Named the ‘epic’ sweet potato lasagne by its creator, it honestly is epic. When I made the ‘cheese’ sauce, I put it in a pot and took it round the whole family for a taste test, and it was a resounding YES. So good! Even if you’re not vegan, try this cheese sauce in your lasagne. It’s so creamy and cheesy and lovely, and all thanks to our good friend nutritional yeast. You can buy it in all health shops!
I was cooking for 10, with me and my mum being the only veggies, so a tough crowd to please, but as with all mouthwatering vegan recipes, it was such a success. It took me about 3 hours so it was by no means a quick fix, but was well worth the time and effort!
What I particularly like about this recipe is that she breaks it down into sections. So you make the bolognese sauce first, then the cheese sauce, then you begin assembling.
INGREDIENTS FOR BOLOGNESE SAUCE
2 Tbsp (30 ML) olive oil
3 spring onions (scallions), chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 400g tin tomato pulp
1 cup of pre-soaked puy lentils
1 cup of roasted pecan nuts
6 to 8 sun dried tomato halves, chopped
¼ red pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp tomato paste
½ tsp smoked paprika
salt to taste
a drizzle of olive oil
METHOD FOR BOLOGNESE
Heat up the oil in your frying pan (I used a cast iron skillet), and fry your spring onions until slightly golden.
Next, stir in your garlic, and mix until it is slightly golden.
Then add your red pepper and tomato puree, and mix for a couple of minutes.
Now add your vegan mince, and mix again. Then add the remaining ingredients, and simmer gently for 20 minutes until the sauce thickens.
Taste for salt, and set aside.
With this part of the recipe, I was surprised at how much it looks like normal bolognese sauce, and had an almost mincey look to it (ugh mince
meat makes my skin crawl!).
Where the original recipe on her website calls for vegan mince, I replaced with the gluten free option of puy lentils and pecan nuts, as nobody’s ever a fan of fake meat (and makes me feel like a failure of a cook!). I’m so glad I did this, because it worked (almost) perfectly, except I forgot to roast the pecans, then fried them in a pan out of last-minute-panic, and they burnt. You can probably imagine it, me hand picking out the non-burnt, but still scolding hot nuts from the pan, with lots of ooh ahh ooh hot hot hot!
Next up… The EPIC cheese sauce…
INGREDIENTS FOR CHEESE SAUCE
2 cups soya milk, or other non-sweetened milk (I used Alpro)
2Tbsp purpose plain flour (for a thicker sauce, use 3 Tbsp)
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp fine garlic granules
salt (don’t omit)
a knob of vegan butter
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp vegetable stock powder or granules (try Kallo)
a little water if needed
NOTE : For gluten-free or soya-free cheese sauce, use nut milk instead of soya milk, and gluten-free flour instead of wheat flour.
METHOD FOR CHEESE SAUCE
Place all the ingredients in a ‘milk’ pan and whisk.
Heat the mixture up, mixing virtually non-stop, until you have a thickish consistency. Lower the heat, and continue cooking for a further minute or so.
My favourite type of recipe… Throw everything in and HEAT!
So easy, and oh so perfectly tasty. I was whisking for what felt like forever, and actually began to panic. Deep breaths, deep breaths, I kept telling myself! But it was still just the consistency of milk, and hadn’t thickened at all.
As I’ve never tried this recipe, and I had 9 mouths waiting in the next room, I was fully worried it was all about to go wrong. So I stopped whisking, thinking I’d have to look for another white sauce recipe, then I looked in the pan and was like oh my god it’s gone thick! It was like magic, just as I was about to give up, I realised you don’t notice it thicken whilst you’re whisking but it had turned into a creamy treat. I popped it in a pot to let the family try (always good to get people’s taste buds going before a meal!), and it was thumbs up all round. Mmmmmmmm.
So that’s white and red sauce DONE.
Next stop is the assembly.
INGREDIENTS FOR VEGETABLE LAYERS
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled, very thinly sliced
2 courgettes (zucchini), very thinly sliced, skillet fried
Olive oil for drizzling
METHOD FOR ASSEMBLING
Make the Bolognese and cheese sauces as above.
Thinly slice your sweet potatoes, and courgettes. I used a new device I purchased called a ‘Handy’, which lived up to its name !
Preheat your oven to 375ºF (190ºC), and grease a suitable ovenproof dish (mine was circular, around 10” in diameter, and 3” deep).
Fry the zucchini on both sides in a griddle, and set aside.
Start off by covering the base and sides of the oven dish with sweet potatoes – you’ll probably be shocked to see how many slices one potato yields.
Next, add ¼ of your cheese sauce to the base, followed by another layer of potatoes, and the same amount again of Bolognese sauce.
Add in your zucchini with the next layer of potatoes, and continue to add sauce, potato, sauce, etc. until you are left with no sauce, and enough potatoes to make the top layer.
Drizzle olive oil over the potatoes, and add salt, fennel seeds, and smoked paprika on top.
Place in your preheated oven for an hour or so, or until the potatoes crunch up and turn golden. Bon Appétit.
You think ah yeah I’ll just slice the sweet potato. No. There is no just. She had a ‘handy’ device. I had one moderately sharp knife and a lot of determination!
Eventually, I created a mountain of sweet potato, and a mountain of courgette.
It said ‘slice the zucchini’ (American for courgette), and ‘fry in a griddle’. I didn’t really know if I did it right, but it looked AMAZING and by cutting the courgette in long strips it was easier to griddle and also easier to layer in the assembling stage.
Next was the fun bit… And I followed the recipe exactly, except I only did one layer of courgette (wish I’d had more courgette so in future I’d make at least double).
I topped it with the layer of sweet potato, fennel seeds and paprika as instructed, and popped it in the oven for exactly an hour. I doubled the recipe so had leftovers, and made a mini lasagna which consisted mostly of cheese sauce and a few pieces of sweet potato… But waste not want not!
I served with homemade garlic bread and a tomato, cucumber and rocket/mustard leaf salad.
A resounding, epic success.