Sunday 29 July 2007

Lasagne and the Boy Wizard

I have a confession to make! I spent the day yesterday reading the latest Harry Potter book. I have read all the others and I know they are very readable and enjoyable. I bought the book Thursday, after ascertaining that the copies I was aware of had a list of people in line to borrow them, and I knew Saturday was free for reading. So I emerged at 5.30pm, finally knowing what happened to the boy wizard!

The price for the luxury of reading all day was that I didn’t have time for other things I had hoped to fit in my day like swimming and grocery shopping. I had good intentions but I was determined to finish the book so I wasn’t reading it in drib and drabs over the next few weeks. Reading a book all at once is so satisfying until the end when you wish you still had chapters of reading ahead.

So it was that around 6, I finally had decided what to cook for dinner and headed off to the supermarket. I had been existing on biscuits and cheese on toast during the day so I needed something easy and full of vegetables. I decided to make a lasagne that I had found on the web some months ago. Emily B had posted a recipe for Sauceless Garden Lasagne. She was inspired by too many tomatoes and zucchinis in her garden. I don’t make lasagne that often because I struggle to find the time and energy to make the pasta sauce, the white sauce and then wait for it to cook. So I was attracted to this recipe which seemed quick and simple.

This is a great sauceless lasagne recipe. I tried another similar recipe where you don’t need to cook the sauce but it had ricotta and didn’t taste fantastic. This one is really tasty. I think the interesting mix of vegetables and the balsamic vinegar are a big part of the success of it. I really enjoyed the rich tang of vinegar. I got to the supermarket too late to buy basil (if there had ever been any yesterday – a note alongside the basil said that some herbs were unavailable due to drought). So I used some store-bought pesto sauce. It worked well but I would be interested to try fresh basil and oregano at some stage.

Best of all, it didn’t have the heavy taste I often associate with lasagne. The vegetables were just cooked and still fresh tasting. The one drawback was the amount of time it took to chop all the veggies. Emily B did more slicing than dicing so she would probably have spent less time chopping. In fact, I am not sure it was that much quicker than making pasta sauce. But it was worth it.

Sauceless Garden Lasagne
(adapted from Emily B at
Serves 6

1 medium zucchini, diced
½ red onion, chopped finely
2 portobello mushrooms, chopped
1 scant cup grated tasty cheese
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons chilli olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp pesto
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
150g fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
300g no-cook lasagne noodles
12 roma (plum) tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly coat a 23 x 35cm baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together the zucchini, red onion, mushrooms, garlic, tasty cheese, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pesto, sugar, salt and pepper. Add spinach and stir to coat with mixture.

Place a layer of tomatoes and a layer of mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan. Then place a layer of lasagne noodles. I did another 2 layers of tomato, vegetable mixture and noodles and then a final layer of tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Make a layer of tomato slices over the noodles. Emily says to be generous with the vegetable mixture as it shrinks when cooking but mine was a larger pan than hers and I could have used more. She had lasagna noodles on the bottom and a layer of tomatoes and vegetables and cheese on top which I might try if I make again.

Bake for 35 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven, until noodles, and vegetables are tender. I had it in 60 minutes and found I needed it covered with foil for the last 20 minutes because it had browned enough but I think I needed the vegetables as well as tomatoes on top to help cook the lasagne noodles.

On the Stereo:
Listen, Listen: an Introduction to: Sandy Denny


  1. Would love to be a part of all this excitement about the last book but I never did get into Harry Potter. Glad you enjoyed it.
    The lasagne looks lovely. :)

  2. The Hp magic! I am trying to finish my other book before getting to HP. :D

    And the lasagna sounds really nice. I know I'll love it.

  3. The lasagne looks delicious and full of healthy green veggies! What a shock coming from the GGG herself!
    I haven't gotten the latest book yet, but I am really looking forward to it!

  4. That sounds amazing!

    Like you I find Lasagne a long process as I usually make a bolognaise sauce and a bechamel sauce to layer through the pasta. But then again, it is a great dish when you have guests! I will definitely try it this way, it has a lot of my favourite ingredients in it!

    I haven't finished HP yet! I had a big splurge when I got it on Saturday, but I have been out and about all week, so I will be reading the last few chapters in smaller portions! I am really enjoying it. I know I will be so sad when I have finished it!

  5. Glad you managed to get a hold of the book. I loved it and read it in one sitting too - though I had to wrestle with the step-sons for first reading.

    Great fast recipe - lasagne does always seem to be time consuming.

  6. thanks Wendy - I got into harry potter years ago thanks to having librarians for in-laws - if only I was in Edinburgh I would have known I could have borrowed their copy and not had to buy it! But the pottermania hype is sometimes a bit much!

    Good luck with finishing HP Anh - I really enjoyed it - and hope you enjoy the lasagna too - third night in a row tonight and we still loved it!

    thanks Jenn - the oodles of green veggies were definitely a big plus with this recipe!

    thanks Holler - you and I think alike with lasagne - it is such a great dish for entertaining but it does take work - it was sad to finish HP but at least if you don't read it all at once you get to savour it a bit!

    thanks Lucy - yes was good to finally get hold of HP - a great read! No wonder your stepsons battled you for it :-)

  7. A day of reading can be just wonderful and this lasagne looks pretty wonderful as well. Sounds delicious!

  8. thanks Truffle - yes, the lasagne was a good end to an enjoyable day!


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