I’m carefully assembling the components of my lasagna: a couple of pans clutter the small kitchen table. Jenny is watching me, head tilted slightly to the side. She’s quiet. She’s about to say something profound.
I look up from my nutmeg-fest, anticipating wisdom. But all she says is:
“I’ve never seen so much cheese in my life”.
Well. That should give you an idea of how this recipe is going to pan out.
I should probably start, dear reader, with an apology for not posting for a week, but I’ll quickly retract it when you make this lasagna as it really hits the spot. No, not that one you filthy minx. The other one. The one that craves carbs and cheese on long winter nights.
I use lentils in this one cos they’re cheap and meat is not. This is the first time I’ve made lasagna without mince and although they are different beasts, this one is really quite spectacular. This is because I put a boatload of great umami (google it) flavour into the sauce to emulate the m e a t i n e s s. If you want to use mince, you are more than welcome, and I’m sure you don’t need instructions on how to cook it.
It seems like a bit of a faff at first, but this makes around 6-8 portions of delicious, bubbly beautiful lasagna so you won’t have to worry about cooking anything for the next 3 days (yes, I’m planning to have this for every meal), plus you will end up smelling like a lasagna too, which is excellent for attracting a potential mate.
So, here’s what you is needing. As a side-note, I bought absolutely nothing new for this recipe; I had it all in my kitchen already. Maybe that says something about my commitment to food, but I hope it says something more about how easy this is to make. The only thing I would have liked would have been some fresh basil and a tiny dash of red wine, which I encourage with all my liver.
For the ‘mince’ bit
1 red onion
1-2 cloves of garlic
100g red lentils
1 tsp of marmite – this adds depth. You’ll Love It.
1 square of dark chocolate (trust me, pls)
big spoon of soy sauce
big spoon of tomato puree or ketchup
Spoon of green pesto (don’t tell the italians)
Some dank oregano (preferably with a high THC content)
For the roux/ posh white sauce
About 2 big big spoons of butter (35g approx)
Some flour, possibly 4 tablespoons
Some out-of-date cream cheese (optional but I was low on milk and this was a good substitute because I needed a cup of tea later and didn’t want to use it all)
big handful of cheddar
good grating of parmesan
around 300ml of milk, possibly less, I was just estimating.
LITERALLY SO MUCH NUTMEG YOU DON’T EVEN UNDERSTAND
A lil bit of mustard to cut though all that creaminess.
More nutmeg because you didn’t take me seriously the first time
For the rest
One entire ball of mozzarella because I’m not fucking about here.
9 – 10 lasagna sheets
What you are doing
Fry ya onion and then the garlic in the oil till it’s cooked yadder yadder. You know the drill. You’re not thick.
Add your tomatoes, tomato puree, lentils, and a good splash of boiling water (actually, add about half a mugful) and let that simmer for a little bit. If you have wine, drink most of it now and add the rest.
After about 10 minutes, stir though the marmite, soy sauce and dark chocolate and let that smoosh all nicely. You probably don’t need to add salt because of the other bits and bobs, but do add a good couple of twists of black pepper and the oregano. Stir though the pesto (I’ve run out of dried basil and forgot to get fresh lol – this is a good substitute) and let that bubble away, stirring occasionally, and tasting to know what to add/ balance. Turn the heat down/ off while you make your bechamel sauce. Don’t you bloody DARE buy a jar.
Melt medium butter in a medium saucepan on a medium heat and add some medium flour (around a tablespoon at first), stirring all the time, so it goes all medium-paste-like. Add a tiny bit more flour. Change from a spoon to a balloon whisk because lumps are not acceptable. Not never-ever. Add a sploosh of milk, and stir it in till it’s all even. Turn the heat down if you need; this should be a gentle – if a little erotic – process. Keep stirring all the time and continue to add the milk in stages, beating out any lumps like a madman. If it’s looking a bit thin, don’t worry; add the cream cheese at this point and keep stirring. Once everything is EXTREMELY SMOOTH, turn the heat up a little and wait for it to be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If it was already this thick before, add more milk and dannae panic. If you run out of milk, veg stock kind of works.
Get cheese. Add cheese. Worship cheese. Be the cheese.
Now comes the best bit: grating the most amount of nutmeg you’ve ever seen into this cheesy sauce. I literally used 2/3 of a big nutmeg boi. Stir it though and taste.
Add some fresh black pepper and a tiny 1/2 teaspoon of mustard. Stir. It should be looking super creamy by now, about the consistency of thick-ass custard. (pay attention to the hyphenation here).
Turn the heat off and admire your masterpieces.
“Sing hosanna, sing hosanna, sign hosanna to the King of Cheese”
Get a deep-sided baking pan (not too big – mine’s about 10 x 20cm) and start layering your loveliness. I started with a thin layer of lentils and some bechamel at the bottom, and laid 3 sheets of lasagna (because that’s the perfect fit for my tin) on top. I then layered it again, this time remembering to add strips of beautiful mozzarella and a bit of cheddar before adding more lasagna sheets. Don’t worry if your lentil and bechamel mix get a bit squooshed together. Keep going, until you’ve used up all your sauce and lentils. Depending on your pan size, you might have to split some lasagna sheets into bits to make it all fit. Cover the last layer with whatever you have the most of, sauce-wise. I always tend to make more bechamel than lentils, seeing as I completely make these recipes up and have no idea what I’m doing most of the time.
You should have enough cheese left to COMPLETELY COVER the top. Do some more nutmeg-grating and then add a final twist of black pepper.
Put it in the oven at 180 for 45 minutes and return to the smell of heaven.
I just ate two portions because I have no self control and didn’t serve it with anything healthy, like green beans, which I was planning to do. But you should look after your arteries.
Freeze the rest in handy portions for your next FEAST.