Here in Sydney we have had a glimpse of summer only to have it cruelly yanked away. I had happily relegated my coat to the back of the cupboard during our summery weeks and my gloves and hats were cast aside. I was enjoying walks down by the water and sunning myself in the morning on my balcony with a cup of tea. But the cold is back. Grrr I hate the cold! 😦 The layers of clothing, the dim lighting, the short days and the fact that for some unknown reason I drop a ring size when cold, I have yet to understand this phenomena.
It is only the food of winter that I really like. Stews, soups and meals laden with potato are one of the few highlights of winter. Winter for me is an excuse to eat potato dumplings with rich sauced dishes and spend hours slow cooking meat until it is tender and falls of the bone. Good hardy peasant food. Love it. However summer is approaching and there are new flavours to explore.
On the Monday of the long weekend we had some lovely sunshine. I vigorously gardened and enjoyed being outdoors. A glimpse of summer meant I wanted to cook something that celebrated the approaching warm weather and utilised the spring and summer vegetables that had started to make their way in to the shops. Salad for me provides little if no comfort or pleasure. Although I do feel when I eat salad that I have somewhat balanced my daily over consumption of chocolate. So summer food for me must contain a bit more substance if I am to embrace them the way I embrace winter foods. Vegetarian lasagne hits exactly the right note.
I have made this many times before in various different guises and I find it an excellent way to use up leftover veges that may not be at their best. I roast most of the veges, because the time it takes for the lasagne to bake will not be sufficient for things like pumpkin to cook until tender and because baking the vegetables releases some of their sweetness. I also use a ricotta mix instead of a béchamel. I must confess that I don’t have a great love for béchamel sauce. I like it, I will definitely eat it. Lets be honest butter and cheese can’t be bad, but i don’t have to have it. If you are a person who simply can’t have lasagne without béchamel sauce, please feel free to use that instead of ricotta. The ricotta mix gives the lasagne a freshness and lightness that works better when the weather starts to warm up and leaves you feeling less weighed down. Light ricotta works well if you want a low fat alternative, but I would suggest a half/half mix of light and normal ricotta to maintain the creaminess. Given that ricotta is a little bland in taste and we are looking for fresh but punchy, I used some goats cheese, added to the vegetable layer, to give an extra dimension to the lasagne. If you are not a fan of goats cheese I would still try it. The goatiness that most people object to is mellower when cooked, however if you are just not game, up the parmesan content for flavour. A mild blue cheese could work nicely too.
Roast vegetable and Goats Cheese Lasagne
makes 12 serves
- 2 Zucchinis
- 2 Red Capsicum
- 1 eggplant
- Small halved butternut pumpkin
- 2 cups of Baby Spinach
- 100 gms Pine nuts
- 80 gms Goats Cheese
- 500 gms Ricotta
- 1/2 cup of Parmesan
- Lasagne Sheets (fresh not dried)
- 500 ml Passata
- 2 Garlic cloves
- small handful of Basil
- 1 tsp of dried Oregano
- 1/2 cup White wine
Peel and cube pumpkin put on a baking tray and toss with olive oil and put in the oven
De seed the capsicum, slice and put on a baking tray toss with olive oil. Slice eggplant toss in oil and place into the same oven, cook both trays at 220 degrees. Bake until soft and burnished on the edges
Slice zucchini on the diagonal. Put aside. This doesn’t need to be baked as it cooks fast enough in the oven.
Heat teaspoon of oil in a saucepan and add garlic, start to cook until starting to emit that garlicky aroma, add passata, cook over medium heat.
When it starts to bubble add half a cup of wine, reduce until thick. Take off the heat when reduced and add torn basil leaves.
Drain ricotta and place in large bowl add the parmesan a good pinch of salt and pepper and the dried oregano
Place a bit of the cooled tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking dish to stop the lasagne sheet sticking. Place down a lasagne sheet put 1 tbsp of sauce and spread around evenly.
Place pieces of pumpkin, capsicum, eggplant and zucchini on the lasagne sheet. Add a small handful of pinenuts and some baby spinach. Crumble 2 tsp of goats cheese on top of vegetables. Then top with a tablespoon of ricotta cheese mix.
Repeat in layers until you reach the top of your dish. On top of the last lasagne sheet place some of the tomato sauce and some grated cheese
Bake on 180 degrees for approximately 20 mins or until the skewer slides through all the layers with ease.