This recipe is the result of not shopping properly. I thought I had bought everything needed to make this vegetable lasagne recipe from the Cranks recipe book, but it turned out I was missing a couple of key things. Sheets of lasagne. Crème fraiche. So I improvised and added a couple of extra things I happened to have. This is the result. It demonstrates that being flexible can often be a nice surprise. Whatever you change, always include the roasted butternut squash slices in pesto, that’s lovely!As with a lot of ‘vegetarian’ recipes, I find them sadly lacking in protein. So I added a tin of haricot beans which I had in the cupboard. It would work with any type of tinned bean.
900g butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and cut into long thin slices
1 tbsp basil pesto [I used about 4 tbsp]
600g mushrooms, any combination, wiped with dry kitchen towel
6 lasagne sheets [I used gluten-free penne instead]
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp tamari/soy sauce
8 tbsp crème fraiche [I used fat free natural yogurt]
30g Parmesan, grated
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
60 Gruyere or other hard cheese, grated [I used more Parmesan]
tin haricot beans, drained [optional]
packet fresh basil [optional]
The separate elements for the lasagne can be prepared in advance, and assembled just before eating. Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/gas 8. Place the slices of butternut squash in a bowl and toss with 2 tbsp olive oil, season to taste. Spread in a single layer on two baking trays and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes until soft when checked with a knife, and going brown around the edges. Put into a bowl to cool slightly, add the basil pesto and set aside. Meanwhile, cook the lasagne sheets or your own preferred pasta. Drain and set aside. Slice the cleaned mushrooms. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil, two chopped garlic cloves and the tamari in a wide frying pan. Add the mushrooms and cook gently until they begin to release their juices. Add 1 tbsp crème fraiche, turn the heat down and simmer until the juices begin to reduce. Set aside.
Put the spinach, and fresh basil if using, into a saucepan with a splash of water. Cook with the lid on over a gentle heat so the leaves wilt. Drain in a sieve and press out the excess liquid using the back of a large spoon. Chop on a board then put into a bowl. Add 30g grated Parmesan, 1 clove chopped garlic, nutmeg, salt, pepper and 4 tbsp crème fraiche. Set aside. If cooking straight away:-
Turn the oven down to 190°C/375°F/gas 5.
Layer the vegetables and pasta in a large ovenproof casserole dish, finishing with a creamy spinach layer and the remaining crème fraiche. Sprinkle the top with the grated Gruyere or hard cheese.
Bake in the oven with a lid on the casserole, or cover with a layer of foil, for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to bake for a further 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden. Test with a fork to make sure the vegetables at the bottom of the dish are hot. What would I do differently next time?
Add more yogurt
Stir the haricot beans into the spinach and yogurt sauce
Substitute courgette for the spinach, sliced thinly and fried lightly in a little olive oil If you like this, try:-
Mushrooms + wine + butternut
Cheesy nutty herby mushrooms
A cassoulet of aubergines
5 to remember
un par de cosas clave – a couple of key things
la nuez moscada – the nutmeg
la cazuela – the casserole dish
prueba con un tenedor – test with a fork
las alubias – the haricot beans
This recipe is from ‘The Cranks Bible’ by Nadine Abensur [Weidenfeld & Nicolson]