This is the best vegetarian lasagne you’ll ever make. High praise I know, there’s nothing like setting yourself up for a fall but I really believe it. Lasagnes are one of those meals that have been done to death, diluted and destroyed by frozen food manufacturers.
When we first opened the restaurant, one of the things that I promised myself is that we would never serve a vegetable lasagne as the vegetarian option. It is the fallback/default veggie option in many restaurants and I think it’s just lazy. Most of them are a frozen, watery, disgusting, flavourless disgrace. Enough ranting…. I also said we would never serve chips or Traditional Sunday Lunch, ha! That didn’t last very long, Sunday lunch was the best thing we ever did and chips are what the people want. It was a steep learning curve.
So when I first started this blog over a year ago now, to show that vegetarian food doesn’t have to boring and it’s not just about frozen veggie lasagnes, I vowed I would never post a recipe for one. That is how good this is, I’m a stubborn cow and I’m prepared to admit defeat here. It has layers of tortillas, chargrilled veg, garlic mushrooms, sour cream, goats cheese and grated Cheddar but the best thing is the red pepper sauce. It’s made from roasted red peppers, tomato , red onion and chipotle chilli sauce. It has a sweet, smoky, spicy flavour that brings the whole dish alive.
Mexican salsa verde is generally made with tomatillos. Tomatillos are small green tomato like things in a papery case. In the absence of tomatillos I used green tomatoes. It’s the end of the tomato season here and there are still plenty of green tomatoes growing where we walk the dog. I don’t think they are ever going to turn red.
To make the salsa verde you put the green tomatoes, onion and green chilli on a baking tray and roast them. This intensifies the flavour adding a slight smokey char to the fresh zingyness of the green tomatoes when they are blended with fresh lime juice & coriander. You can also add some avocado to make it a bit creamier and to tone down the chillis a bit. Or you can make a guacamole aswell like I did.
Mexican Tortilla Lasagne with Roasted Salsa Verde
Serves 6, vegetarian. Adapted from Anjum Anand
Prep time: 1 hour Cooking Time: 50-55 mins
For the Red Pepper Sauce:
- 1 jar/tin, roasted red peppers (about 200-250 gr), drained
- about 100 ml tomate frito /puree tomato/tomato passata
- 4 or 5 tsp chipotle chilli sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large red onion, finely chopped
- 4 or 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp palm sugar/brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (vegetarian)
Blend the drained peppers, tomato puree, chipotle sauce, sugar, cumin & Worcestershire sauce in a food processor until smooth.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook the onions and a pinch of salt for 4-5 minutes until softened, then add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add to the processor with the red pepper sauce and blend again. Season with salt & black pepper and taste.
Pour this back into the pan and cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes until reduced slightly and thickened. Add a few splashes of stock or water to loosen to a thick creamy sauce. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
For the Lasagne:
- 2 or 3 tbsp olive oil
- 500 gr mixed mushrooms, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- olive oil
- 1 courgette, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 2 small red peppers, seeds and membrane removed, cut into 8 pieces each
- 1/2 aubergine, thinly sliced lengthways or 10 asparagus spears, trimmed & blanched
- 8 flour tortillas
- 200 ml sour cream/greek yoghurt
- 150 gr soft goats cheese or feta
- 150 gr grated cheddar, plus and extra handful for the top (I used a mixture of red leicester & manchego)
Preheat the oven to 190 C. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add in the mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes until browning. Reduce the heat, season with salt & black pepper, thyme & oregano. Cook for a minute then cover with lid. Cook for another 2 minutes until the mushrooms are tender.
Push the mushrooms to one side of the pan, add another tbsp olive oil to the other side and fry the chopped garlic in the oil for 1 or 2 minutes until starting to colour. Them mix the garlic and mushrooms together, cook for a minute then set aside.
Heat a griddle pan over a high heat. Brush all the veg on both sides with olive oil, then cook for 1-2 minutes per side in batches until all the veg is cooked. Season with salt & black pepper.
Place two tortillas, overlapping slightly in the bottom of a lasagne dish, trim to fit if necessary. Spread over 3-4 tbsp of the red pepper sauce then scatter over a third of the chargrilled veg then a third of the mushrooms. Spread over 3-4 tbsp of the sour cream then crumble over a third of the goats cheese followed by a third of the grated cheese. Repeat this two more times then top with a final layer of tortillas and spread with the red sauce.
Scatter over another handful of grated cheese then cover the dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for another 10-15 minutes until the cheese is browned & bubbling.
Cut into 6 squares and serve with salsa verde and/or guacamole.
For the Roasted Salsa Verde:
- 2 large green tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 1 large onion, peeled & cut into wedges
- 1 or 2 green chillis ( depending how hot you like it)
- 3-4 cloves garlic in their skins
- a big bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 tsp palm sugar/brown sugar or to taste
- salt & black pepper
Preheat oven to 200 C. Put the tomato and onion wedges on a lined baking sheet along with the whole chillis and garlic. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt & black pepper.
Roast for 15 mins then remove the garlic & chillis and set aside to cool. Put the rest back in the oven for about 25 minutes until the tomatoes and onions have softened and slightly browned.
Peel or squeeze the garlic out of their skins into a food processor. Remove the stalks from the chillis (and seeds if you don’t want it hot) and put them in the processor too.
When the tomatoes & onions are done tip them into the processor too and blend until smooth. Add the lime juice, fresh coriander, sugar, salt & pepper. Blend again and taste. You may want to add more lime/salt/sugar (or avocado if you like it milder). Add a little water to loosen it if you like it smoother and more liquidy.
For the guacamole:
- 2 avocados, halved, seed removed, flesh scooped out into a bowl
- 1 lime, juiced
- a big handful of fresh coriander, chopped
- a handful of spring onions/red onions, finely chopped
- 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 green chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
- salt & black pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
Pour the lime juice over the avocado in the bowl straight away to stop it turning brown. Add all the other ingredients and either mash with a fork, cut roughly with a knife in the bowl, (for chunky) blend with a stick blender ( for smooth) or bash in a mortar and pestle until you get your preferred consistency. Taste and adjust lime, salt to taste.
Have a fabulous weekend what ever you’re doing. I’m attempting to make a Christmas wreath for the front door out of winter plants, twigs, berries and bits of tree I have collected in the “campo” this morning. Wish me luck…. !!