My fridge cum farm-to-table vegetarian lasagna

IMG_3023This 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😀

Servings  6

Ingredients :

No-boil lasagna noodle sheets – 9. If you cannot get a hold of these, do use the regular lasagna noodles, and boil them according to the package instructionsIMG_3016

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

Broccoli rabe or rapini, chopped – 4 cupsIMG_3008

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. IMG_3011Lower 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.IMG_3013

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.IMG_3009 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.

Roast the baby bell peppers in a 400 F oven for about 10-12 minutes.IMG_3015 When cool, slice them in strips.

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. IMG_3017Add some bechamel sauce on top.IMG_3018 Arrange the roasted peppers, artichokes and sautéed greens. IMG_3019Again layer with 3 more lasagna noodles. Repeat the same steps to form 3 big layers. IMG_3021Sprinkle the cheese on top as the final layer. IMG_3022Cover with aluminium foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes, till brown and bubbly.IMG_3023IMG_3024

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