Quick and cheesy veggie lasagne

Another recipe of mine which will win no prizes for authenticity, so if you’re an Italian food purist, avert your eyes now!

For the rest this is a perennial home favourite which looks great, is very satisfying and simple to involve kids in its preparation.

Ingredients

* Cheese: Firm mozzarella and/or mild cheddar

* Dry lasagne pasta sheets (those which don’t need pre-cooking)

* 1 bottle of passata

* 1 tin of chopped tomatoes

* 2 medium onions

* 4 cloves of garlic

* 1 bag of Quorn mince or mixed vegetables including courgettes, peppers & mushrooms

* 1/2 cube vegetable stock

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees centigrade.

First the tomato-based sauce. Dice the onions and saute in a good splash of olive oil, sprinkling with some salt and dried oregano or basil. Crumble in half a stock cube and add a glug of water to dissolve it. If you’re going for mince, add the Quorn mince now and cook on a medium heat.

If you’re not using mince slice the vegetables and set to one side.

Crush the garlic and stir into the pan, cook for a minute then add the passata followed by the tinned tomato. Leave to simmer stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile prepare the cheese. I prefer to use the firm long blocks of mozzarella, the balls in bags of water are too soft for this recipe in my experience. Slice the blocks or grate the cheddar.

Check the tomato sauce and season to taste, remembering that the cheese will add more salt to the final flavours.

In a large baking dish line the bottom with pasta sheets, trying to avoid too much overlap. Now spread some of the tomato sauce onto this layer – you want it to be about half a centimetre of sauce. If you’re using them, lay vegetable slices over this. Then add a layer of cheese – not too much, only enough to cover about half of the surface area, it will spread as it melts.

Add another layer of pasta, another layer of sauce, vegetables if used, then more cheese. Continue until the dish can’t hold any more.

At the top you have a choice, you can go crunchy or soft. For a crunchy top add a final layer of pasta sheets then add cheese to this. For a softer finish just top the final sauce layer with cheese. I always use a mix of mozzarella and grated cheddar.

Bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, checking after 25 minutes to make sure the top isn’t burning. It’s ready when the pasta sheets are soft.

Tips:

* You can add torn basil leaves or chunks of fresh garlic in the layers to add more flavour.

* If using vegetables try to slice them so that they will cook evenly.

* Spreading on the tomato sauce hot from the pan helps the pasta sheets cook quickly.

* This is a great left-overs dish. To stop it drying out reheat in the oven under foil with a splash of milk under there.

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