We love fresh basil, so I used a whole cup of it, but this may overwhelm some tastes. To make a chiffonade of basil, gather several fresh, clean basil leaves and arrange them in a stack. Then, tightly roll the stack across the width of the leaves so the result is a cigar-shaped cylinder. With a very sharp knife, slice thin strips from the stack, slicing in the direction of the roll.
Note 4: Cheese amounts, for Americans – the Ricotta and cream cheese mixture is roughly 1 1/2 cups ricotta, with 1/2 a cup of cream cheese.