Not only does Telethon do wonderful things for sick children, it now does wonderful things for cold, hungry women.
I braved Karrinyup shopping centre yesterday for the special Telethon Sunday trading day, and managed to pick up quite a few bargains for the pain of getting stuck behind dawdling fools and waiting an age to try anything on. We missed out on seeing Fat Cat in the Food Court but caught a few glimpses of the “stars” of Packed to the Rafters. At least, we think it was them, as that is what the signs were advertising, and they seemed to be signing things and getting screamed at by teenage girls with terrible hairstyles and awful tights. I think my distaste for the wearing of tights as leggings (especially when they’re a bit old and saggy and even more see-through) has reached its limit and I just don’t care anymore.
Our biggest bargains were found at House, where my friend and I both picked up some very cute individual ovenware dishes (with lids!) for only $1.99 each and I also got a nice lasagne size square ovenware dish (sadly sans lid) for $10. A nice lasagne size dish? Why, I should make lasagne!
Given the non-beef eating, I have a nice recipe for a simple tomato and bean lasagne that was a regular in my cooking repertoir a few years ago. I wanted to make a more interesting lasagne for the maiden use of my new dish, but scouring of cooking websites and flicking through cookbooks didn’t really yield anything that took my fancy. I thus decided to invent my own lasagne, and the Vegizo was born.
Cheesy Vegizo Lasagne
Serves 6 with side salad
Preparation time: 1-1.5 hours
Cooking time: 45 minutes + 15 minutes resting time
1-2 tsp olive oil
1 small-medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 stalk of celery, thinly sliced
3-5 mushrooms, sliced
85 g hot chorizo, thinly sliced
500 g pasta sauce (I used Five Brothers Oven Roasted Garlic with Wine Pasta Sauce)
5-6 slices of eggplant, ~3 cm thick
1 medium-large red capsicum
250 g frozen spinach, thawed and drained well (squeeze!)
3/4 cup ricotta
1/4 cup grated cheese (mixture of mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan)
1 garlic clove, crushed/chopped
1.5 Tb butter
2 Tb olive oil
4 Tb plain flour
3 cups milk
3/4 to 1 cup grated cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan)
Lasagne sheets (I use dried instant ones, though would like to try fresh ones soon)
Good handful of grated cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan)
Salad of your choice to serve with
1. Heat the oil in a saucepan or frying pan on high heat. Saute the onion for 2-3 minutes.
2. Add the carrot, celery, mushrooms and chorizo and cook for ~5 minutes.
3. Add 3/4 of the jar of pasta sauce and stir through, reducing the heat and allowing the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Roast the capsicum. Remove skin, stalk and seeds and cut into large segments. I like to roast my capsicum by putting it under a hot grill, turning until all the skin is blackened. I then put it in a glass bowl, covering it with plastic wrap and leaving it for a few minutes. The skin will then slip easily off, and you are left with a kind of slimey (but in a good way) delicious naked capsicum!
5. Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat, and add a little olive oil. Fry the eggplant slices on both sides until a nice golden brown colour. Remove from heat and set aside.
6. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.
6. Add the butter and olive oil to a medium saucepan and melt over a low heat.
7. Add the flour to the pan and stir well. It should be a nice pastey consistency. If necessary, add more oil if it is too thick/dry.
8. Gradually (especially crucial at the start) add the milk, whisking well to make sure you don’t have any lumps. Continue to whisk over a low-medium heat until the sauce thickens (possibly 10 minutes or so).
9. Remove pan from the heat and add some salt and pepper and the cheese, stirring until the cheese has melted through the sauce.
10. Combine the spinach (making sure you’ve squeezed all the water out), ricotta, egg, cheese and garlic clove in a bowl, adding 1/3 cup of the bechamel sauce. Mix well.
Making the Lasagne!
11. Cover the bottom of a 22cm square baking dish (or equivalent) with the remaining 3/4 jar of the pasta sauce.
12. The layers are then like so:
- Half of the chorizo mix,
- Eggplant slices,
- Third of the bechamel sauce,
- Spinach mix,
- Remaining half of the chorizo mix,
- Roasted capsicum slices,
- Second third of the bechamel sauce,
- Remaining third of the bechamel sauce,
- Grated cheese.
13. Bake in the preheated oven (190 degrees) for 45 minutes.
14. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
15. Serve with a nice garden salad.
The only changes I would make to the recipe would be to add some anchovies to the chorizo layer (which I wanted to do but wasn’t sure if my housemate was down with the salty fishy goodness) and add garlic to the spinach mix (I’ve added this to the recipe even though I didn’t include it when I made it). I’ll definitely continue to use hot chorizo as it gives a really nice heat to the dish. It wasn’t overly hot, but I guess this is dependent on the type of chorizo you use. Mine was Mondo Doro Smallgoods Hot Chorizo, which I got at the little continental deli place which I can’t remember the name of, in that little alley which I can’t remember the name of on Beaufort St just a few shops south from IGA. They have lots of good stuff in there, as I’ve recently discovered. Heaps and heaps of types of cheese, pastas, tasty treats like date & nut rolls, and they seemed to be a popular spot to pick up sandwiches and rolls for lunch. Oh and while I’m talking about Beaufort Street, head down to the Merchant for a bloody good muscat they’re selling at the moment. Only $17 (although when I looked at my receipt later it said $14) and it’s creamy and delicious (and I don’t normally like sweet wines).
I was really happy with how this lasagne turned out, and even happier when we discovered that after making two meals out of it, there were another four meals to be saved in the fridge for later. I was particularly happy that even with all the piles of ingredients making up the layers, it did not overflow when cooking! I tend to get a bit greedy when cooking, and it is not unknown for me to have a particularly saucy lasagne overflow in the oven, or to have a stirfry that was meant to only feed one person end up being large enough for a family. I’m pretty good when baking though, as I tend to only make minor changes to recipes and so I’ve not had any cake overflow experiences. The Vegizo also sliced really well, keeping its layers nicely after having a 15 minute rest before cutting and serving. This was possibly the longest 15 minutes of my life.