This recipe is my vegan take on the traditional lasagna.
With a tomato base and bechamel sauce, it has all the indulgence comfort food deserves. It carries a rich flavour and has been known to impress vegetarians and meat eaters alike =).
Serves 6 people comfortably.
What you'll need:
For the Base:
- 500g Seitan
- 3 to 4 Vegan Sausages*
- 5 Large Ripe Tomatoes
- 1 to 2 Cans of Diced Tomatoes**
- 3 Large Onions
- 5 Large Cloves of Garlic
- 1/3 Cup of Red Wine
- Olive Oil
*vegan sausages are optional, but i like to add them when they're in hand
**You can also add 2 or 3 more tomatoes if you don't want to use canned tomatoes.
Spices and Herbs:
- Sea Salt (rock salt)
- Black Pepper
- Pepper Paste (or Paprika)
- 3 Bay Leaves
- 1 Handful of Fresh Basil Leaves
For the Bechamel:
- 4 tbsp of Vegan Butter or Vegetable Margarine
- 8 to 10 tbsp of flour
- 500ml of Soy Milk
And Lastly, the Pasta:
- 1 Packet of Lasagna Pasta (500g)*
- Lasagna Dish.**
*Make sure it's only made of wheat Semolina
**This recipe fits a 32x20x7cm dish. Adjust the amount of tomatoes accordingly.
How you'll make it:
- Start by filling a large pot with water (enough to cover your tomatoes) and a pinch of salt, and bringing it to a boil.
- Chop your seitan into small cubes (about 1 cm) and add about:
1 tablespoon of salt, a teaspoon of black pepper, 1/2 a teaspoon of ground nutmeg, 1 tablespoon of pepper paste (or the equivalent in paprika), 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 a tablespoon of oregano and a good squirt of Ketchup.
Set the seitan aside and let it marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Chop your onions and garlic into small pieces, putting 2 onions and 3 cloves of garlic in a large pot (not the one with the water), and the other onion and 2 cloves of garlic in a large non stick frying pan.
- At this point the water should be boiling. Add the tomatoes and let them sit in the boiling water until you see cracks in the skin. When the skin of the tomatoes cracks, take them out into a plate and peel them while they're still hot. At this point the skin will slide right off.
Be careful not to burn yourself. Use a fork to aid if necessary.
- Put the pan and the pot with the onions on high heat, adding a generous amount of olive oil and the bay leaves, 2 for the pot and one for the pan. Cook the onions until they start getting transparent and golden.
- While the onions cook, chop your tomatoes into cubes and set them aside.
- Once the onions are cooked, add the tomatoes to the pot and the seitan to the frying pan.
Lower the heat on the pot to a medium to let it simmer, and cover it.
Leave the heat on the seitan at medium high. Stir for around 5min to allow the seitan to caramelise, being careful that the heat isn't too high.
- While this happens boil a kettle of water, about 1L.
- Add the canned tomatoes to your pot and stir. Season generously with salt, black pepper and nutmeg. The pot should have a somewhat watery consistency, but make sure to keep the flavour.
Cover the pot and cook another 5min. Don't forget to stir the seitan occasionally.
- Get your boiling water and pour it in the lasagna dish, along with a pinch of salt and about 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Then, carefully drop the pasta in the water, alternating as you do so, making the pasta cross. This will hopefully prevent the pasta from sticking together.
- Add the red wine to the pot and sir. Leave the pot uncovered and bring the sauce to a simmer.
Let it cook for 15min, 7min uncovered and another 8min with the lid on. Lower the seitan to medium low heat and keep it cooking and building flavour in the meantime.
- While you wait for your tomatoes to cook, start on the bechamel.
Put the butter in a small pot on medium heat and let it melt.
- Once the butter is sizzling, add the flour and stir vigorously for 2-3min, allowing the flour to cook.
- At this point start adding the milk in small portions, stirring vigorously and continuously.
The mixture will become thick and pasty, so keep adding milk and stirring, letting it incorporate the milk, until its reaches a creamy consistency (you may not need all the milk).
- Season the bechamel with half a tablespoon of salt, a teaspoon of black pepper and a bit of nutmeg until the flavour is right for you.
- Continue cooking in low heat, and be stir it regularly so it doesn't burn.
Add more milk if the sauce grows thicker, and let it cook longer if it's too watery, until you reach the desired creamy consistency.
- If your oven requires pre-heating, set it now to 180ºC.
- Once the 15min are past (as mentioned on step 11) turn off the heat on everything, and remove the bechamel sauce from the heat. If you have an electric stove you can leave seitan and tomatoes on the stove top, the residual heat will keep them warm.
- Finely chop a good handful of fresh basil leaves and remove all 3 of your bay leaves from the tomato and the seitan.
- Combine the seitan to the tomato sauce, by adding it to the pot, and stir for a few seconds.
- Carefully take out the pasta, trying as best as you can not to break it, and gently separate any pasta sheets that stick together. Place the pasta sheets in a plate, roughly removing the excess water with your fingers.
- Pour out the water from the lasagna dish and dry it with a paper towel so you can start assembling.
- Start with a layer of bechamel sauce and cover it with pasta.
- Then, put a thin layer of bechamel over the pasta, followed a thicker layer of your tomato base, roughly covering the whole dish.
- Add more pasta on top of the sauce and repeat the process: pasta, bechamel, tomato base.
- How much you put is up to you but try not to make the layers too thick and over-do it.
- When you're done layering, you should finish with pouring the remaining bechamel sauce on the top, hopefully enough to make a thicker layer.
The bechamel will gain colour in the oven.
- Set your oven to 180ºC if you haven't yet, and put the lasagna in the middle position.
- Make sure the heat is distributed evenly and not too intense on the top.
- Let it cook for 25 to 30 min.
- After the time is up, if your lasagna doesn't have the desired golden brown colour, move it to a higher position and set the oven to brown it for 5 min, keeping constant watch.
- Lastly, take your lasagna off the oven and serve it.
Enjoy your meal and hopefully impress your friends ;).