Lasagne with Vegetarian Multi-purpose Pasta Sauce

2013-06-30
vegetarian multi-purpose pasta sauce - lasagne 1vegetarian multi-purpose pasta sauce - lasagne 2
  • Yield : 1.5lt
  • Servings : 6
  • Prep Time : 30m
  • Cook Time : 1m
  • Ready In : 2m

Ingredients

  • 200g Celery – finely chopped
  • 100g Onion – finely chopped
  • 200g Zucchini – finely grated
  • 100g Carrots – finely grated
  • 4 – 6 cloves garlic – finely grated
  • 2 small red chilies – left whole
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 bay leaves
  • ½ cup parsley with stalks – finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup wine
  • 1 bottle Passata (tomato puree/sauce)
  • 1 can chopped tomato + water (optional) see variations
  • 1 teaspoon salt & sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Ingredients for assembling lasagne:

2 litre oven-proof dish

6 to 8 Lasagne sheets bought or home-made

6 hard-boiled eggs – roughly chopped (optional)

1 cup each of grated Mozzarella and tasty cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan.

Method

Firstly, cook the sauce. In a heavy base saucepan on medium heat add the oil. When hot add the onion, garlic, bay leaves and celery. Let the mixture cook till soft and golden in colour, approx 20 minutes, if necessary reduce the heat during cooking to avoid burning the mixture.  Add the wine and increase the heat to ‘reduce’ it by half, cook further roughly about 3 to 5 minutes longer.

Now add all of the remaining sauce ingredients leaving half of the basil for later. Mix well and bring to boil. Cover and simmer the sauce for approximately 1.5 hours, stirring to ensure that the sauce cooks evenly and that it does not stick to the base. When cooked add the remaining basil and check for seasoning.

When the sauce has cooled you may assemble the lasagne.  Lasagne sheets may be bought fresh. If not cook the lasagne sheets by following the directions on the packet. It is a good idea to use a dish that is the same size as the lasagne sheets otherwise fresh or cooked sheets can be cut to size to fit a dish easily done when the sheets are soft. When ready to assemble dd a large spoonful of the sauce at the base of the dish to evenly cover the bottom of the dish. Now add a layer of lasagne sheet to cover the sauce followed by another layer of sauce with a sprinkling of equal quantity of cheeses and egg if used. The last top layer should only contain sauce and the combined cheeses. Cover with glad bake then foil and when ready bake at 170 degree for approximately 40 minutes then uncover for the last 10 minutes to let the cheese brown a little and then serve.

Pasta sauce Variations and Suggestions and Lasagna Hints

Instant lasagne sheets which are still hard from a packet will require lots of sauce during cooking and little longer time for the sheets to become soft like the fresh ones.  In my opinion a better option is to use lasagna sheets that are softened in boiling water or bought freshly. These sheets absorb less sauce because they are already moist to begin with and also requires less cooking. As a general rule of thumb it is better to have your pasta sauce a little runnier for lasagna and thicker for pouring over pasta. If you are using this sauce recipe purely for lasagna it would be best to add 1 or 2 cups of extra water during the beginning stage of cooking and use this water to rinse out the emptied sauce bottle and can to avoid wastage of what’s left behind. Avoid eggs if this recipe is to be used as a vegan meal, instead layer the sheets with wilted spinach, char-grilled zucchini, semi cooked eggplants, sun-dried tomatoes… the list goes on…..  Chilies left whole in the sauce can be used by those who like their sauce hot by mashing it on their plate and mixing into their sauce or discard it if used in lasagna if not mashed into the sauce before assembling the lasagna.

This sauce now is ready for using for pizzas, marinara sauce, risotto, soups, casseroles, stews or in any Italian or Mediterranean cooking, zucchini can be optional and it could be replaced with extra celery and onions instead.   To save time it is always best to make double the quantity and freeze half so that it is available when needed later.

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