Lasagne with Lentils & Spinach Pesto
A vegan version of lasagne packed with lots of vegetables, red lentils, a creamy ‘cheese’ sauce and to make it even more special. One for all the family.
As you know, I’m naturally drawn to spices; Indian and Middle Eastern food makes my belly happy and my soul excited, so I fill my days with nothing but these delicious dishes!
But it also means that sometimes I can forget just how delicious Mediterranean food can be. I particularly love Italian flavours–they are renowned for not only their quality cooking but for their ultimate passion and communal rituals and love they pour in every dish.
They also utilise home-grown produce, (which is something that is super close to my heart) that is just bursting with fresh farm-to-table flavour and authenticity.
My heart (and belly) is often fond of a superb and rich tomato sauce, you know the kind, the ones that make you want to lick the plate clean and savour every bountiful flavoursome forkful–especially when paired with a drizzle or two of a high quality olive oil and fresh sourdough.
But it’s been absolutely years since I last ate or even made lasagne, so I just knew that had to change ASAP.
Like a lot of Italian dishes, lasagne evokes fond memories; my mum used to make the most delicious lasagne and as I recreated that layer by layer, it reminded me just how therapeutic and delicious the combination of soft but with a slight bite al dente style pasta, melting and oozing ‘cheese’ sauces and a whole variation of seasonal veggies could be.
So I present to you my homage to the Italian classic–my Vegan version of Lasagne packed with lots of vegetables, red lentils, a creamy ‘cheese’ sauce and to make it even more special I’ve layered it with the most deliciously fresh and zingy spinach and walnut pesto, that you are going to want to put on EVERYTHING!
I made this for my friends the other night after telling them all about my newest creation and they loved it just as much as I did!
Phew! I can always rely on them to give honest (sometimes too honest) feedback, so I’m counting this one as a winner!
This dish takes a little of time to make each component right, from the delectable and rich tomato and lentil filling, to the oozy cheesy sauce, but each step is super simple and oh so worth it.
You can even make this dish the night before–the flavours improve overnight as they soak into all the wonderful vegetables. Cook all the distinct elements the night before and assemble and bake on the day, or bake the day before and re-heat. Both work just and each other.
Unlike most of my dishes, this one doesn’t freeze that well. But portioned in the fridge and re-heated the next day works amazingly, especially when served with a light and fresh salad.
And another bonus about this recipe is there are so many variations and substitutions you can make depending on your likes, preferences and ingredients.
If you cannot eat or find onions, swap for leeks.
Add in courgette, peppers or your favourite vegetables to bulk out the meatier sauce and get your five a day in one hit.
Swap the red lentils for green, black or your favourite pulse.
Swap out fresh basil, for any other fresh green leafy herb, or use spinach instead.
And, of course, the dividing ingredient — mushrooms! This works just as well with or without them, personally I love the texture they give, but omit or replace with aubergine for the same textural mouth-feel if you aren’t a fungi fan.
I’d recommend making extra of your spinach and walnut pesto and to keep in the fridge. You can stir it into gnocchi, pasta or risotto, generously slather on top of freshly baked sourdough, or use as the base on a pizza bread. Or just eat it straight out of the jar. It can be our little secret!
If you like this recipe, why not give one of my other Italian inspired recipes a try?
My Pesto Risotto with Mushrooms and Roast Tomato is a delicious zingy dish packed full of sweet flavour and rich goodness.
Try my Spring Green Pizza with Kale Pesto and Purple Sprouting Broccoli for your next pizza night–it’s an absolute game-changer, and makes eating greens so much more fun for the whole family.
Lasagne with Lentils & Spinach Pesto
For the tomato & lentil filling
- 2 onions chopped roughly
- 4 cloves garlic sliced
- 1 courgette sliced finely
- 2 red peppers chopped
- 4 large mushrooms sliced
- 5 large ripe tomatoes roughly chopped
- 1 cup/200g red lentils washed well
- 1 cup 250ml water
- 1/2 tsp ancho chilli flakes or red chilli flakes
- 1/2 tsp coconut sugar or sugar or choice
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- Black pepper
For the cheesy bechamel sauce
- 2 tbsp vegan butter
- 4 tbsp plain flour
- 2 cups/500 ml almond milk
- 3 -.4 tbsp nutritional yeast
- Big pinch sea salt
- Twist black pepper
For the pesto
- 3/4 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or an additional 1/4 cup walnuts for a pine nut free version
- 2 handfuls of spinach
- 1 handful basil
- Juice 1/2 lemon
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/3- 1/2 cup water
- Lasagne sheets
For the toppings
- Vegan cheese or cashew cheese
- Cashew Parmesan
To make the tomato & lentil filling
- Add your oil and onion to a wide bottom pan and fry gently on a low heat for around 10 minutes until soft and browning.
- Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds more, then add the peppers, courgette and mushroom. Fry for a further couple of minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, lentils, water and sugar to the pan and cook on a low heat for 25 minutes (covered).
- Add the salt, black pepper and chilli flakes to the pan and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
To make the cheesy bechamel sauce
- Add the butter to a frying pan and melt on a low heat, then add the flour. Stir to combine well.
- Next, add the almond milk and nutritional yeast. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly to ensure no lumps form.
- Finally, season well and remove from the heat.
To make the pesto
- Add all the ingredients to your food processor or high-speed blender and blitz until everything is combined with the texture you prefer. You may need to scrape the sides down a few times.
To make the lasagne
- In a medium roasting dish (I used a 25cm)–Layer the tomato veg filing then 3 lasagna sheets.
- Then half the cheese sauce, top with pesto, then another layer of tomato veg mix, 3 lasagna sheets, then the remaining cheese sauce (cover the edges of the lasagna sheets).
- And finally, top pesto and either a sprinkle or vegan cheese or dollops of cashew cheese.
- Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes on Gas Mark 4/350 degrees.