The inspiration behind this lasagne was wanting to make a vegetarian lasagne that did not have any tomato in it. The homemade pesto béchamel is lovely and rich, alongside the freshness from the greens which are flavoured with chilli and lemon.
Ingredients: (makes one tray of lasagne that is 3-4 sheets wide and has three layers)
For the pesto:
60 grams of basil (I use two 30 gram packs from the supermarket which includes stalks)
30 grams grated parmesan cheese
30 grams pine nuts, lightly toasted in a pan
Pinch of red chilli flakes (provides a nice underlying heat)
Generous pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil (extra virgin is best)
For the béchamel:
750ml whole milk
75 grams butter
75 grams plain flour
Salt and black pepper for seasoning
For the Lasagne:
One pack of lasagne sheets (you will need around 12-15 sheets)
300 grams grated mozeralla cheese
100 grams parmesan cheese
400 grams frozen peas
300 grams frozen broad beans, skinned after being defrosted
500 grams of spinach
Dried chilli flakes
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
Make the pesto:
- This is pretty easy. Put the basil leaves, cheese, toasted nuts in a blender and add in a good pinch of salt and pepper, and chilli flakes if you wish. Pour in some oil (around 4 tablespoons) and blend.
- Once combined, open and check if it needs more oil, salt or pepper. You should aim for a thick but somewhat lose consistency when mixed with a spoon.
Make the béchamel:
- Melt the butter in a saucepan on a medium heat.
- Add in the flour once melted and mix (I use a silicone spatula) to form a roux.
- You now need to cook out the flour so keep stirring it for another 2-3 minutes to ensure it is cooked out.
- Add in the milk slowly, and mix – aiming to gradually add the milk bit by bit to prevent a lumpy sauce. The first few adds are key to avoiding lumps.
- Once all of the milk has been added, stir the sauce. It should thicken over 5-10 minutes. You want a gloopy sauce that sticks to the back of your spoon. If it doesn’t thicken, don’t panic, you can create more roux and add it to the sauce if required.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper, and leave to cool.
- Once cool, add in 2-3 tablespoons of the pesto and leave aside. It should now have a light green tinge.
Make the filling:
- Wilt the spinach in a tablespoon of butter or olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Leave in a sieve to cool, and drain out the excess water before using.
- In a large pan, add in the crushed garlic, olive oil and sauté over a medium heat for 3 minutes.
- Add in the asparagus and broad beans and cook for 3 minutes.
- Add in the frozen peas, chili flakes, and juice of half a lemon, along with the zest of a whole lemon. Cook for 3 minutes.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust as required.
Assemble the lasagne:
- I like to part cook my lasagne sheets even if the recipe says you don’t need to. Boil the lasagne sheets for 3-4 minutes to soften them a bit. You can leave them in the water with the heat turned off as you assemble.
- For the bottom of the lasagne, spoon some béchamel into the bottom of the tray – only a very thin layer to prevent the pasta from sticking. Cover with one layer of lasagne sheets.
- Now start assembling the main layers, starting with sauce, then the vegetable mix (not the spinach), followed by some cheese – you can add the cheese to your own liking, I like to add a moderate sprinkling between layers, and then more on the top layer. I also like to add some salt, pepper and chilli flakes in between layers for added kick. You should have one layer of vegetables, followed by one layer of spinach, and then one more of vegetables. Feel free to add more layers if you have leftover filling.
- Top the final layer of vegetables with lasagne sheets, some more sauce, and some dollops of leftover pesto. Add a generous helping of cheese and some dried oregano, pepper, and chilli flakes.
- Cook in a pre-heated 180 degrees C / Gas 6 oven for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling.