Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Menu Planning - Spinach & Lentil Lasagne

Monday: Spinach and Lentil Lasagne
I originally came across this recipe on Towards Sustainability.  So the original copyright for the lasagne lies with Julie (from Towards Sustainability).  As usual, I've played a bit with it and have added white sauce from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Recipes.

The white sauce is great for the creamed spinach but also for white sauce for cauliflower. I know the verdict is split on cauliflower and white sauce but I unashamedly love it!  My plan was to have cauliflower with the roast and to make extra white sauce for this recipe.  The plan also included roasting extra vegies to put in the lasagne and/or chopping extra vegies for use in the stir-fry for Tuesday.

[Of course, I've been insanely busy AND I hurt my neck, so there hasn't been too much following of the plan this week... but maybe I can use this for another week.]

Back to the lasagne: I like to make double-quantity of this as it freezes really well and is a delicious, vegetable-filled, dinner for another night.

500g fresh spinach, roughly chopped
375g low fat ricotta cheese
375g low fat cottage cheese
1 cup low fat cheddar cheese, grated
500g jar pasta sauce
2.5 cups water
300g instant wholemeal lasagne sheets
400g can lentils, drained
2 tbs fresh oregano OR 2 tsp dried
1 clove garlic, crushed
1. Preheat oven to 180'C. Drain spinach well and squeeze out any excess moisture.
2. Mix spinach with ricotta, cottage cheese, lentils, oregano and garlic in a large bowl.
3. Mix pasta sauce with the water in a separate bowl.
4. In a large lasagne dish, alternate layers of sauce, lasagne sheets and cheese mix, ending with sauce. Top with the grated cheese.
5. Cover with foil and bake for 60 minutes. Remove foil and bake a further 15 minutes until cheese is golden. Allow to stand for 3-5 minutes before serving.

Ultimate creamed spinach
Serves 4


500g fresh spinach
1 onion, peeled and cut into thick slices
250ml whole milk
1-2 bay leaves
50g unsalted butter
25g plain flour
sea salt
A couple of twists of black pepper
A few gratings of nutmeg

Trim the spinach, stripping out the coarse central stalks and wash well. Cook the spinach, covered, in a large saucepan – you don’t need to add any water, as the droplets clinging to leaves from when you washed them will be enough. When the leaves are wilted and cooked through, refresh them briefly cold water then squeeze them with your hands to extract as much water as you can before roughly chopping.
Put the onion and bay leaves in a pan with the milk. Bring almost to boiling point, remove from the heat then leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain into a warmed jug, discarding the onion and bay leaves.
Melt the butter in the same pan (you don’t need to wash it) and stir in the flour to get a loose roux. Cook this gently for a couple of minutes, then add half the warm, seasoned milk and stir in. When the sauce is thick and smooth, stir in the rest of the milk. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for just a minute. Season well with salt, pepper and a few grinds of nutmeg.
Next stir in the chopped spinach. Heat through until thoroughly hot, but don’t let it bubble for more than a minute. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and a touch more nutmeg if you like. Serve at once, ladled generously into large warmed bowls.
This recipe has been adapted from The River Cottage Year.