Filling and flavoursome. Serve with spring greens, french beans and garlic bread.
We call this 'Pasta Layered Bake' as Ralph (my son) refuses to eat 'Lasagne', due to his preconceptions of a creamy, cheesy dish. You could add cheese, as you layer up, just grate in as required. I prefer a saucey, juicy lasagna; you can adjust your red and white sauces to suit your taste.
My kids aren't into mushrooms but by grating and cooking them with garlic and herbs you get the fantastic flavours rather then the texture they turn their noses up at. Kids love grating mushrooms, so get them involved. Chopping the spinach finely makes it easy for the kids to chew and swallow. Again, get them helping, they can snip at the wilted spinach with scissors. You may be surprised by what your kids will eat when its prepped by them and there are no surprises.
You'll need an oven proof dish, roughly; 20cm x35cm x6cm deep
500g pack of dried lasagna sheets.
2 tbs Pure spread (or fat of your preference)
2 tbs Olive Oil
6 tbs Flour (I use Spelt 50/50 wht/brown)
1 pint milk -Soya or oat (unsweetened)
Large glug Olive Oil
1 Large Red Onion
4 Cloves Garlic
Large pinch Fresh or dried mixed Italian herbs
Dash Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tins of Whole Tomatoes
250g Chestnut Mushrooms
2 Cloves Garlic
Large Pinch Rosemary and thyme (fresh if poss)
250g Fresh Spinach
6 Sprigs of fresh Basil
Pre heat oven to 200C
For the White Sauce
Melt the oil and fat in a pan on medium heat.
Keep the heat on low as you add the flour slowly, constantly stirring, until you've got a soft dough.
Cook and stir for 2 mins.
Grate in a generous amount of black pepper and a fair dusting of nutmeg.
Add the milk slowly, whisking the whole time, until its roughly the consistency of single cream.
Cook and stir for 5 mins, do not boil and make sure its not catching on the bottom.
Put the sauce aside, it may set a little when you come to use it. Whisk in a little extra milk or water to loosen. If you've got lumps, cheat, use a hand-held whizzer!
For the Red Sauce
Finely chop onion and grate garlic.
Fry onion for about 4 mins in the (already warmed) olive oil, add the garlic, then the herbs, Tamari and balsamic. Cook and stir for 3 mins.
Open the tin toms, use scissors to chop them whilst in tin, add them to the cooking onions. Stir, add lid and leave to simmer for 20 mins.
Again use your hand whizzer if you prefer a super-smooth sauce.
Grate the garlic, wash and grate mushrooms
Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan, add garlic, mushrooms, rosemary and thyme. Cook until soft and most liquid has evaporated. Set aside.
Wash spinach well in a colander. Pour boiling water over the spinach; whilst the colander is in a sink! You made need to do this twice to wilt properly. Using scissors chop the spinach finely.
Spread a thin layer of the red sauce over the base of your dish, then arrange a single layer of pasta sheets over the top, break sheets if needed.
Next spread a thin layer of white sauce* with blk pepper over the sheets.
Keep going; red sauce, pasta, white sauce until you run out, finish with white sauce.
Alternate with mushrooms or spinach in the white sauce layers.
Add torn leaves of fresh basil to the red sauce layers. Finish with black pepper and bake for 40 mins. I cover mine with tin-foil for the first 20 mins of cooking.
Ella lives in Sussex with her husband and two young kids. After 10 years as a fashion designer she changed her lifestyle to bring up the children. She has a small start-up company with a friend selling children’s Teepees. Currently they’re building a house from scratch, grand designs style. Being a creative person; producing healthy family meals is simply an extension of this. There are, of course some creative culinary disasters along the way...