This vegetarian recipe, a twist on a classic Italian dish, is courtesy of Darina Allen from her latest cookbook Simply Delicious.
"When you consider making lasagne is just a technique then you can ring the changes with all manner of fillings. This simple vegetarian version is unexpectedly delicious. I sometimes use annual marjoram instead of basil with equally delicious results." – Darina Allen
Yield: Serves 6–8
9 sheets of lasagne (choose the thinnest lasagne possible)
900g courgettes, thinly sliced and cooked for 3–4 minutes in extra virgin olive oil
150g Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano Reggiano,
freshly grated 20–30 basil leaves, depending on size
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Béchamel sauce
900ml whole milk
a few slices of carrot
a few slices of onion
3 small sprigs of thyme
3 small sprigs of parsley
9 peppercorns 105g roux (recipe on page 76 of Simply Delicious cookbook)
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
Blanch the lasagne in boiling salted water for a minute or so if it is homemade, or according to the directions on the packet. Drain and lay on a tea towel until needed.
To make the Béchamel sauce, put the milk into a saucepan with the carrot, onion, peppercorns, thyme and parsley. Bring to the boil, simmer for 4–5 minutes, remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
Strain out the vegetables and herbs, bring the milk back to the boil and whisk in the roux to thicken to a light coating consistency. Allow to bubble gently for 4–5 minutes. Season to taste.
Taste the cooked courgettes and make sure they are delicious and well-seasoned. Spread a little Béchamel sauce on the base of a lightly buttered 25.5 x 30.5cm gratin dish, sprinkle with a little grated Parmesan, cover with strips of lasagne, more Béchamel sauce, a sprinkling of Parmesan, half the courgettes and a layer of basil leaves. Next add another layer of lasagne and repeat the previous layer. Cover the final layer of lasagne with sauce and a good sprinkling of Parmesan. (Make sure all the lasagne is coated with sauce.)
Bake for 10–15 minutes or until golden and bubbly on top. If possible, leave to stand for 5–10 minutes before cutting to allow the layers to compact. Serve garnished with extra basil leaves and a good green salad.