Quick squash lasagne
Pasta has my heart like nothing else. My love affair with it was cemented when making stuffed agnolotti, caramelle and everything in between in restaurant kitchens, but it started with something simpler: my mum’s lasagne. This lasagne is something slightly different but still as nostalgic and comforting. It is the quickest I’ve made, ready for the oven in 10 minutes (not the hour it normally takes), yet there is still a rich deep tomato sauce and those crisp, baked edges to fight over.
I don’t pre-cook my lasagne sheets as they cook in the sauce and I like them a little al dente. If you prefer them softer you could use fresh pasta sheets here. This recipe was originally inspired by one of my all- time favourite cooks, Heidi Swanson of 101cookbooks.com.
690g tomato passata
2 tablespoons extra virgin
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
a good pinch of dried chilli flakes
2 x 400g tins green or Puy lentils, drained (or 250g home-cooked)
1⁄2 a butternut squash (about600g), peeled and grated
50g black olives, pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons capers
the zest of an unwaxed lemon
a small bunch of basil, leaves picked
2 x 125g balls of mozzarella or vegan-style mozzarella
250g dried lasagne sheets
Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.
In a large bowl or jug, mix the passata with the oil, half a teaspoon of flaky sea salt, the chopped garlic, chilli flakes, drained lentils, grated squash, chopped olives, capers and lemon zest. Tear the basil leaves in half.
Spoon a quarter of the sauce into an ovenproof dish roughly 20cm x 30cm (I use an oval roughly the same size), tear over a third of one of the balls of mozzarella, then cover with pasta sheets. Repeat for another two layers: a quarter of the sauce, a third of a ball of mozzarella, a layer of pasta.
Finish with a final layer of sauce, then tear over the whole of the second ball of mozzarella, sprinkle with salt and pepper, top with the basil, and drizzle with a little more olive oil.
Bake for 30–35 minutes, until the mozzarella is deeply golden. Serve with a sharply dressed salad (I mix lemon juice, cider vinegar, mustard and extra virgin olive oil, and toss through a bowl of green leaves).
IMAGE: Isy Croker