Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chicken, lentil and vegetable lasagna

Suprisingly this might be one of the best lasagnas I have ever eaten, and the men and the kids happily ate it too (well the 4yr picked out the spinach). It sounds a bit healthy but all the white sauce and cheese makes up for that and it is very filling and full of vegies. This is based on a lentil lasagna recipe from the back of an Edgell's tin that my friend Jenny (also the source of the fantastic brownie recipe) gave me. I have made the original version which was good but it was even better with chicken. I am still off red meat so this satisfied my lasagna craving without having to cook beef mince. I prepared the lasagna last night, then tonight I just had to put it in the oven, so easy.
Chicken, lentil and vegetable lasagna
serves 6+
This makes a large dish of lasagna (mine is 20x30cm), if you don't need that much then halve the recipe or cook two smaller lasagnas and freeze one, or freeze half the sauce for next time you want lasagna. You will need a very large frying pan with high sides to cook the sauce, if yours isn't then fry each step in a frypan then transfer to a larger pot.You could use any meat in place of the chicken or leave it out, and add whatever vegies you like or have.

olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, grated
1/3 sweet potato, grated
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 zucchini, finely diced
1/2 eggplant, finely diced
alternate vegetable options: mushrooms, pumpkin...
500g chicken mince
400g tin of brown lentils, undrained
800g tin tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
handful basil, chopped
2 packets lasagna sheets (enough for 3 layers in your dish)
handful grated mozzarella
White Sauce (if including spinach ricotta layer you will only need 2 C worth)
90g butter
5 tbsp flour
3 C milk
3 handfuls grated cheese (tasty or mozzarella)
Spinach and Ricotta layer (optional)
200g ricotta
3 C baby spinach, stems removed

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil and fry onion, carrot and sweet potato over low heat until softened. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Scrape onion mix into a bowl (or larger pan if your frypan is too small).

Heat a bit more oil in the frypan and fry zucchini and eggplant over medium heat until browning and softened. Add to onion mix.

Fry chicken mince, breaking it up as it cooks. When nearly cooked through add vegetables back in. Add lentils, tomatoes and paste, simmer for 15 minutes.

To make bechamel, melt butter in a saucepan. Add flour and stir with a whisk for a couple of minutes. Gradually add milk and continuing whisking to form a smooth paste. Continue stirring over low heat until thickened.

Microwave the spinach to wilt (about 30 seconds). Then pat dry on a teatowel and chop. Stir through the ricotta.

To assemble, spread a little lentil sauce over the base of a 20 x 30 cm lasagne dish. Cover with a layer of lasagne sheets, a 1/3 of the lentil sauce and a 1/3 of the white sauce. Repeat layering, replacing the white sauce in this layer with spinach and ricotta mix if using (it is easier to layer this first then lentil sauce). Finish layers with lentil sauce, white sauce and a sprinkling of cheese.

You can make it in advance up to this point and refridgerate, I prepared it the night before.

Bake in a preheated oven at 190 C (375 F) for 25 to 30 minutes, longer if it has been refridgerated.


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