Lockdown Lasagna – Making the best of what we’ve got! A simple lasagna filled with BIG flavours and creamy bechamel
This one’s for rockin’ the lockin’!
Lasagna is a celebration of a dish, it takes time and love to make well
Most of these ingredients are from the store cupboard or freezer, but it’s still packed with flavour and nutrition. The sun-dried tomato pesto is a real highlight and adds a zing to the bechamel, making the top especially crispy and delicious. You’ll get all your lasagna boxes ticked, a deeply flavoured sauce with creamy bechamel. Many layers of happiness right here!
I can’t think of a healthier way of making a traditional(ish) lasagna vegan and gluten-free than this one. It’s really tasty and satisfying, full of hearty lentils and mushrooms. I like cooking food for everyone, something great that we can all enjoy, no matter what our dietary requirements. It’s just good food right!
Wild Mushroom, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Pesto with Chickpea Bechamel (Gluten-free, Vegan)
Over one our Facebook Cooking Group we decided that chickpeas were the best ingredient ever. So versatile, tasty and nutritious. Chickpea/Gram flour is an excellent flour to keep in your cupboards. It makes delicious crepes and pancakes, can be used to make vegan omelettes or tortillas, add it to cakes. It generally adds a lovely toasty, almost egg-like, flavour to whatever it touches. I use it for breads also. It’s my favourite flour right now.
Why is this a lockdown lasagna? I’ve stripped some of my normal lasagna recipes right back but it’s still a real treat and we all need a bit of that. The pesto is borderline, I took the pine nuts/ almonds I’d normally use out, but I’m still calling it a pesto! I want to make this an inexpensive and accessible as possible, but still comforting and moreish. The process of cooking a lasagna is a labour of love, lots of techniques and time needed to make a something that is such a classic feast.
We love having a basil plant in the kitchen, the fragrance and colour, it’s a little nod towards the Med too. Basil is the only fresh ingredient in this lasagna. This goes against how I normally cook, but these are strange days for sure. Now, more than ever, the kitchen seems like a refuge of sorts. A place we can go to lose ourselves for a while and lasagna is the perfect dish for this, disappear into a world of bubbling pots and spinning spoons.
It may not be fresh but frozen spinach, passata and mushrooms are still filled with great flavour and nutrition. Fresh is best in the BHK, but cooking the cupboards can also give us diverse options for making delicious and tasty food. One thing this situation has focused my mind on is how precious food is; tinned, dried, pickled, a bit shrivelled looking, we can do things with them. Make the best of what we’ve got.
Our Vegetable Peel and Crisps recipe from a while ago is getting loads of visits at the minute. I think it’s down to cooks looking for new ways of using up supposed scraps. Fermented foods are also ideal. You can take a humble cabbage and make something sublime! If you’re into sauerkraut that is. Kimchi too. Fermented foods store for an age, are inexpensive, require no special equipment and are packed with incredible nutritional properties. Fermenting enhances flavours (chocolate, coffee, cheese, vinegar, wine etcetc all fermented foods). Our guts love sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha etc and they are great for supporting our immune-system and good health generally. Here’s our Beetroot, Apple and Caraway Saeurkraut recipe from good ole’ 2014. I hope to post some new fermented food recipes soon…..
Vegan and Gluten-free Lasagna topped with that sun-dried tomato pesto (which makes all the difference!)
If you get the chance to try this recipe, please let us know below in the comments, it’s wonderful to hear from you. Yesterday we had people stopping by on the blog from Surinam, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Poland, Cyprus, US Virgin Islands (where are they?), your emails of support and encouragement are amazing and keep this blog floating along. Big thanks and shout out to Cyberella in Victoria, Australia! Amazing to know that you’re loving Peace and Parsnips all the way down there.
From our little cottage in Snowdonia, the BHK blog was started simply because we had a passion for healthy food, empowered cooking, good health and living. How they’re intertwined. How the way we cook can change our lives. Cooking is a regular opportunity for me to be mindful and compassionate. We wanted to share this with more than just our little village! 8 years later our main motivation for blogging is still, WE LOVE IT!!
The BHK is just taking it easy at the minute, we’re waiting to see how things pan out and when this blows over, we’ll be announcing new events, collaborations, holidays, demos and retreats. Thanks everyone for getting in touch and enquiring about what’s coming for later in ’20 and into ’21.
Who knows where this is all going to go? I just know that for me, cooking and eating good food makes life more bearable at times of crisis. We’re appreciating, everyday, what we have and focusing on cooking up a life filled with love and peace, staying grounded, energised and vital for the challenges ahead.
Sending you all best wishes, all over the world, from Surinam to Scarborough, hoping that you’ve got some dried mushrooms and gram flour in the cupboard ready for action!
Ciao Bella!! Vegan lasagna fresh out of the oven, all crispy on top and bubbling with flavours
Lasagna takes a while to get together, you can start preparing well in advance, cook the lentils, make the bechamel and even finish the sauce. This means that you’ll just need to assemble the lasagna and bake. If you’re making it from scratch, put aside at least a couple of lasagna hours. It’s always time well spent!
Not gluten-free? That’s cool, just use your favourite lasagna pasta sheets. I haven’t tried the bechamel with plain white flour instead of gram, but any bechamel recipe would be brightened up with this pesto.
