I have a soft spot for Italian food. The depth of flavour and the warmth to Italian cooking is something that appeals to me at the most basic level. It is comfort food that can be eaten for every season. Now lets completely turn that on its head and take away the meat. My Italian cousins will disown me, but I really want you to give this vegetarian lasagne a try. It is easy to make, a slow-cooker friendly recipe and it is full to the brim of green goodness from spinach and leek!
3 large leeks
4 -5 fists full of spinach (chopped)
1 tub of ricotta
3-5 large cloves of garlic
Basil (I used dried, but 6 leaves of fresh is better)
1 tin of black eyed beans or chickpeas
Your favourite strong cheddar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Lets Get To It
Start by frying your onion and garlic on a low heat in a little butter. Add the leek and allow it to soften for 2-3 minutes. While this is cooking, chop your spinach (this stops it getting stringy within the mix and allows you to portion the lasagne neatly).
Add the spinach and then the beans or chickpeas. Allow the spinach to sweat. You will see it begin to melt away into the mix. I sometimes like to add a nice dash of white wine here and turn the heat up to burn the alcohol of before I add the ricotta. Turn the heat down and stir the ricotta into the mix.
Once the mix is cooked through, you can start building your lasagne.
Pour some passata into the base of your bowl and layer lasagne sheets on top of the sauce. Spoon your mix on top of the sheets, cover with another layer of lasagne and add a sprinkle of parmesan. Pour more passata on top.
Continue to do this until the dish is full. For the final layer, pour the passata and sprinkle with a layer of your favourite cheddar. Alternatively, use fresh mozzarella. I personally prefer the cheddar for this recipe.
Depending on the type of lasagne sheets you use, cooking times will vary.
Make sure to cover with tinfoil for the first 30 minutes of cooking to avoid drying out the lasagne.
I like to toast some pine nuts and sprinkle over the top of this dish as I serve it. We have also successfully served this dish as a vegetable side and used a punnet of chopped cherry tomatoes in the layering with the passata. I hope you enjoy making it (its one that you can definitely get the kids involved in!).
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