This lasagna creation from my kitchen is a perfect Sunday evening dinner and a satisfactory end to the weekend. It will certainly ward of those oncoming Monday morning blues, trust me. A side of a freshly tossed green salad and a glass of your favourite wine, are perfect accompaniments to this delicious lasagna. Let’s keep those spirits high and tummy happy😀
True to its name, this pasta dish is vegetarian, with ingredients that have been lying in my fridge all week, waiting to be used. Namely, a half used bottle of store bought marinara sauce, some marinated artichokes, which I had bought for my green salad, earlier on in the week. And a dash of good Californian Pinot Noir from the Central coast, which I added to the marinara sauce, for a rich and deep depth in flavour. The remainder to be poured straight into our wine glasses, along with dinner later tonight!😉 The other set of ingredients, namely fresh greens, beautiful and fragrant basil and brightly coloured baby bell peppers, which I picked up from my Sunday shopping spree at our local farmers market. I have used no boil or oven ready lasagna noodles(they do not need to be boiled, they cook straight in the oven) and a bechamel sauce, which bring this delightful dish together. I chose not to use the traditional ricotta cheese, since I’m going light on my cheese intake these days. Don’t know how long that’s going to last though😉! Before this dish hits the oven to be baked, a little sprinkle of sharp cheddar cheese, just a wee bit. Of course, cheese lovers and those not watching their weights, feel free to go over the top with your favourite cheeses! After all it is a lasagna😀
Store-bought marinara sauce – 3 cups
Bechamel sauce – 2 cups, recipe enclosed below
8-10 baby bell peppers, roasted. Shown in the recipe below
Store-bought marinated artichokes – 11/2 cups
Swiss chard, chopped – 2 cups
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup Pinot noir. Or any good wine of your choice, red or white.
Fresh basil leaves – a handful
Red chilli flakes – a pinch
Extra virgin oil – 2 tbsp.
Grated sharp cheddar cheese – 1/2 cup
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Ingredients for the bechamel sauce :
Whole milk – 2 1/2 cups
Flour – 2 tbsp.
Butter + olive oil – 2 tbsp.
White pepper powder – 1/2 tsp.
A pinch nutmeg
Salt, to taste
For the bechamel sauce – heat the butter and olive oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add the flour and stir for about a couple of minutes, to remove the raw taste if the flour. Add the milk. Bring to a boil, stirring continuously. Lower the heat, and let simmer for about 5 minutes, till the sauce thickens, it should be quite thick. Add salt, white pepper powder and nutmeg. Set aside.
Heat another pan over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil. Add the minced garlic and red chilli flakes. Add the chopped greens, namely, the rapini and Swiss chard. Saute on low heat for 6-8 minutes. Set aside.
In the same pan, heat another tablespoon of oil. Add the fresh basil. Add the marinara sauce. Add the wine. Simmer the sauce for 6-8 minutes.
In an oven proof baking dish, assemble the lasagna. Layer a spoonful of the marinara sauce at the bottom of the dish. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles. Add some bechamel sauce on top. Arrange the roasted peppers, artichokes and sautéed greens. Again layer with 3 more lasagna noodles. Repeat the same steps to form 3 big layers. Sprinkle the cheese on top as the final layer. Cover with aluminium foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes, till brown and bubbly.