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A couple of days ago Radha Ramana and I had some mouth watering craving for lasagna, so we searched into one of Kurma Prabhu’s recipe book, and we found this excellent lasagna recipe. It is very simple to follow that even for somebody like me who haven’t cooked a lasagna in my entire life has no problem at all. Of course, with the help of my partner in crime, cooking lasagna for the first time is not just fun, but also a memorable gastric enticement experienced to relished!

The lasagna was “plump” because I didn’t wait and let it set for an hour, but it’s still oishi together with a simple salad!

Vegetarian Lasagna

By: Kurma Prabhu

Preparation and Cooking: 1 1/2 hours

Baking time: 45 minutes

Yield: 1 tray of lasagna, 30 cm x 20 cm x 8 cm (12 in x 8 in x 3 in )

This lasagna has five distinct ingredients: pasta, tomato sauce, bechamel sauce, spinach, and cheese.

Pasta

about fifteen 17 cm x 17 cm (7 in x 7 in) sheets of instant lasagna (400 g, or about 14 ounces)

Tomato Sauce

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp yellow asafoetida powder

1 cup chopped fresh basil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried marjoram

2 bay leaves

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 medium eggplant, diced 3 medium diced peppers

24 medium tomato blanched, peeled, and chopped, or six 250 g tins Italian tomatoes cut into cubes (keep the juice)

1/2 cup black olives, chopped

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tsp salt

1 tsp brown sugar

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Bechamel Sauce

1/2 cup melted butter

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup sifted plain flour

4 cups warm milk

Spinach

1 large bunch of spinach leaves, separated, stalks removed, washed, blanched in boiling water and drained.

Cheese

375 g grated cheddar cheese

250 g grated mozzarella cheese

60 g grated parmesan cheese

1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese, reserved for garnish

To cook the tomato sauce:

1. Heat the olive oil under a moderate heat in a large, heavy-based saucepan. When hot, add th asafoetida. Saute momentarily; then add the fresh basil,oregano, marjoram, bay leaves, and black pepper and saute for another few seconds.

2. Add the eggplant cubes and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the peppers, and stirring occasionally, cook them with th eggplant pieces until both are softened (about 3 or 4 mins).

3. Add the tomatoes and olives and stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat slightly, and cook uncovered, stirring often, for about 1/2 hour or until it reduces and thickens. Add tomato paste, sugar,salt, and parsley, mix well, and remove from the heat.

To cook the Bechamel Sauce:

1. Place the melted butter in a heavy saucepan over a low heat and stir in the nutmeg, black pepper, and flour and saute until the mixture darkens slightly (about 1/2 min). Remove from the heat.

2. Gradually pour in the warm milk, stirring with a whisk until the sauce is smooth. Return to moderate heat and stir until it boils. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens to a thick-custard consistency (about 5 mins.)

To assemble the lasagna:

1. Combine all 3 cheese (except the reserved parmesan) in a bowl. Divide the tomato sauce and bechamel sauce into 3. Divide the cheese and spinach into 2. Divide the pasta into 5.

2. Spread one-third of the tomato sauce in the bottom of the tomato tray. Place one-fifth of the pasta sheets on top. Spread on one-third of the bechamel sauce then another one-fifth of the pasta. Spread one-half of the spinach leaves; then sprinkle half of the grated cheese on top.

3. Repeat this process twice more and you should end up with the bechamel sauce on top. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Place the lasagna in the top of a pre-heated 200 degree C/ 300 degree F oven and cook for 30 -45 minutes or until the top is slightly golden and the pasta “gives” when you stick a knife in it.It’s best to let the lasagna set for at least another hour before serving, as this”plumps” the pasta. Cut into squares and serve.

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