Vegetarian lasagna with basil pesto and ricotta
You know in FRIENDS where Monica says she could show a piece of cake a good time? I get it. I often feel that way about food. Most recently, I felt that way about this lasagna. This lasagna with its rich, cheesiness and flavours of basil, tomato and mushrooms. Yep, I could definitely show this lasagna a good time. And then there’s the fact that this is vegetarian. You guys, I promise you would never even notice it didn’t contain meat. In fact, I think meat lasagna falls seriously short when compared to this version. The basil pesto, ricotta and rich tomato sauce combined with al dente pasta create a really indulgent dish.
It’s also much easier to prepare than a classic lasagna. No waiting around for the meat sauce to cook. You simply combine a few tins of chopped tomatoes with some sautéed mushrooms and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes. I decided to keep it quite simple but you could add slices of grilled aubergine, courgette or even butternut squash to add even more vegetable goodness. I find that the mushrooms add a lot of meaty texture and flavour and combined with the tomato creates a lot of umami-depth which I am such a fan of. But for now, I’m going to shut up and just let you look at it for a while. Drooling yet?
- 500g mushrooms, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2-3 cups (approximately 2 x 400g tins) chopped tomatoes
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 fresh oregano sprig
- salt & pepper to taste
- I used the bechamel recipe in my Chicken & bacon pot pie recipe but substituted chicken stock with vegetable stock.
- 250g uncooked lasagna sheets
- ½-3/4 cup basil pesto
- 1.5 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 cup mozzarella, grated
- To make the tomato sauce, sauté the mushrooms in a splash of oil until golden brown then add the garlic, tomatoes and herbs. Allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes then season to taste.
- In the meanwhile, make the bechamel and set aside.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°c.
- To assemble, add a bit of tomato sauce to the bottom of a casserole dish then top with a few lasagna sheets. Add more tomato sauce on top then add dollops of basil pesto and ricotta and top with a layer of bechamel. Repeat until you've used up all the sauce then top with mozzarella.
- Place in the oven and allow to bake for 30-45 minutes until a knife can be inserted easily which indicates the pasta is fully cooked.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.