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After yesterday’s fast (not to mention yesterday’s stress!) I am definitely feeling like some full-on comfort food. Plus, I’ve been running round with the boys at Bicton Park for most of today and definitely need some re-energising, especially as I have a whole evening of embroidering and relabelling ahead of me with my business partner! (But I will confess that after the work is done, we are planning on putting our feet up with a glass of wine each and watching Birdsong…)

This variation on a traditional lasagne tends to go down well with all the family, as the boys are both pasta freaks and love anything that is coated in melted cheese. This one won’t help your waist-line, but is still packed full of tasty veg and has a lush, rich flavour! You’ll never turn back to traditional mince again! (Well, at least not for a week or so.)

So, without further ado.

Taste of the Med Lasagne

You will need:

1) 8-10 lasagne sheets (cheap supermarket basics are fine.)

2) 1 good sized aubergine, cut into small chunks

3) 1 courgette, cut into chunks

4) 1 yellow and 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into strips

5) 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

6) 2 red onions, chopped into crescent wedges

7) Parmesan (vegetarian if needed!) grated finely, to sprinkle on top

8) Olive oil, around 5tbsp

For the sauce:

1) A small bowlful of cheddar cheese (again, veggie if needed!)

2) 50g butter

3) 50g plain flour

4) Around 600ml milk

5) ground nutmeg, a pinch

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How To Do It:

1) Preheat the oven to 220c. Chop all your vegetables, pop them in generous roasting tin and mix with the oil. Bake for around 20- 30 mins, until soft and crisp at the edges (not burnt! Just keep an eye…)

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2) Towards the end of the roasting time, start preparing your cheese sauce. I’m a terrible one for just guessing amounts and making it so it ‘feels right’, but for those not too comfortable with the ‘guess and see how it turns out method…

A) Begin by melting your butter on the hob, over a fairly high heat.

B) Pour in the flour, and using a spoon, mix really thoroughly (I say spoon, as you can get to all the flour in the edges of the pan then!)

C) Start adding the milk ASAP and now is the time to use your whisk. Continually. Add the milk little by little, bring it to boiling point and then allowing it to thicken as you lower the heat to a simmer. Too thick? Add a bit more milk. 600ml is only a rough estimate, it’s better to add too little and then thin the sauce out by adding more, than adding loads and having to add flour (which is a bit of a nightmare.)

D) Once the sauce is smooth, take it off the heat and add the cheddar. Be aware, the cheddar will make the sauce thicker! Finally, sprinkle in the pinch of nutmeg.

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(Don’t do what I did and accidentally tip half a bag of flour in. In my defence, I had a two year old suddenly ram a skateboard into my leg, which jolted me somewhat. Not to mention made me swear rather loudly. Fortunately, I had a spoon at hand to scoop it out…and yes, I was tempted to rap said two year old on the head with it too, but resisted.)

3) Start layering your lasagne in an oven-proof dish. Everyone has their own theories on correct orders, with this vegetable one, I like to pop a really thin layer of sauce on the bottom, then lasagne sheets, then veg…then repeat until I’ve got lasagne sheets and sauce on top, as many times as I can get away with!

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A work in progress…

4) When complete (and a handy tip- if you want those lasagne sheets to cook, get them as covered in the sauce as possible, top and bottom) sprinkle the Parmesan on top and bake for around 20-30 mins. I’ve also sprinkled nutmeg on top, as I forgot to add it to the sauce earlier!

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5) Remove from the oven…

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6) …And serve!

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Total Cost: Less than you’d think. I used supermarket ‘basics’ peppers, which instantly brought the cost right down, plus basics lasagne sheets, which are pennies to buy. The total was around £4.00, including estimates on stuff I had in already, such as cheese and flour etc. So, £1.00 a head!

The Verdict?
This is an excellent recipe for kids. The nutmeg sweetens up the cheese sauce just enough to appeal to little’uns, and the colours are lovely and bright too. Again, they spurned the aubergine (I just can’t seem to convince them on that one….) but the rest was eaten! My personal verdict is that this is a really tasty filling meal and perfect for eating wholesome food, without the price tag!

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