You would not believe the angst that this lasagne caused in my house last week! My boys were enraged at the thought of eating lasagne without bolognaise. “Why can’t you make proper food?” they howled. The older boy lamented the fact that they were disadvantaged as children of a Nutritionist. Generally speaking my children are pretty uncomplicated to feed but this whole vegetarian lasagne had really set them off as it was seen that I had destroyed their favourite dish.
After much protest, my children tried the dubious lasagne. They surprised themselves how good a lasagne without meat could taste and only left me with a stingy slice for lunch the next day.
During the holiday season the endless chain of barbeques, festivities and eating out I felt that we needed a meat break. Routinely I try to include a few meat free dishes a week and fish twice a week to give nutritional variety and to prevent our diets from becoming too dense in red meat. As a nutritionist I encourage consumption of red meat, as it is an excellent source of complete protein. However, I also support the habit of having vegetarian or vegan inclusions as they give our digestive systems a break from digesting heavy proteins. Growing up in a Catholic Italian family we observed fasting days and fish on Fridays. I must admit that the anchovy pizza as a kid wasn’t quite what I hoped for, when you were told it was pizza night.
This clever lasagne is bursting with nutrients, especially Beta Carotene. Spinach and kumera are rich sources of beta carotene. Foods rich in beta carotene are referred to as Carotenoids are required by our bodies to produce vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for our immune function, collagen health, and vision. Tomatoes contain a unique carotenoid called lycopene. A diet rich in lycopene is associated with decrease risk of prostate, ovarian, breast and gastrointestinal cancers. Lycopene is also known to assist in our cholesterol metabolism. My vegetarian lasagne is a lighter than the traditional version, so those trying to shed some weight can enjoy it.
Spinach and Kumera Lasagne Recipe
A lighter alternative to a meat lasagne
I kilo of kumera
2 bunches on English spinach
8 fresh lasagne sheets
400 grams of fresh ricotta
½ cup of parmesan
2 cups of basil leaves
1 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic
2 x 400gram tins of organic tomatoes
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Peel and slice kumera into rounds and bake on baking paper until soft and roasted. While kumera is roasting make the tomato sauce.
Tomato Sauce: Sauté chopped onion in olive oil, add chopped garlic and cook until soft. Add the tomato, cup of water and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add half the basil and season with salt and pepper.
Make sure spinach has been washed thoroughly to remove any grit. Tip, I usually soak it in the sink for 30 minutes then rinse it again in the colander. Wilt spinach in a fry pan add the remaining basil and allow to cool slightly. Placing spinach in a colander and squeeze out the water. Chop spinach roughly.
To assemble: lasagne, spoon some tomato sauce on the base of the dish so it doesn’t stick. First layer pasta, kumera and tomato. Second layer kumera, tomato, spinach and ricotta. Third layer, remaining tomato and parmesan. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes at 150 degrees. Allow to cool slightly.
Serving portion suggestions: if you are trying to lose weight this lasagne serves 6. Otherwise it serves 4 people. The size of my dish is 25 cm square.