I was introduced to lemon and artichoke lasagna around three years ago when my Italian friend, Veronica, invited me over for dinner. I’d never tasted a lasagna that wasn’t made with a tomato-base, but the freshness of the lemons and contrasting richness of the parmesan blew me away.
I’d thought about that dish ever since and I was keen to create a vegan version, but it turns out Veronica can’t remember ever making it, or how she would even go about creating it again. So, I got to work trying to recreate it myself.
After a few trial runs, it’s so close to the authentic Italian version that Veronica made I decided to name it Lasagna Veronica.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 leeks, sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
zest 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tins of artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
2 tbsp vegan parmesan, grated
8 lasagna sheets
1/4 cup vegan spread
1/2 cup plain flour
2 cups plant-based milk
GETTING IT MADE AND INTO YOUR MOUTH
Pre-heat the oven to 190C.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the garlic and stir for a minute or two.
Add the onions and fry for 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Then add the leeks, cover and allow to sweat for 5 minutes.
Drain the artichokes and roughly chop before adding to the pan. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook for a further 3 minutes.
Take off the heat and stir in the grated parmesan. Cover and set aside.
Next, fill wide pan with water and bring to a boil. Throw in a pinch of salt and cook each lasagna sheet for 4-5 minutes. You can cook them two-at-a-time if your pan is wide enough, but make sure they don’t stick together.
Once cooked, place on baking paper to cool down and set aside.
To make the béchamel sauce, heat a small saucepan on a medium heat. Add the butter to the pan and allow to melt for a minute. Add the flour and whisk until it becomes a thick paste, almost crumbly. Allow to cook off for 20 seconds.
Slowly pour in the milk and whisk rapidly and consistently to avoid lumps. Keep stirring until the sauce is combined.
Add a large pinch of salt and pepper and fold into the sauce. When the sauce is thick enough to cover the back of a spoon, take it off the heat.
It’s time to build the lasagna!
Add a third of the filling to the bottom of a lasagna dish and spread thinly. Top with the a layer of cooked lasagna sheets and a very thin spreading of béchamel sauce. You don’t want to drench it like a tomato-based lasagna.
Grate more parmesan over each layer of béchamel if you wish and repeat the process twice more. Top the lasagna with a mound of parmesan and more salt and pepper.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until crispy and golden on top.
Serve with whatever you fancy.