Lentil Ragu & Chestnut Mushroom Lasagna

For me, Lasagna has always been about sitting down with a group of loved ones and sharing the experience. Maybe because my mumma used to make it for the family on Christmas eve. Maybe because I have fond memories of one summer spent at a cooking school in Sorrento, Italy. Either way, lasagna is best eaten with others and has for as long as I can remember been one of my favourite dishes!

It’s easy to replicate the beef in a traditional lasagna with lentils or walnuts or even mince made from vegetable protein. However, most become baffled when it comes down to finding an alternative way to make a classic bechamel sauce.

See I love making cheesy sauces! Cheesy sauces with cashews. Cheesy sauces with walnuts. Cheesy sauces with tofu and miso and nutritional yeast. But this time round, I really want to imitate the classic bechamel that is made with flour, milk and butter. I knew through baking that coconut oil worked perfectly fine as a substitute to butter in most recipes, and I was sure that changing the type of flour I used and switching up dairy milk for a plant based milk would work perfectly fine too. As long as I got those flavours on point! I’m proud to say that the first time I trialled this recipe was a success!

Don’t feel that you have to use the vegetables I suggest in this recipe. Play around with whatever veggies you have leftover in the fridge if you like. Whilst mushroom can give off a bit of liquid once cooked, I couldn’t imagine a lasagna without them personally. Try adding them to the ragu just before you layer the lasanga up for the oven, if that’s something that bothers you.

You’ll see that I talk about spelt quite a lot in this recipe! Wondering what spelt is? It’s a grain that technically isn’t gluten free, however people whom don’t tolerate gluten very well can often tolerate spelt. I actually prefer the taste of spelt flour. It is slightly sweeter (if you buy white spelt flour), and it actually makes cakes rise better when used in baking! I made a batch of spelt soda bread once, and was surprised by how much it had risen in the oven!

Anyways, lets get cracking shall we! I hope y’all enjoy…

Yields: 4 people

Time: 1 hour prep. 30 minutes in the oven.

 

Ingredients*

The Ragu:

  • 1 cups cooked (3/4 cup uncooked) green puy lentils
  • 1 cans of tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato puree
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 – 8 medium mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 courgettes, sliced in quarters
  • 1 red peppers, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 vegan bouillon stock cube/ 1 Tsp. vegan bouillon stock powder
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut sugar
  •  2 Tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 Tsp. cumin
  • 2 Tsp. dried oregano
  • Seasoning (to taste)

The Bechamel:

  • 60g coconut oil
  • 50g spelt flour
  • 500ml soya (or rice milk) + more if needed
  • 1 Tsp. wholegrain mustard
  • 1/4 Tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 Tsp. Himalayan (or sea) salt
  • Lots of black pepper

The Pasta:

  • 1 pack spelt lasagna sheets (I used the biona brand)

 

Method*

Lentil Ragu:

  1. Rinse the lentils, place them in a saucepan, and cover with cold water at least ¾ of the way up. Bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 – 20 minutes.

 

  1. Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil in a wide and deep sauce pan. When hot enough, throw in the onion and allow them to sweat on a low heat whilst you chop the rest of the veg. When the onions are softened, throw in the garlic, and cook for a further two minutes.

 

  1. Add the peppers and courgettes to the sauce pan, followed by the mushrooms 5 minutes later. Stir consistently to coat the vegetables in each other’s juices.

 

  1. Now chuck in all of the remaining spices, herbs, vinegars and sweeteners. Stir thoroughly, reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid, and allow to cook for as long as possible whilst you prepare everything else.

 

Béchamel Sauce:

  1. In a deep saucepan, begin to melt the coconut oil over a low heat. Once melted, stir in the flour making sure there are no lumps in the current mixture.

 

  1. Bit by bit, stir in the soya milk, whisking consistently so that the sauce doesn’t become too thick and lumpy. Half way through the process, season the sauce with the mustard, nutmeg, black pepper, and salt. Continue to season to taste and whisk the sauce until a desired consistency is met.

 

To Assemble:

  • Pre heat your oven to Gas 6/ 200C/ 400F

 

  • Lightly grease a large lasagne dish

 

  • Add a layer of lentil ragu to the bottom of the dish, followed by a layer of the béchamel sauce, followed with 5 spelt pasta strips (or enough to cover the first layer)

 

  • Repeat the above step until all of the food is used up. Make sure you reserve enough béchamel sauce for the top layer so that it bursts with oozy joy!

 

  • Place your prepared lasagne in to your preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the over, and feel free to scatter a few fresh basil leaves over the top to make it look extra pretty!