Sunday 16 September 2012

Spinach, Roasted Capsicum and Ricotta Lasagne

From Vegetarian, Pippa Cuthbert and Lindsay Cameron Wilson, New Holland, 2010.

Like most lasagne recipes there were a number of tasks to be done before the lasagne could be put together.

A tomato sauce had to be prepared. An onion and some garlic cloves, all chopped, were sautéed until soft, at which time a can of tomatoes was added, a little sugar, a handful of torn basil leaves and seasonings. This was left to simmer for about half an hour.

 A Béchamel sauce had to be made. When ready a big handful of grated Parmesan cheese was added.

Red capsicum had to be put under the grill to roast them. When they had blackened they were placed into a plastic bag to steam until they were cold enough to handle. They were then peeled and cut into slices.

A goodly quantity of spinach leaves were blanched in a pot of hot salted water until they had begun to wilt. They were then drained and dowsed in cold water. Excess moisture was squeezed from them and they were cut up finely. This was then combined with a mixture of ricotta and cream cheese. The recipe called for only ricotta but I had both in the fridge so wanted to use them up. An egg went into this mixture together with salt and pepper.

The dish was now put together. A third of the Béchamel was spread on the bottom of a casserole dish. This was covered with a layer of lasagne. Onto this went half of the tomato sauce and half of the ricotta mix. Another lasagne sheet covered this. Now another third of the Béchamel was added. I then placed on this half of the capsicum slices, another sheet of pasta, the rest of the tomato sauce, the remainder of the ricotta mix, another pasta sheet, then the rest of the Béchamel. To finish the remainder of the capsicum was laid over this and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese was added. It went into the oven and was baked for about half an hour.

This turned out to be a rich lasagne. It was creamy from the béchamel and ricotta, with the added tang of the capsicum slices and the tomato sauce cutting through. Filling, satisfying comfort food.

I am glad it turned out to be so good for the book it comes from is a bit of an editorial disaster, so much so that I always hesitate to use it. I don’t trust it in the slightest. Every recipe I have tried has had some element in it that is not quite right. This recipe for example has a list of ingredients which begins with the sub heading ‘For the tomato sauce:’. Then follows the complete list of ingredients so one would take it that they are all for the tomato sauce. There is no indication of where the sauce ingredients end and the remainder of the recipe ingredients begin. To find out you have to read the recipe itself. It’s not too difficult to do but incredibly annoying to pay for a book to find that it has been put together so poorly. I always check recipe books now before I purchase them. If they are from New Holland publishing house I tend to cast them aside. 

Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔

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