I love Puy Lentils. If you are a non-vegetarian who wants to cook for vegetarian friends and doesn’t know where to start Puy Lentils are fantastic, because you can substitute them in for minced beef in familiar dishes and get something which has a slightly ‘meaty’ texture and quite a rich, almost nutty, taste. As well as being great in lasagne they are also rather good in Chilli and in Bolognaise.
Puy lentils come either dried or cooked in bags (a little bit like microwave rice) and I tend to have both in my storecupboard; dried lentils are much cheaper but the ready-cooked ones are much better if you are in a hurry!
This yummy lasagne fed two adults and two children. I had thought that there might be enough left for my lunch the next day, but no such luck!
for the lasagne…
- one or two cloves of garlic
- a medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ground black pepper
- 1 tin of tomatoes
- a generous squirt of tomato purée
- 1 microwave bag of Puy Lentils
- a good splash of red wine (I used frozen wine again)
- Dried lasagne sheets (approx 1/2 a pack)
- approx 3/4 pint of milk
- heaped tablespoon of cornflour
- approx six mushrooms, sliced
- two generous handfuls of grated cheese
for the winter salad…
- 1/4 of a red cabbage
- 2 or 3 carrots
- good olive oil
- a splash of lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 180oC.
Fry the onions, garlic, ground black pepper and oregano in olive oil (not fancy olive oil if you have it – save that for the salad!). When the onions are beginning to become transparent add the tinned tomatoes, the wine, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the puy lentils. Allow to heat through and reduce a little (5-10 minutes), taste and add more salt and pepper if required.
While the above is cooking get started on the white sauce. First, heat the milk slowly in a pan. Put a heaped tablespoon of cornflour in a measuring jug with a little extra milk to make a paste, trying your best to ensure that it is lump free. Next, and this is important, add the warm milk to the paste (not the other way around!), mix well and then put it back into the pan to heat through and thicken. Keep an eye on it and stir frequently, and when it has started to thicken add half of the grated cheese. When the cheese has melted set the sauce to one side.
Now it is time to layer up the lasagne. Put half of the tomato mixture into the bottom of a rectangular dish and cover with a layer of lasagne sheets; you may need to break up one of the sheets into smaller pieces to cover it evenly. Next, put the sliced mushrooms on top of the lasagne sheets and cover with half of the white sauce and a generous grind of black pepper. Cover with another layer of lasagne sheets, add the rest of the tomato mixture and then add a final layer of the lasagne sheets. Finally, top with the rest of the white sauce, the cheese and more black pepper. Put in the top of the pre-heated oven for 30 – 40 minutes. To check if it is done, put a skewer in it and if you only get a little bit of resistance you are good to go.
For the salad; chop the red cabbage (half way between chunky and fine if that makes sense!) and use the biggest bit of your cheese grater to finely slice the carrot. Be very careful not to grate your knuckles! Put in a dish with a generous slosh of olive oil, a squirt of lemon juice, a good few grinds of pepper and a couple of pinches of sea salt. Try. Add more lemon, salt and pepper if you think it would improve it. Simples!