– dry lasagne sheets
– dry lasagne sheets
It’s Monday so it’s number 4 in my lasagne a week challenge, don’t know which is more amazing, that I have eaten lasagne every Monday for 4-weeks and I am still loving it or that I have already been writing this page for four weeks! Tonight’s lasagne is a really simple one, and yet, from two simple ingredients it becomes one of the most delicious and indulgent.
Layer lasagne sheets with a well made bèchamel top that with small size chunks of roasted butternut, and sprinkle each layer with some Gorgonzola and more bèchamel. Make sure you use enough bèchamel or the lasagne might seem dry. To roast the butternut, cut a butternut into chunks, drizzle with olive oil and dot with butter. I add plenty of garlic and fresh thyme. Roast the butternut till crisply charred on the edges, I roast the butternut at around 200°C, so that it chars on the outside whilst still keeping its shape.
I like to get a fair amount of the Gorgonzola on the very top layer to give it a rich finish. Since the butternut and lasagne are both cooked it only takes around 20-25 minutes in a hot oven.
I was serious a week a go when I proposed to produce one lasagne recipe a week for the duration of winter. So here it is, week two and lasagne two, I thought I would change things up a but this week and keep the dish vegetarian. But by using loads of mushrooms the lasagne still delivers a meaty richness, I don’t use a tomato sauce when I make a mushroom lasagne I prefer the creaminess of the mushrooms against but you could use one if you liked. I also use a mix of mushroom, starting with a bulk mixed pack, then portabellini, then wild mushrooms. Allowing the cheaper mushrooms to handle texture and volume while the more flavourful mushrooms give the dish its umph!
You can get the recipe for the bechamél here http://www.thesecretjozichef.co.za/?p=422
Spinach, Mushroom & Ricotta Lasagne
Makes a large tray
– 400gms bulk mixed mushrooms
– 100gms portabellini mushrooms
– 100gms wild mushrooms
– 2 medium red onions
– 3 cloves garlic
– 4 sprigs thyme, plucked and chopped
– 70gms butter + 70gms butter for spinach
– 100 mls brandy
– 4 tbsp olive oil
– 1 dry birds eye chili
– 2tsp finely chopped parsley
– 2 bags baby spinach
– 400gms fresh ricotta
– lasagne sheets
– 1,5 litre bechamél
– 100gms grated parmesan
– 150gms grated mozarella
Prepare your white sauce, now heat a large heavy based saucepan on a high flame. Add the butter for the mushrooms, olive oil, finely chopped garlic, crushed dry birds eye chili, thyme and cook the onions until softened. Now increase the flame to high and add the mushrooms, be careful to not over crowd your pan, you want the mushrooms to develop some colour first. If you put too many mushrooms in the pan, they will broil instead of browning so rather split it into two batches. Once the mushrooms have browned and the brandy and cook until it has reduced, the mushrooms should have some liquid in them but not be too wet. Add the fresh parsley and check seasoning. Once it has cooled slightly stir the ricotta in so that it is nicely combined, check seasoning again.
In a large pot add the washed spinach (if its too much put as much as you can and put the lid on, after a few minutes it will have collapsed allowing you to add more) and place on the heat, once the spinach has wilted remove it and place in a colander to allow it to drain. Press gently with a spoon to remove some, but not all of the water. Now return to the heat and add the butter and stir through, check the spinach for seasoning.
To assemble the lasagne start with a thin layer of bechamél on the bottom of the dish, then a layer of dry lasagne. Top that with half of the mushroom mixture and a 1/4 of the spinach just spread the leaves out loosely, top with bechamél and more dry lasagne and repeat with the rest of the mushrooms, another 1/4 of the spinach and this time add half the parmesan, before adding another layer of lasagne sheets. Top this with some bechamél, the balance of the spinach the rest of the parmesan and half of the mozarella before adding some more bechamél and another sheet of lasagne. Top this with more bechamél and the last of the mozarella, bake in a hot oven for 25-30 minutes until golden and bubbling.
This zesty, fresh and light salad is great to put together as a big platter for a large group, but equally quick and simple to prepare for one person. It is a vegetarian take on traditional carpaccio. Use a mandolin or sharp knife to slice the zucchini finely so that it can pick up the flavours of the dressing.
– 2 medium zucchini
– Juice of ½ lemon
– 3 tbsp Extra Virgin olive oil
– Salt & pepper
– 80g parmesan shavings
– 2 tbsp capers
– 30g rocket
Slice the zucchini finely with a mandolin, don’t worry about peeling it as the skin will add a little crunch. Combine the olive oil and lemon juice and add to the zucchini. Allow to stand for up to 15 minutes, don’t wait longer or the zucchini will become too soft and you want to keep some of the crunch. Lay the zucchini in a single layer on a serving plate, top with the capers, parmesan shavings and rocket. Serve immediately.
Yummy breakfast eggs!
Next time you make a batch of simple tomato sauce make a little extra and store it in your freezer. This is a quick, simple and delicious brunch recipe. You can use a basic tomato sauce or flavour it up depending on how elaborate you want your breakfast to be. Sprinkle crispy pieces of bacon on top, or pan fry some mushrooms and add them to the tomato sauce before you add the eggs.
Heat your tomato sauce in a pan, then drop it to a low simmer. Put your eggs on top and pop the lid on so the eggs cook from underneath and steam from above. Depending on how you like your eggs it should only take a few minutes to cook. Drizzle with some good olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan.
I take the pan to the table and let everyone help themselves, so that once the eggs are all served you have tomato sauce left over to mop up with some crusty bread.
Diet food and salads are synonymous, and frankly diet salads are generally boring and not much fun. I like to load up on varied flavours and textures to keep it as interesting as possible. Today’s salad includes toasted pine nuts, grilled artichokes, ricotta cheese (naturally low fat), Parmesan cheese, rocket, basil, grilled zucchini, roasted cherry tomatoes all dressed with a lemon vinaigrette. Delish!
And remember the pine nuts will help with keeping you feeling fuller for longer due to the pinolenic acid.
All the talk of mushrooms yesterday got me craving some this morning for breakfast.
GARLICKY MUSHROOMS WITH SCRAMBLED EGGS
– 1 clove garlic
– 2tbsp butter
– punnet mixed mushrooms
– 2 tsp finely chopped parsley
– pinch dry chili
– salt & pepper
– 10 eggs
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add half the butter, the crushed garlic and a pinch of chili. Add the mushrooms and pan fry till they have developed a bit of colour, season and add the fresh parsley. Remove from heat, and set aside while you scramble the eggs. Serve piled on top of creamy eggs
Arancini are a southern Italian specialty, the name means little orange which is what they look for once they’ve been fried. Made using leftover cooked risotto, that’s been bound by egg and then dusted in flour, dipped in egg and crumbs and fried till crispy. It’s the perfect way to turn left over flavoured rice into a delicious meal. My favorite is a Smoked Mozarella and White truffle, I love the way smoked Mozarella goes stringy against the hot creamy rice and the crispy crumbed coat.