Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vegetarian Lasagna - One of the nicest things I've ever cooked

I'm back full blast, I was off to my parents' home in Central Italy for a week and my mother has been a huge inspiration to try new things and just cook more and more. She is the real leit-motiv behind everything, she always experimented with food;she canned tomatoes all her life, made marmalades and jams ever since I can remember, she tried to preserve all kind of fruits and vegetables by all possible means. She grows fruits and vegetables, she uses her own flour to make pasta and bread. She's an awesome woman and despite her back problems, she always did, and still does, everything she can to put together lunch and dinner everyday without going to the shop.

Yesterday during work a friend invited us to go to their place for dinner. I just wanted to try a vegetarian Lasagna recipe I had found on the internet so I told him I would be making it and bring it over so he only had to worry about the second and side dish.

You will excuse the pictures' quality; I put the Lasagna together and cooked it after work within 1 hour. I was under a bit of pressure :D


300 grams of Soft Cheese (Ricotta would be better)
1 and 1/2 jars of Pesto Sauce
1/2 pack of Lasagna Sheets (I let them boil a bit before laying them down... Again, I was in a hurry)
4 regular Mozzarellas
500 grams of Cherry Tomatoes

3 tablespoons of Flour, Olive Oil and 1 litre of Milk for the Besciamella Sauce

Ok, so first thing first, turn on the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. 

While the oven heats, wash and split in half the Cherry Tomatoes. Place them with a bit of Olive Oil in a non-stick pan on low heat with a pinch of Salt. Let them cook slowly while you do the other things.

Slice the Mozzarella in small medallions and set aside.

Mix the Soft Cheese with the Pesto Sauce in a bowl. Add a bit of Olive Oil if it seems too thick. Set this aside as well, right next to the Mozzarella.

Place some Olive Oil in a small pot, let it heat on low for a couple of minutes and then add 3 tablespoons of flour, do not stop stirring for any reason! Let the child make a mess with the crayons, the dog bark at the birds and the husband look for fresh socks as long as they please. You are making Besciamella Sauce! There is no interruption allowed. And then, after all, it's only for a few minutes!!!
Slowly add, in the small pot (stirring the whole time) the milk. Keep stirring to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. The mixture will thicken in no time at all. Add a bit of Salt and grated Nutmeg if you like. It's Your Besciamella and it's important that it responds to Your Taste.
So, once the sauce it's done, so it's not thick nor liquid anymore, take it off the heat and keep stirring for a couple more minutes. Cover and set aside :)

Now, all the fillings are ready, so take your oven dish and put some Besciamella on the bottom. 

Then place a layer of Lasagna Sheets on it and one of Mozzarella, then Lasagna Sheets again and the Pesto-Cheese mixture. Proceed until you have the height you desire and the two fillings have been used up. On the very top place the Tomatoes and cover everything with the Besciamella sauce.

Place the Lasagna in the oven and let cook. The cooking time depends on the sheets used. Last night I was pressed for time, so, before placing the sheets in the dish, I let them boil a bit in salty water so the oven time was reduced to 20 minutes.

If you don't want to add this operation to the process and place the sheets in the dish as they are, the oven time has to be increased at least to 40 minutes.

Here is the Lasagna just out of the oven!

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