This recipe makes lots. Plenty for the freezer. Use fresh spinach or other greens if you would like to freeze the lasagna. Otherwise, all neighbours love lasagna! It’s one of those dishes that gets better with age. Not too much age. A few days in the fridge is enough ageing.
If you haven’t made a bechamel before, it’s great. You’re in for a treat. Just keep on top of the lumps. Sound advice there. Stir, keep stirring and whisk if needed. Turn the heat down if it’s all happening too fast. Add you milk little by little, forming a thick paste, then keep adding milk until it thins out gradually. Eventually you’ll have a lovely, silky sauce to enjoy.
If you’re a full-blown pasta lover, you could add another layer of pasta to the lasagna. Just use less tomato sauce and bechamel per layer.
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and vegan recipes
We’re locking down with lasagna!
Wild Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto and Chickpea Bechamel – Gluten-free, Vegan
The Bits – For one large lasagna, 10-12 portions
350g dark green or puy lentils (rinsed)
750ml cold water
1 big bay leaf
6 garlic cloves (peeled and crushed)
2 tbs olive oil or whatever cooking oil you fancy
40g dried wild mushrooms (soaked in water)
3 tbs tomato puree
680ml tomato passata (one big jar)
2 teas dried oregano
275g frozen spinach (it normally comes in small or large blocks)
450ml hot vegetable stock
Sea salt and pepper
100g chickpea/ gram flour
125ml olive oil
1 ltr plant milk (I used soya milk)
1 big bay leaf
1 – 1 1/2 teas sea salt
Sun-dried Tomato Pesto
190g sun-dried tomatoes (one small jar, drained)
1 tbs oil, from the sun dried-tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teas dried oregano
1 big handful fresh basil leaves
2 large pinches sea salt
Gluten-free Lasagna Sheets (or your favourite pasta sheets)
First thing, get your frozen spinach out to defrost. This can take a couple of hours.
Lentils – Start with the lentils. In a medium sauce pan, add your bay leaf, lentils and water to the pan, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 40 minutes, until just cooked. Take the lentils off the heat and remove the bay leaf. Drain them, using any of the lentil cooking broth instead of stock if you like. It’s full of flavour.
Tomato Sauce – In a large saucepan, add the oil, on medium high heat, fry the garlic for 2 minutes, then add the tomato paste, continue to stir and cook for 3 minutes. Now pour in the passata, sprinkle oregano, seasoning well with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Stir, add the wild mushrooms, along with any soaking water (use a small, fine sieve, there may be some grit in the water). Pop a lid on a simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Towards the end of the sauce cooking, add your spinach and vegetable stock. Warm through.
Taste your sauce. It should be rich and flavoursome, if not, season more with salt and pepper. Leave the lid on and take off the heat. The sauce is best used hot.
Pesto – Place all the pesto bits into a blender and pulse until a slightly chunky, pesto forms. Set aside, the flavours will be mingling nicely.
Chickpea Bechamel – In a medium saucepan on medium high heat, add the olive oil and chickpea flour. Stir and cook through for 4 minutes to make a thick paste. Add a splash of milk and quickly stir. Continue adding splashes of milk and stirring well, add the bay leaf.
It will eventually become smooth, a thick and creamy texture. Keep stirring until you’ve used up the milk. Continue to simmer the bechamel for 10-12 minutes. Taste, season with salt. Remove the bay leaf.
If there are lumps in your bechamel (no probs, it happens!) Blend. Grab a stick blender and blend until it’s smooth. Otherwise, to be honest, a few lumps are not the end of the world!!
Vegan Wild Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna, ready for the oven
Assemble and Bake – Preheat a fan oven to 190oC.
Stir half the pesto into the bechamel until well combined.
In a large, deep baking dish (ours is roughly 12″ long/8″wide/3″deep), ladle in half your warm tomato sauce. Spoon over roughly a third of your bechamel. Top with lasagna sheets, until you have a snug covering, breaking up the sheets to fill the gaps.
Ladle over the rest of your tomato sauce, top with lasagna sheets and spoon over the rest of your bechamel to form a neat layer which meets the edges of the baking dish.
Now evenly spoon your pesto onto the bechamel, blobs are good (see picture). Pressing the pesto down lightly with a spoon and muddling it a little.
Place your casserole dish on a large baking tray lined with baking parchment. This stops drips and saves on washing up/ cleaning. Jane’s idea!
Cook the lasagna for 35-40 minutes, until the top has a nice, dark golden, crust and all is bubbling begging to be eaten!
We like our lasagna served with a crisp, mixed green salad, using flavourful leaves like rocket or endive, raddichio would be delicious too. A citrus, olive oil dressing pairs brilliantly with this dish.
A lasagna anyone will enjoy!
Most dried mushroom mixes have porcini in them. Which is one of my favourite mushrooms. King boletus! Also known as Cep, or in Germany, ‘Stone Mushroom’. We’re moving into the age of the mushroom!! The incredible health benefits of mushrooms are now being realised and promoted, plus, they’re just awesomely tasty. Dried porcini are high in anti-oxidants, are good sources of protein and can help with weight loss, inflammation and digestive health.
If you’re at all interested in the amazing fungi world, I’d recommend checking out Paul Stamets.