Ali Matteini

a life creative

My Cucina Toscana: Super (almost) Vegetarian Lasagne

I hope everyone had a joyful Christmas and NewYear and that between the celebration you’ve had time to relax and find a little space to breathe out.

I don’t know how you feel, but I find the days between Christmas Day and New Year a neat paradox of reflection and force-feeding. I love the social time but I’m always so ready to jump into the new year get back into writing and jewellery-making (and exercise).

I find this space between a great time to sort the wheat from the chaff – to discern what is important, what I need to release and what is worth keeping, be it from the soul or the refrigerator.

Speaking of the fridge…The first recipe for 2016 kicks off with lasagne and this version uses the leftover goodies from the last few days of dinner parties. It’s loaded with vegetables, mascarpone and ricotta, and pancetta left from New Year. You can omit the meat for a vegetarian version (not vegan, sorry; a girl’s gotta eat her ricotta and cream from time to time).

Ingredients

choppedveg

8 sheets lasagne*
1 cup stock
1 tbspn olive oil
1/4 cup pancetta, diced
1 tightly packed cup fresh spinach, shredded
1 cup raw pumpkin, cubed
1 carrot, spiralised**
1 small zucchini, spiralised**
1 large stick celery diced
1/2 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
3 small fresh roma tomatoes, sliced
5 green destoned olives, sliced
ready-made bescamella
1 tbspn mascarpone
3 tbspn ricotta
1 teaspoon sage
1/4 tspn nutmeg
lemon rind of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic, sliced
pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
*If you’re not using fresh lasagne sheets, boil some water and add sheets, two at a time, for a minute immediately before using.
spiraliser
**If you don’t own a spiraliser, such as the one above, you can also use a peeler to whittle down the veg. Or slice the carrot and zucchini but cook until tender before adding to the dish.

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C (not fan forced).
Boil celery in stock for 10 minutes. Remove celery but keep stock aside.
Heat pan and add pancetta, brown, add pumpkin, stir, add spinach and stir well.

pancettapumpkinspinach

Add retained stock, cover and cook on med heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add ricotta, sage, nutmeg and pepper, stirring well. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, add celery to chopped artichokes and mascarpone, add pepper, stir and set aside.

Grease a lasagne tray and lay softened lasagne sheets over bottom of tray. Spoon over the pumpkin ricotta mix and smooth out.
Add about 3 tablespoons of bescemella and then layer with new sheets of lasagne.
For the next level spoon over the celery mix, top with carrot and zucchini (leaving some aside for the top layer), repeat the bescemella and top with lasagne sheets again. For the top, cover with bescemella, then place tomatoes over that, followed by olives, carrots and zucchini, lemon rind, pepper, thyme and garlic.

lasagnelevels

Pop in the oven for 30 minutes, allow to rest for 10 minutes after cooking before serving.

finishedlasagne

We had this absolute joy for lunch with a glass of Morellino di Scansano…though what you see pictured is The Etruscan’s beer in a wine glass. All class.

lasagneserving

Diet starts…most likely never.
Cheers & Ciao, and Happy New Year
Ali xxx

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