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Rowena's Mediterranean Vegetable Lasagne (from Delia's Vegetarian Collection)




For the lasagne:
1 small aubergine
2 medium courgettes
450g cherry tomatoes, skinned
1 small yellow or red pepper, deseeded & cut into 2.5cm squares
9 sheets of dried spinach lasagne (that needs no pre-cooking)
1 large onion, peeled, sliced & cut into 2.5cm squares
2 fat cloves garlic, peeled & crushed
2 tablespoons torn fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
50g pitted black olives, chopped
1 heaped tablespoon capers
75g mozzarella, grated
sea salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the sauce:
35g plain flour
40g butter
570ml (a pint) of milk
1 bay leaf
grating of fresh nutmeg
3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
Plus 1 tablespoon for the topping
Salt & freshly milled black pepper

You will also need:
a large, shallow roasting tin
a heatproof baking dish
measuring 23 x 23 x 5cm  (9 x 9 x 2 inches)

  1. Heat the oven to 240C, 475F or Gas Mark 9.
  2. Prepare the aubergine & courgettes ahead of time by cutting them into 1 inch dice, leaving the skins on. Toss them in about 1 dessertspoon of salt and pack them into a colander with a plate on top and a heavy weight on top of the plate. Leave them to one side for about an hour, so that some of the bitter juices drain out.
  3. Next squeeze out any juices left, and dry the aubergine and courgettes thoroughly in a clean cloth.  
  4. Now arrange the tomatoes, aubergine, courgettes, pepper and onion in the roasting tin. Sprinkle with the crushed garlic, basil and olive oil, toss everything around in the oil to get a good coating, and season with salt & pepper.  
  5. Then place the tin on the highest shelf of the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the vegetables are toasted brown at the edges.  
  6. Meanwhile make the sauce by placing all the ingredients (except the cheese) in a small saucepan and whisking continuously over a medium heat until the sauce boils and thickens. Then turn the heat down to its lowest and let the sauce cook for 2 minutes. Now add the grated parmesan.
  7. When the vegetables are done, remove them from the oven and stir in the chopped olives and the capers.
  8. Turn the oven down to 180C, 350F or Gas Mark 4.
  9. Now into the baking dish pour one-quarter of the sauce, followed by one-third of the vegetable mixture.
  10. Then sprinkle in a third of the mozzarella and follow this with a single layer of lasagne sheets. Repeat this process, ending up with a final layer of sauce, then sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of grated parmesan over the top.
  11. Now place the dish in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is crusty and golden. All this needs is a plain lettuce salad with a lemony dressing as an accompaniment.
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