Vegetarian Lasagna

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bestvegetarianlasagna3A few nights ago we had some friends over for dinner. One of the guests was a vegetarian and the other ones loves meat.  It was a pretty cold and chilly night, so I thought lasagna would be lovely. To please everyone around the table I decided to split things up. Instead of your traditional meat lasagna, I made this vegetarian version filled with mushrooms, spinach, ginger and nutmeg. For the meat lovers I slow cooked a beautiful prime rib in red wine, beef stock, a couple of chopped onions and carrots along with a few bay leaves. The lasagna itself however, is filling enough and is perfect as a meal on its own.

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Filling:

1 tbsp butter

2 tbsp truffle oil

One medium size fennel

Fresh ginger, about a 2″ piece

4 cloves of garlic

15 sage leaves

200g shiitake mushrooms 

200g crimini mushrooms

4 baby bok choy

350g fresh spinach

1/2 cup vegetable broth

1-2 tsp sambal oelek (hot chili paste)

pinch of tarragon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Salt & Pepper

Béchamel Sauce:

3 tbsp butter

3 tbsp flour

3 cups milk

White pepper

Salt

3 tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups grated gruyère cheese

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Thinly slice the fennel and finely chop the ginger, garlic, sage leaves and mushrooms. Roughly chop the book choy. In a large cast iron pot, heat up the truffle oil until hot but not burning. Turn the heat down slightly and add the fennel and ginger. Sauté for a couple of minutes before adding the garlic sage and mushrooms. Sauté for another couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. Add bok choy to the pot along with the spinach and the rest of the ingredients. Make sure everything is well combined, and let it simmer until the liquid is almost gone. Turn the heat off and let cool.

Béchamel:

Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium sized sauce pan. When melted, lower the temperature and start adding the flour. Whisk constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Cook the butter/flour for a couple of minutes, whisking non stop. Add the milk, a little bit at a time. Keep stirring! Raise the temperature back to medium. As the sauce thickens add more milk. The sauce is ready when coating the back of a spoon. Season with salt & pepper.

In a large oven proof dish, start putting the lasagna together. Coat the bottom of the dish with the béchamel, cover with sheets of pasta and sprinkle some of the vegetable filling on top. Drizzle béchamel over filling. Repeat layers twice. Place the sliced tomatoes on top of the third vegetable layer before putting down one last layer of pasta. Sprinkle the cheese. Cover with the rest of the béchamel sauce. 

Bake in the middle of the oven for 45-60 min, or until golden brown and pasta is soft.

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Orecchiette with Pork and Fresh Vegetables

p4I adore pasta. Perhaps I was Italian in a previous life? Who knows. Something I would bring to a deserted island? Definitely. It’s convenient. Something to fall back on when peeling a pot of potatoes seem like an enormous task. It comes in a large varietal of shapes and forms. I have my favourites of course. Orecchiette is being one of them. Bruno gets his fair share of pasta when I’m cooking although he is not as fond of it as I am. Don’t take me wrong, he likes it. I love it. In this recipe I use ground pork rather than ground beef. The more subtle flavours of the pork allows the other ingredients to pop. A great dish whether it’s snowing or sweltering outside. It  goes amazingly well with our Golden Russet Apple Cider!

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2 stalks celery

3 shallots

3 green onions

2 radishes

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

1000g ground pork

4 tbsp soya sauce

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1/2 cup creme fraiche

2 tsp sambal oelek (chili paste)

Ground pepper

500g pasta of your choice

Finely chop the vegetables and put aside.

In a large pot, bring water to a boil for the pasta.

In a frying pan, heat up the butter and olive oil. Fry the ground pork on medium heat until cooked. Add the soya and Worcestershire sauce along with the vinegar. Let simmer until liquid is reduced by half.

In the meantime cook the pasta until Al Dente. Drain.

Add the creme fraiche and sambal oelek along with some ground pepper to the pork and stir well. Toss with pasta, or serve separate. Sprinkle celery, radishes and green onions on top. Serves 4.p1p3p5