Homemade creamy Bechamel and handmade Lasagna Sheets are the secret of this "melt in your mouth" pasta dish. It takes a bit more time to make the Pasta yourself (you could opt for ready made pasta sheets if you like, just make sure you dont buy the ones that require cooking before using….that adds sooo much trouble, I have been there), but it is actually quicker than you think to make the pasta yourself and keeps the family busy. Plus you can add herbs or color (think spinach or beetroot). A vegan Bechamel (or White Sauce in the UK) is super quickly done, is super cheap and tastes sooo much better. Plus you dont have the nasty ingredients like hidden sugar or preservatives.
Ingredients (makes one big tray with about 5-6 layers, feeds 8):
- 600g plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp dried sage (optional)
- 300ml water
- 6 TBSP olive oil
- 75g vegan margarine
- 50g plain flour
- pinch of salt
- pinch of black pepper
- 800ml Plantmilk ( Soy works best for me..)
- 400g texturized soy protein ( or frozen vegan mince)
- 500ml tomato sauce/passata
- 140g tomato puree
- 1 onion
- herbs like basil, rosemary and thyme (fresh or dried)
- pinch of sugar
- 500ml vegan stock
- grated Violife (or other vegan Cheeze)
Making the Pasta:
1. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl.
2. Form a little hole in the centre and add the olive oil and water.
3. Mix it using a fork until its "flaky". Add the Sage (optional).
4. Start kneading with your hand, best is on a flat surface, dusted with flour until the dough forms a smooth soft ball. If it is sticky&/too soft add more flour, if it is to dry add a little bit more olive oil.
5. Wrap it in cling film and leave it in the fridge for 20 minutes.
6. After taking the chilled dough out of the fridge cut it in 5-6 pieces and roll it into thin layers. You can use a rolling pin or a pasta maker/pasta machine. Dont forget to dust your work surface or the pasta machine with flour.
7. Roll it out until it is very thin, almost "see through". The dough is elastic enough to do so.
8. Dust them with a little flour and put them aside.
Making the Bechamel / White Sauce:
1. Melt the margarine in a pot.
2. Stir in the flour until it thickens to a paste, keep on stiring, you dont want it to stick to the bottom of your pot.
3. Working very quickly now add the plantmilk and keep on stirring until it turns into a creamy white sauce. Add the pinch of salt and a bit of black pepper. If it is too thickly add a bit more plantmilk. Take it of the heat when it is creamy. It will thicken a bit more when cooling down, so let it "sit a bit" aside before using it for the Lasagna. You have time to prepare the bolognese ragout now:).
Making the Bolognese / Ragout:
(I opted for a super quick simple version without much cooking, if you want to use your own favorite homemade recipe go for it!)
1. Pour the hot vegetable stock over your dry texturized soy protein. Let it soak for about 5-6minutes. You can add the herbs already. If you are using frozen vegan mince ( Morrisons or Tescos is very tasty!) you can fry it with your onion and garlic in the next step.
2. Cut the Onion and the garlic and slightly fry both in olive oil in a pan, add the tomato sauce (passata) and tomato puree.
3. Add a pinch of sugar and a pinch of salt.
4. Mix it with your soy protein and you are ready to go...
Making the Lasagna:
1. Cover your deep tray with a sheet of baking parchment. Makes it much easier when cleaning ;-).
2. Using a large spoon cover the bottom with a first thin layer of the bolognese (some people start with a pasta sheet, but I find that makes it difficult to get the Lasagna out later.)
3. Now add the first layer of pasta sheets. Roll them out to the perfect size or use pieces of different sizes, a little bit like jigsaw. Both works fine and makes no difference in the end. Make sure the ragout is fully covered.
4. Now add the next layer of ragout, followed by a layer of white sauce.
5. Next layer is again a sheet of pasta, again followed by bolognese ragout an the bechamel.
6. Keep on doing that until you run out of filling, I try to cover my last layer of pasta sheet only with the white sauce and add the grated vegan cheeze on top.
7. Bake it in the oven for about 30 minutes on 190*Celsius or until the vegan cheeze turns a bit golden at the edges.