I think I may have cracked meat-less dairy-less lasagne. I’ve made a couple of plant-based ones in my time, but this one absolutely tramples all over the rest. It must be something about the double layer of creamy garlicky white sauce, the big juicy mushrooms, and the savoury, unctuous porcini-lentil ragu. My Italian friend even loves it. It takes a little bit of time, but It’s 100% worth it, and makes for delicious leftovers. It keeps in the fridge for about 3 days, so if you make the whole thing, you can blast it in the microwave at work and create serious lunch-envy. I should, however, that this isn’t the most photogenic dish in the world, due to all the grey and brown and stuff. Even if my picture isn’t that great, I urge you to make this anyway!
Takes a little over an hour
FOR THE MUSHROOM LASAGNE BASE
- 1 packet lasagne sheets (you’ll probably only use about 12, but it varies depending on pan size)
- A tbsp. dried porcini mushrooms (not 100% necessary as they’re a bit pricey- but a little does go a long way)
- About 750g of mushrooms (I’d recommend a pack of big flat mushrooms (80p for 250g at Sainsburys) + a pack of regular white mushrooms (£1.20 for 500g)
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 150g red lentils
- ½ tsp. rosemary or thyme
- ½ tsp. nutmeg
- ½ tsp. smoked paprika
FOR THE WHITE SAUCE
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil
- 3 heaped tbsp. flour
- 500ml of oat milk (I mixed 3 tbsp. oats with 500 ml of water, let it rest, and then strained through a sieve)
- Put your porcini in a mug and cover with boiling water from the kettle. Leave to soak.
- Finely chop the onion and carrot (food processors make this very easy). Heat a splash of oil in a large saucepan, then add in the veggies. Fry for around 5 minutes until softened, and add the lentils. Stir for another minute, and add the porcini (+the soaking water), and cover the lentils by about 3cm of water. Add in the herbs and spice, and a good pinch of salt. Bring up to the boil, and allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes. The lentils should break down, and the whole thing should become thick and ragu-ish. If it dries out at all (the lentils absorb so much water), keep topping it up with water.
- Meanwhile, prep your mushrooms. Brush them with some kitchen towel to remove any dirt, and cut into thick slices (at least 1cm thick). Heat a splash of oil in a large frying pan and add the mushrooms. You may need to do 2 batches. Fry for about 5 minutes until they start to brown a little, and set aside.
- For the white sauce, melt the coconut oil in a small pan and add the garlic. Fry for a minute or two until it smells delicious, and then add in the flour and stir with a whisk until it is a smooth paste. Sometimes it clumps together at this point, but it’s not a problem. Slowly add in your oat milk and keep whisking until it becomes a smooth white sauce with a thick but pourable consistency. Turn off the heat, and add plenty of salt and pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg, if you like.
- Now all your components are ready, you can start layering up. If your standing mushrooms released any nice juices, pour these into the ragu.
- Take a square baking dish, and spoon in some lentil ragu. Add a layer of lasagne sheets, and then sprinkle on top your fried mushrooms (I had 2 mushroom layers, so used half each time). Add another layer of pasta, and then add half of your white sauce. This make a lovely, silky, garlicky surprise. Follow by pasta, ragu, pasta, mushrooms until these are used up. Finally, spread on the last top layer of white sauce.
- Bake on gas mark 5 for 20 minutes.
- Once out of the oven, let it rest for a couple of minutes to make slicing easier. Cut into 4 hearty wodges, scoop up, and demolish.