I am all about the cheese. As in ALL about the cheese. If anything goes wrong in the kitchen, I am a firm believer that all you need to do to correct a culinary calamity is to add cheese on top to solve the problem.
Now when it comes to lasagna, I have a passion for the corner piece (as I am sure most of you do!)
You know what I am talking about right? The gooey, crunchy, bubbling corner piece that definitely hosts more cheese than the rest of those pitiful landlocked slices.
I am prepared to fight to the death for it.
The amazing thing with this lasagna is, not only is it vegetarian (meat eaters fear not) but it is also (in my mind) guilt free.
Layered with fresh vegetables and topped with the perfect cheese crust, this recipe will blow your mind.
It is a labour of love.
Dubbed by a close friend of mine as the Lasagn-YOH (who also generously shared the recipe with me), its name is as fitting as the casserole dish it’s baked in.
I say generously because this dish is a game changer. A blessing.
For those of you who don’t know, YOH is South African slang, used when a person is rendered speechless, a word that summarizes the gravity of an overwhelming experience.
Practice saying it out aloud now. Yoh.
There is no use fighting it – it’s exactly what will happen.
Cook time: 2 hours 30 minutes
- Coconut oil (olive oil if you don’t have)
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 sprigs of thyme (twigs removed)
- 700 grams of Rosa tomatoes, halved
- 700ml or 1 jar of tomato purée
- 50 grams of basil chopped
- 1 large butternut, peeled and chopped
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 400 grams potabellini mushrooms, sliced
- 2 sprigs of rosemary (twigs removed)
- 250ml cream
- 1 large aubergine
- 200 grams Swiss chard, roughly chopped
- 1 lemon, zested
- 300 grams fresh ricotta cheese
- 250 grams egg lasagne
- 450 grams of mozzarella
- Parmesan cheese to serve
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
In a large pot over a medium heat, add a tablespoon of coconut oil, the onion and the garlic and fry until soft. Add the thyme leaves and the tomatoes and fry until soft. Add the tomato purée and basil, let simmer. The longer the tomato sauce simmers the more the acid reduces and the sweeter the sauce, so the longer the better. I let mine simmer on a low heat for almost two hours if I can. Season to taste.
Put the butternut on a roasting tray and lightly coat in a half a tablespoon of coconut oil. You don’t want too much oil. Just enough so that it is covered. Add salt and roast at 180 for 35-40 minutes or until soft when you poke it with a fork. When it is ready remove from the oven but keep the oven on to bake the dish at the end.
In a small frying pan over a medium to high heat add the butter and a dash of oil (this stops the butter from burning.) Do not add to much as you don't want to boil the mushrooms. Add the mushrooms and fry until they are golden brown. Once they start to brown add the rosemary. Once ready add half the cream to the pan. Let simmer for 1 minute, remove from heat and set aside.
Slice the aubergine into half a centimeter thick disks. In a large frying pan over a high heat add half a tablespoon of coconut oil. Once hot add your disks. Aubergine tends to suck up the oil. Don’t panic if they need add a little more oil (don’t over do it, they will fry up). Fry each side for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl add the Swiss chard and lemon zest. Using your hands crumble the ricotta into the bowl and toss with the Swiss chard.
Almost there! Now you just have to put all the layers together
You are going to assemble the lasagne in a large lasagne dish.
Add your butternut to the dish. I squish my butternut down to make a compact flat layer. Top with four ladles of tomato sauce. Add the lasagne by lining them up next to each other. You are not wetting the lasagne before cooking. It will cook out when you bake the dish.
Add the mushrooms on top of the lasagne. Smooth out to all corners of the dish.
Add the spinach on top. Pack it down and get as much in as you can. It wilts when you bake it.
Add another layer of lasagne.
Add your fried aubergine on top of your lasagne. Assemble it so that it makes a full layer.
Cover with the rest of the tomato sauce. Pour over the rest of the cream.
Slice the mozzarella into disks, enough to cover the entire top of the lasagne. Don’t be shy and make sure you don’t miss a spot! Remember the cheese will spread as it melts! Grate some parmesan over the top.
Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 35-40 minutes. Keep an eye on your cheese as you don’t want it to burn but you do want it crunchy!