Lasagne is the comfort food par excellence. Layers of fresh pasta are softened by delicate bechamel sauce, smothered in Bolognese sauce, and showered in parmesan cheese. Every mouthful is a warm hug.
It’s an honour for me to share with you the vegetarian version of my family recipe. See notes below to easily adapt the recipe and make it vegan.
A labour of love
Lasagne are what my mum, my grandma, my aunties would lovingly make for any special occasion – a Sunday lunch, Christmas dinner, or me visiting back home. Lasagne simply means home.
Lasagna is a labour of love, you got to work in the kitchen for so many hours to achieve that perfect combination of layers.
Once a friend said he doesn’t understand why lasagne are so much work. I couldn’t be more deeply offended. Sure, you can prepare your lasagna in 30 minutes, but sure you are also living a very sad life. I love this friend very much, but there are boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed.
If you want to eat the real deal, then you have to work for it.
A rite of passage
In any relationship, there are many steps. The moment you say I love you, the moment you meet their parents, the moment you move in together. In an Italian relationship, there is one more step, the most important of them all, the moment you make them lasagna.
If an Italian makes lasagne for you, you made it. You are their friend for life and their dear partner. Or they simply have a huge favour to ask for and they are using their secret and best weapon.
Rejoice that moment and savour every bite of proper lasagne.
My favourite story around lasagna is the one from my Italian flatmate, back in Copenhagen. Once she just started going out with a Dane and after a month, she made lasagne for him. She had a day off and thought to go all out to impress the guy – despite good advice from her friends not to rush things hehe.
Well, the guy, so ungrateful, only had one bite and said lasagna is not his fave.
What a massive waste of time.
I don’t want to be known as someone feasting on the disgrace of others, but I got to say that I was quite pleased to have a whole tray of lasagne left for myself.
Needless to say, they didn’t go out again. Certain rules are not meant to be broken. Make lasagne only for people you know are worth it.
I hope you’ll try my vegetarian lasagne, lentils work perfectly in a Bolognese sauce and I know meat eaters that prefer this version over the traditional one.
You can also make the sauces the day before and just assemble the lasagne the day after. Or freeze your tray for up to 3 months and quickly pop it in the oven when you need it the most. It’s an instant injection of joy.
Vegetarian lasagne, what else?Course: MainsDifficulty: Medium
Lasagne is the comfort food par excellence. Layers of fresh pasta are softened by delicate bechamel sauce, smothered in Bolognese sauce, and showered in parmesan cheese. Every mouthful is a warm hug. Here is the vegetarian version of my family recipe. These ingredients make for two lasagne trays – one for now, and one for later.
- Lentil bolognese sauce
200 g celery
200 g carrots
200 g onions
Half a glass of white wine (optional)
400 g brown lentils (800 g already cooked)
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 l tomato passata
500 ml vegetable stock
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
- Bechamel sauce
120 g butter (cow or cashew nuts) or 80 g extra virgin olive oil
120 g flour
1.5 l of milk you like (I use oat milk, make sure it’s unsweetened)
fine sea salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
500 g lasagne sheets (if vegan, make sure your pasta doesn’t contain any eggs)
80 g parmesan cheese or vegan parmesan cheese or natural yeast
2 ovenproof dishes (mine are 32 x 20 cm & 27 x 18 cm, but use what you already have at home. You can easily use any leftover sauce for spaghetti)
- Lentil bolognese sauce
- If using dry lentils, pre-soak them overnight.
- Mince the three Italian cousins vegetables together: onion, celery, and carrots – they are the base ingredients for so many Italian dishes. You can use a blender to speed up the process.
- Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a big casserole pot with one spoon of tomato paste.
- Transfer the minced veggies and pan-fry over high heat. They will lose a lot of water – don’t rush it, let them cook for 5 – 10 minutes.
- Add half a glass of wine for extra flavour and let it evaporate over high heat.
- Add the lentils in – no need to cook them beforehand. Add the tomato sauce, broth, bay leaf, and salt to taste. Let it simmer over medium heat for 1hour and 15 minutes. Again, don’t rush it – you want the lentils to be extremely soft. Add a few spoons of hot water halfway through if your sauce is getting too dry.
- Bechamel sauce
- Warm up the milk – it needs to be very hot but not boiling.
- Heat up the butter or oil in a large pot and quickly stir in the flour till you have a compact paste that the French call Roux. Once the paste doesn’t stick to the pan anymore and is thick, pour the hot milk in, keep stirring over low heat for 5-10 minutes till the sauce thickens.
- Now add the nutmeg, salt, and black pepper to taste. Make sure to cover the sauce immediately with cling film or a pot lid as you don’t want thick skin to form and ruin your delicious sauce
- We’re almost there! Grate the parmesan or vegan cheese.
- Let’s do the magic layers: 1. Add 1 generous spoon of bechamel and two of lentil Bolognese sauce. 2. Add the first layer of pasta 3. Add four generous spoons of bechamel sauce and spread evenly 4. Spread evenly three spoons of Bolognese sauce 5. Cover with a generous amount of parmesan cheese. Repeat three-four times depending on the size of your ovenproof dish.
- Cover the lasagna with foil and cook at 180 C for 30 minutes.
- Take then the foil out and cook the lasagna for 10 more minutes. Let the mighty lasagna sit for 10 minutes and then proudly serve your masterpiece. Buon appetito!
- These ingredients make for two trays, one for now and one for later. It takes so long to make lasagne that I strongly recommend making two, you can easily freeze the second lasagna before baking it. You’ll then need to simply pop it in the oven and bake it for 10 minutes longer than a fresh lasagna.
- For the best lasagna, remember two rules: 1. Don’t be shy with the bechamel sauce, if in doubts overdo it. You don’t want a dry lasagna! 2. You need a t least a total of four layers of pasta – you want your teeth to have something to sink in. I am watching you!
- I prefer to either make fresh pasta or buy fresh pasta. If you buy dry lasagna sheets, make sure to boil them before for just a couple of minutes. This will make your lasagne extra soft and extra delicious.