Preparation and Cooking: 1 1/2 hours
This lasagna has five distinct ingredients: pasta, tomato sauce, bechamel sauce, spinach, and cheese.
about fifteen 17 cm x 17 cm (7 in x 7 in) sheets of instant lasagna (400 g, or about 14 ounces)
• 1/2 cup – olive oil
• 1/2 tsp – yellow asafoetida powder
• 1 cup – chopped fresh basil
• 1 tsp – dried oregano
• 1 tsp – dried marjoram
• 2 – bay leaves
• 1 tsp – ground black pepper
• 1 medium – eggplant, diced 3 medium diced peppers
• 24 medium – tomato blanched, peeled, and chopped, or six 250 g tins Italian tomatoes cut into cubes (keep the juice)
• 1/2 cup – black olives, chopped
• 2 tbsp – tomato paste
• 1 tsp – salt
• 1 tsp – brown sugar
• 2 tbsp – chopped fresh parsley
• 1/c cup – melted butter
• 1/4 tsp – ground nutmeg
• 1/2 tsp – freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 cup – sifted plain flour
• 4 cups – warm milk
• Spinach – 1 large bunch of spinach leaves, separated, stalks removed, washed, blanched in boiling water and drained.
• 375 g – grated cheddar cheese
• 250 g – grated mozzarella cheese
• 60 g – grated parmesan cheese
• 1 tbsp – grated parmesan cheese, reserved for garnish
To cook the tomato sauce:
1. Heat the olive oil under a moderate heat in a large, heavy-based saucepan. When hot, add th asafoetida. Saute momentarily; then add the fresh basil,oregano, marjoram, bay leaves, and black pepper and saute for another few seconds.
2. Add the eggplant cubes and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the peppers, and stirring occasionally, cook them with th eggplant pieces until both are softened (about 3 or 4 mins).
3. Add the tomatoes and olives and stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat slightly, and cook uncovered, stirring often, for about 1/2 hour or until it reduces and thickens. Add tomato paste, sugar,salt, and parsley, mix well, and remove from the heat.
To cook the Bechamel Sauce:
1. Place the melted butter in a heavy saucepan over a low heat and stir in the nutmeg, black pepper, and flour and saute until the mixture darkens slightly (about 1/2 min). Remove from the heat.
2. Gradually pour in the warm milk, stirring with a whisk until the sauce is smooth. Return to moderate heat and stir until it boils. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens to a thick-custard consistency (about 5 mins.)
To assemble the lasagna:
1. Combine all 3 cheese (except the reserved parmesan) in a bowl. Divide the tomato sauce and bechamel sauce into 3. Divide the cheese and spinach into 2. Divide the pasta into 5.
2. Spread one-third of the tomato sauce in the bottom of the tomato tray. Place one-fifth of the pasta sheets on top. Spread on one-third of the bechamel sauce then another one-fifth of the pasta. Spread one-half of the spinach leaves; then sprinkle half of the grated cheese on top.
3. Repeat this process twice more and you should end up with the bechamel sauce on top. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Place the lasagna in the top of a pre-heated 200 degree C/ 300 degree F oven and cook for 30 -45 minutes or until the top is slightly golden and the pasta “gives” when you stick a knife in it.It’s best to let the lasagna set for at least another hour before serving, as this”plumps” the pasta. Cut into squares and serve.
Yield: 1 tray of lasagna, 30 cm x 20 cm x 8 cm (12 in x 8 in x 3 in )