Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato and Spinach Vegan Lasagne

I've been meaning to put a recipe for a Veggie Lasagne online for sometime, but decided against it as I thought I'd try something a little more challenging, a Vegan Lasagne.

The cheese sauce topping is made using Sheese, a dairy free cheese substitute and there's a recipe for Macaroni Cheese on their website that I adapted the sauce from.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients -

2x Medium Onions, Grated
2x Cloves Garlic, Grated
1x Carrot, Grated
1/2x Medium Butternut Squash, Peeled, deseeded and chopped into 1cm cubes (keep the seeds for garnishing the top of the lasagne)
1x Sweet Potato, Peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes
200g Mushrooms, Sliced
150g Spinach, Washed
6x Vine Ripened Tomatoes, Halved
6-8x Sheets of Lasagne Verdi (you may require more depending on the size of the oven dish you are using)
1x Slice of Bread, Crumbed
2tbsp Sun-dried Tomato Purée
125g Gouda Sheese, Grated
300ml, Soya Milk
Olive Oil
1tsp Oregano
1tsp Basil
A pinch of Sage
Salt and Pepper to taste

Note - The above picture of my ingredients shows a tin of Tomatoes that I didn't end up using, please ignore.

Start by grating onions, garlic and carrot and adding to a frying pan with a little oil, salt, the oregano and basil. Heat to a medium temperature and cook gently for around ten minutes.

Whilst this is frying, peel and chop the squash and sweet potato. I find it best to cut the squash just above the bulbous part, as this separates the lower section that needs deseeding and the upper that does not.

Scoop the seeds and pith out into a bowl of warm water and set aside for now. Leaving the seeds to soak for around 45 minutes to an hour in water will soften the pith and allow them to be easily separated later.

Chop the sweet potato and butternut squash into 1cm cubes and add to a pan of water and bring to the boil. Parboil for around 5 minutes, there's no real need to cook for much longer as they will cook further in the oven dish later on.

Slice mushrooms and tomatoes and add to the pan with the onions, carrots and garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes. Drain the water from the squash and sweet potato and add to the pan. 

Preheat the oven to 180°c. Mix the ingredients in the pan thoroughly, adding in the tomato purée and spinach, allow to heat gently whilst you begin to prepare the Sheese sauce.

If you would prefer to make a dairy based topping, simply follow the sauce recipe from the Casareccia and Cheddar Bake post here. For the Sheese sauce, add around 50ml of olive oil to a non stick pan and slowly heat and stir, as though making a roux. Next start to gradually add in the grated Gouda, leaving around 25g aside for topping the lasagne later. As you add the Sheese it can tend to clump together a little, unlike regular cheese. Do not worry as it begins to melt properly as you add in the soya milk. 

Slowly begin to mix in the soya milk and heat gently until the Sheese is fully melted. You can always add in more/less soya milk should the mixture be too thick/runny, also add extra herbs and a little pepper to the sauce to give it a deeper flavour.

At this point, you should be able to separate seeds from the pith by placing in a colander and rinsing off any excess. Pat dry using kitchen roll and place on greaseproof paper in the preheated oven with a little salt and sage to season and cook for around 10 minutes, allowing to go golden brown. If you don't wish to add the seeds to the lasagne topping, they make a tasty snack on their own. 

Make your breadcrumbs, you can use store bought here if you wish however, I tend to bake one slice of wholemeal bread at around 140°c for 5 minutes until it dries out but doesn't toast and then finely chop.

Begin to layer the lasagne, starting at the base with the squash and sweet potato mixture, then add a layer of pasta followed by the mixture again and repeat until you reach the top of the dish, finishing up with a layer of pasta (remember to leave room for the Sheese topping).

Spread the Sheese sauce out evenly onto the top of the lasagne and bake for around 20mins in the oven at 180°c.

After 20 minutes, remove from the oven and add any extra toppings. In this case, extra sheese, breadcrumbs and squash seeds. Bake for a further 20-25 minutes until the topping is crisp and golden brown and the pasta has cooked.

Serve with a side salad and buttered crusty bread, Rose Lemonade optional.

Bon appétit!


Monday, 23 September 2013

Broccoli, Cauliflower and Kale Soup. An Autumnal Return.

Rocket Bean is back and here to serve you a fairly basic soup recipe that you can add to, chop and change and make all your own! My personal favourite version of this soup is basically the same recipe but with a bunch of Stilton added in to it, however for this post I decided to go with the healthier, vegan option.

When it comes to vegetable stock you can obviously just use store bought stocks (as I did for this recipe) however,  Rose Elliot's 'New Complete Vegetarian' cookbook has a good recipe for a nice and easy vegetable stock. This basically consists of simmering your veg (onion, celery, carrot, potato and parsley) for around 40-60 minutes before draining. The good thing about this stock recipe is that you can freeze or refrigerate until it is needed. 

Serves 6

Ingredients -

1x Head of Broccoli, chopped
1x Head of Cauliflower, chopped
1x Leek, sliced
2x Medium Onions, sliced
2x Cloves of Garlic, sliced
2x Medium Potatoes, sliced
1x Carrot, peeled and sliced
2x Large handfuls of Spinach
2x Large handfuls of Kale
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Herbs to taste (here I am using Thyme, Rosemary and Oregano)
Vegetable stock
Oil for frying

As the soup will be blended at the end, the veg can be fairly roughly chopped for this recipe.

First up, chop your carrot, onions and garlic before adding to a large pan with a little oil, salt and pepper and your preferred herbs. Fry together for around 8-10 minutes over a medium heat to allow the onions to sweat and the flavours to infuse into the carrots. 

Next add in the chopped cauliflower, broccoli, leek and potato and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes. Note: You may want to make this in two batches if you don't have a big enough soup pot.

Now add in the kale and spinach, there's no real need to chop this up as it wilts down pretty quickly once the water is added to the pot and it will blend very easily once cooked as well.

Fill the pot with boiling water to cover the veg and add in your stock. Remember if you are making a large amount of soup to use the right amount of stock. For this large batch of soup I used 2 stock cubes. Bring the soup to the boil and then reduce the heat. Simmer for around 20 minutes until the vegetables have softened. Blend the soup, taste and add any more seasoning you may think it requires. Serve with bread.

Another thing to note is that due to the amount of soup made we had this for lunch over the next few days and it starts to taste even better when it is left for a day or so.

Hope you all had a good summer and are looking forward to some hearty Autumn recipes from RB.