Basic Meatless Lasagna

Hi everyone!

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So, this recipe is another one essentially from my friend’s mom, Astrid. She really rocks! I like this recipe a lot because you can make it the simple way by using prepackaged and store bought lasagna noodles and sauce, or you can go completely all out and use your own sauce and pasta recipe in it. If you’re looking to make the noodles and sauce yourself, you’ll need to find out how to do so on your own, because unfortunately I have never taken the time to make pasta myself. But for a great dish to bring to a dinner with family/friends with minimal work, this is definitely a go-to. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like lasagna!

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The longest part of this process, aside from bake time in the oven, is making the béchamel sauce. This french-style sauce is typically made from milk, flour, butter, and salt- not in that order. However, in this recipe you’ll find some great additions: thyme, nutmeg, and onions. Make sure you stir frequently enough while heating the sauce so that clumps don’t form. Be extra careful of this when you first add the flour and other dry ingredients. Personally, I have never had trouble with clumping, but it doesn’t hurt to be safe! Lastly, don’t be afraid to let this sauce boil down a lot. You can always add more milk, and it really gives it nice flavor.

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The layering, as described in the recipe is a simple pattern: Tomato sauce, lasagna noodles, béchamel, cheese, repeat. This is done three times in total, of course ending with cheese on the top! It should look something like this:

Tomato sauceIMG_3820

Lasagna noodles (you’ll probably have to break them to fit the pan. That’s ok- it’s impossible to notice once it’s served.)IMG_3821

BéchamelIMG_3823

CheeseIMG_3824

Do this three times in total to fill the pan right to the top, then bake. And after baking, it’s beautiful!

Now we can begin.

Béchamel Sauce:

Ingredients

  • One small onion, medium-finely diced
  • 2 cups of milk, at the least
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4-5 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon thyme
  • One large dried bay leaf
  • A couple pinches of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Method

  1. Put the onions and butter in a medium saucepan, and heat on a medium heat. Stir to cover the onions in butter, and cook until the onions start to appear clear or glassy.
  2. When the onions have reached this point, turn the heat down to a medium-low. You can add in the flour, thyme, and bay leaf. This will form a thick paste, which you will then dilute with milk.
  3. Milk should be added as soon as possible after making this paste, and you should only put in a little bit at a time. The process is lengthy, but it’s worth it to get the consistency right.
  4. When the mixture starts to get runny, let it slowly boil for a while and get thicker – don’t forget to stir- before adding more milk. You will need to use at least all the milk called for in this recipe. If you’ve boiled all two cups down and it doesn’t seem like enough, or you think it’s too thick, add some more milk. The thickness you want to feel when stirring should actually be pretty similar to tomato sauce.
  5. Add salt. The amount is completely up to your taste, but you’ll be fine with a teaspoon to start out with. Then if you want more, just add a pinch at a time and taste it as you go.
  6. Now you’re done, but make sure to remove the bits of bay leaf. You can put this on the lasagna without giving it time to cool.

Photo references:IMG_3810All the dry ingredients can be added at once when the onions are done cooking in the butter.

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Adding the dry ingredients should make a paste that looks similar to this and is quite dense. If you start with 4 tablespoons of flour and find that there is still some liquid in the mix due to the melted butter, you can add some more of your flour.

Lasagna:
(Fills one 13 x 9 inch baking dish)

Baking temperature: 350°F
Bake time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • One package of no-boil oven ready lasagna noodles
  • Béchamel sauce, from above recipe
  • 36 ounces of your favorite tomato sauce (1 1/2 large 24 oz cans)
  • 5 cups of white sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F
  2. Spread a third of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, and cover entirely with one layer of lasagna noodles.
  3. Cover all of the noodles with a third of the béchamel sauce. This helps them bake properly and become soft. Then add a layer of cheese, also about a third of the amount you grated. Cover this with another third of the tomato sauce, then cover with one layer of noodles. Seeing the pattern here?
  4.  Repeat the pattern above, and after putting your third layer of noodles on, cover only with béchamel sauce and cheese. This is the top of your lasagna, so you don’t need to put tomato sauce on this time around.
  5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for 10-15 more minutes.

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And voilà! You can make everybody happy at dinner with this. Or, at the very least you can make yourself happy with this dish- that’s what counts, anyway. I definitely recommend adding vegetables or meats to this recipe in with the layer of tomato sauce if you want to try making it a little less plain and more specific to your taste. It’s easy to do if you’re willing to play around with it a bit. You can’t really go wrong here. Enjoy!

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