It brings me great joy to serve my family and friends and observe expressions of delight upon their faces as we share a meal around my dinner table.
Serving family favourite meals, provides comfort and fulfilment as they bring people together. I like taking these opportunities to ‘healthify’ many of these family favourites to boost the nutritional content of the meal.
Cooking for a large family or group of people, it is important to me that the meals are delicious, nutritious and economical.
I like to use pantry and fridge staples as we don’t always have time to plan ahead nor go to the grocery store. These items are also budget friendly and more sustainable as we are reducing waste by using and adding in what we have on hand.
Staples I like to keep in the pantry include
· Dried Legumes (lentils, beans and chickpeas – be sure to soak prior to cooking)
· Pasta and/or Lasagne Sheets
· Liquid Vegetable Stock
· Passata (Tomato Puree)
· Mixture of Herbs and Spices
· Potatoes, Onions and Garlic
This Lentil and Mushroom Lasagne tastes amazing and is so versatile, you can add the vegetables you prefer and have on hand. It is a fibre rich, delicious comforting meal.
We served ours with mixed salad greens and thinly sliced pear with pomegranate molasses, olive oil and lemon juice dressing.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions finely diced
6 large cloves of crushed garlic
3 large carrots finely diced
500g mushrooms peeled and thinly sliced
3 cups of cooked brown lentils (you can use canned, drained and rinsed)
700g jar of tomato passata
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons of dried mixed herbs
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (leaves peeled off and stems discarded)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 packet of large lasagne sheets (wholemeal for additional fibre)
Bechamel Sauce Ingredients
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons of flour
2.5 cups of milk
3 large handfuls of grated cheese (reserve 1 handful for topping)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Add olive oil to the pan on medium heat
Add diced onion and stir
Cook 3 minutes or until almost caramelised
Add garlic, stir in and cook until just fragrant, 1 minute
Add carrots and stir. Cook for 1 minute whilst stirring
Turn heat to low
Cook for 3 minutes stirring occasionally
Add the sliced mushrooms and stir
Cook on low for five minutes, until all the flavours are combined and sweat off
Add the lentils and stir
Add in herbs and salt. Stir in
Pour in the passata and water
Stir to combine
Bring to the boil and then lower heat to simmer
Simmer for 10-15 minutes until sauce thickens and combines
Add salt to taste
Turn off heat.
Add butter to a saucepan and melt
Remove melted butter from heat. Slowly add in the flour and stir until all the flour has mixed with the butter
Add back to low heat and stir the butter/flour mixture for 2 minutes
Remove from heat and gradually pour the milk in
Whisk to combine. Return to low heat and whisk until smooth
Whisk continually as mixture will thicken
Stir in 2 large handfuls of grated cheese
Turn off heat. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is nice and smooth and thickened.
Layer the lasagne
Add 2 ladles of lentil mixture to the bottom of a baking dish
Add lasagne sheets on top
Then ladle more lentil mixture in top
Add lasagne sheets
Add more lentil mixture until it is finished
Add layer of lasagne on top
Top with béchamel sauce
Add a large handful of cheese on top.
Bake in oven at 160 degrees for 30 minutes.
Then turn oven to 180 for 15 minutes until cheese is just browned and bubbling on top.
Leave to cool for 10 minutes before slicing so it holds together.
You can easily make gluten free, by using gluten free lasagne sheets (Latina Fresh). Remember to replace the flour in the béchamel with an all-purpose gluten free flour or buckwheat flour.