Saturday, 28 May 2011

National Vegetarian Week (NVW) Recommended Recipe

The wonderful @tokaipenny has sent me a recipe for today's recommendation that's suitable for NVW 2011 but is actually vegan.

Vegan Lasagne

I don't have a written down recipe for this, so I'm going to have to wing it - the quantities may vary depending on the size of your oven dish. Feel free to edit away, it's all coming straight out of my brain and I don't have much of an internal editor when it comes to writing things down, I tend to ramble.

Vegans don't eat any living thing, or the products of any living thing. So no meat of any kind, and no eggs or dairy. If it's processed then more often than not they can't eat it as so much processing uses eggs and/or milk (would you believe most crisps contain milk or milk proteins?).

It's tricky having carnivorous foodie friends round for a meal when you live with a vegan. I've pretty much spent the last four years hoarding recipes that will mean nobody has to feel as if they're being deprived (and so that I don't have to bother cooking two separate meals!)

This lasagne is definitely one of my favourites, it tastes really indulgent. It's super high in protein due to the veggie mince and tofu, yet it's incredibly healthy, with loads of vitamins in and very little fat, unlike even the healthiest of normal lasagnes. If you've got time and are trying to be *really* healthy you could substitute some or all of the pasta layers with vegetables (courgettes, aubergines) sliced wide and thin and griddled with balsamic vinegar.

Nb. Tofu is a complete protein!


-Lasagne sheets (I use wholewheat but you can use the normal type)
-2/3rds of a pack of supermarket veggie mince (NOT Quorn if you want it to be vegan, sadly it has egg in! I tend to use Morrisons or Asda vegemince which is in the freezer section)
-2 chopped red onions
-4 large cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
- Tin of good quality chopped tomatoes
-Half a tube of concentrated tomato puree
-approx 200g of Tofu, drained and chopped into small chunks
-approx 1 cup of soy milk (preferably not Alpro - just any unsweetened supermarket type, you can get it everywhere now)
-Big bag of spinach
- 2 tbsps of nutritional yeast (available from most decent health food shops - tend to get mine from Out Of This World in Leeds)
-Basil (fresh is best)
-Glass of red wine (vegan if you can, or just use water if that proves difficult)
-Balsamic vinegar
-Olive oil for frying
-Salt and pepper

First preheat the oven to 180 degrees

For the ragu....

Fry the onions and garlic in olive oil until soft, then add the vegemince and the chopped tomatoes. Squeeze in the tomato puree and gradually add the red wine/water, turning it down to a simmer. Throw in a hefty splash of balsamic vinegar (extra if you skipped the wine). Watch it and keep adding a little boiling water if it the sauce starts to get too thick - the vegemince has a habit of sucking up moisture as it cooks. After 10-15 minutes it should be nearly there. Turn it right down to the lowest heat and keep an eye on it - add more water if needed.

For the white sauce....

Wilt the spinach by chucking it in a colander, putting it in the sink and pouring a full kettle of boiling water over it. You may need to do it in two batches depending on how big your colander is. Put the wilted spinach in a blender with the tofu, the nutritional yeast, soy milk and a little seasoning. Blitz it all together - it should be quite thick, and an exciting colour (definitely not white, but I digress)

Now back to the ragu. This should be ready now. Season with salt and pepper and throw in a good handful of torn up basil leaves. Stir it up.

Line the bottom of your ovenproof dish with a layer of lasagne sheets. Spoon on the ragu, then a layer of the white sauce. Add another layer of lasagne sheets, another layer of ragu and another layer of white sauce. Keep going til you've used most of it up but a hold back a little white sauce. Finish with a lasagne sheet and spread a thin layer of the white sauce on top, stick a few basil leaves on (art!) and I sometimes put a few triangles of vegan cheese slices on top if I'm feeling fruity but it's completely non-essential.

Cover with tin foil and bake for 40 minutes, then remove the tin foil and bake for approximately another 20 minutes to brown the top. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

It sounds like a lot of work but I promise it's not all that  - plus it's worth every second at the end! I'm a pretty lazy cook and if I can pull it off then anyone can :)

I'll have to wait until I've gotten over my fear of tofu before trying this, but I think it's a fantastic recipe, big thank you to Penny for this one!

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