Category Archives: Pasta

Vegetarian Lasagna

Vegetarian Lasagna

Lasagna or Lasagne as it is known in Italy is one of the oldest Pastas. This flat sheet of pasta is cooked in alternate layers of pasta, sauce, and cheese. This is not a quick or easy dish to make but the taste and flavours make up for all the hard work. I learnt this vegetarian version while studying in the UK and improvised on it over time. This is my kind of Friday night dinner when friends come over and the dinner continues almost till Saturday morning.

Red Sauce for Lasagna

The most common vegetarian lasagne I have seen is the one with spinach and white sauce. I use both white and red sauces. For the red sauce you can also include vegetables like zucchini or squash. You can grill the vegetables and chop them if you want to add a smokey flavour to the red sauce.

White Sauce for Lasagna

I like to keep the white sauce very simple. No cream, No butter, and No cheese. My idea is to get the flavour and taste from herbs. I use lots of fresh basil leaves.

Even with the layers of cheese, you can choose to just sprinkle the cheese instead of adding full layer every time. I use ricotta, cheddar, mozzarella, and Monterey Jack cheese. The grated cheese packets available in supermarkets can save a lot of time and money. They come in variety of cheese mixes like Italian pasta and Mexican flavours.

Layers for Lasagna

Choose a rectangle dish to bake pasta and cut the pasta sheets if required. You can make lasagne in advance and heat it up when required. Just like pav bhaji, pasta also tastes better the next day. Lasagna is a meal in itself and can be enjoyed as lunch or dinner.

Vegetable Lasagna

Ingredients

Serves 5-6

  • 10 lasagna sheets
  • Cheese (cheddar, ricotta or cottage, mozzarella) as per taste

Red Sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 ½ tbsp. chopped garlic
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped mixed bell peppers
  • ½ cup chopped carrots
  • ½ cup broccoli florets steamed for 2 minutes
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • Salt as per taste

White Sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp all-purpose flour (maida)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tsp black pepper powder
  • Salt as per taste

Recipe

For the Red Sauce

Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan. Add chopped garlic and oregano. Cook for 1 minute. Add chopped onions and chilli flakes. Cook for 1-2 minutes or till the onions are translucent. Add carrots and bell peppers. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add tomato puree and salt and cook for 8-10 minutes mixing the sauce occasionally. Add broccoli and cook for 1 more minute and switch off the heat. Keep aside.

For White Sauce

Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan. Add the all-purpose flour and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Do not let the flour get brown. Add milk and mix well ensuring there are no lumps. One way is to switch off the heat, cool the sauce a little and blend it smooth using a hand blender. Put the sauce back on gas and add salt, pepper, and basil. Cook till the sauce thickens (approximately 2-3 minutes). Cover and keep aside.

Boil the lasagne sheets as per the instructions on the pack.

To Assemble the Lasagna

Take an oven proof dish. Spread a layer of red sauce. Cover it with lasagna sheets. Spread a layer of white sauce. Sprinkle some cheese or add a layer of cheese if you like cheese. Add a layer of lasagna sheets followed by layers of red sauce, lasagna sheets, white sauce, and cheese. Finish with a final layer of lasagna, red sauce, white sauce and cheese on the top.

Cover with an aluminium foil. Bake at 200 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 12-15 minutes or till the cheese is crusty and brown on the sides. Let it rest for 5-6 minutes before serving.

Pasta with Red Sauce

Red Sauce pasta

Pasta for me is undoubtedly one of the best foods on earth. This particular recipe is the first pasta recipe I learnt (I have modified it a little). My friend Deepak’s mom taught me to make this and I am so thankful that she introduced me to this wonderful and versatile food. Pasta can be mixed with various sauces vegetables. Arrabbiata or the spicy red sauce is the most common sauce that we vegetarians especially Indian prefer. This sauce is slightly different version of the simple arrabbiata sauce.

Penne Pasta

There are different shapes of pasta available but Penne pasta goes well with the red sauce and especially Penne Rigate holds up the tomato based sauces well. Spaghetti is another pasta that goes well with the red sauce. Choose the whole wheat pasta if you want a healthier version. Things to keep in mind while boiling the pasta are; always cook the pasta aldente (that is till it is just done). Over cooking will take away the taste and texture both. Secondly, you do not always need to add oil while boiling the pasta. Just add plenty of water and your pasta will never stick.  

Veggies

Being a vegetarian does not mean adding just cheese to you pasta sauce. You can make it tastier and healthier by adding the vegetables of your choice. You can experiment with the sauce and add vegetables like carrot, broccoli etc and toppings like corn, olives etc. Traditionally pasta doesn’t have red chilli powder but I add it keeping in mind the taste of people I am cooking it for.

Vegetarian Pasta Sauce

Try to mix the sauce just before serving. Pasta tends to absorb the sauce. If you want to prepare it in advance, save some extra sauce and add it just before serving the pasta. You can prepare the sauce in advance and just boil and toss the pasta in the sauce just before serving. You can sprinkle some cheese on top of the pasta or if you are a cheese lover, just add a layer of cheese on top of pasta and bake till the cheese melts.

Pasta is best enjoyed as a main course. Serve it with warm garlic bread.

Vegetarian Pasta

Ingredients

Serves 2 (or 1 if you are a pasta lover like me)

  • 250 gms or 2 cups of penne pasta (choose whole-wheat if you want a healthier version)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ¼ cup onions finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • ½ cup finely chopped mixed bell peppers
  • ½ cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper powder
  • 2 tbsp fresh cream
  • Cheese to taste and liking (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Recipe

Cook the pasta as per instructions on the packet. You can use the following method if you want to cook it al dente (literally means to the tooth)

In a thick bottomed vessel, heat 2 ½ litres of water. Add 15gms salt to it. Once the water starts boiling add the pasta and cook on medium flame for 11-12 minutes. When you chew the pasta, there should be slight resistance at the centre. Drain the pasta and keep aside. At this time, you can add a little olive oil to the pasta and toss them well so that they do not stick once they are cold.

Heat olive oil in a pan. Add oregano and garlic. Sauté for a minute and add onions. Cook for 1-2 minutes or till the onions are translucent. Add mixed bell peppers and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and salt. Cook for 3-4 minutes mixing the sauce in between. Add the tomato puree, red chilli powder, and pepper powder. Mix well and cook on slow flame till you see oil on top (approximately 5-6 minutes). Keep stirring the sauce in between. Add the fresh cream and switch of the gas. Add the boiled pasta and toss well. If you are not comfortable tossing the pasta, you can use a wooden spatula to very lightly mix the pasta with the sauce making sure you do not break the pasta.

Adding cheese is optional. You can sprinkle parmesan cheese on hot pasta just before serving or if you love cheese with pasta, arrange pasta in a baking dish and cover it with grated cheddar cheese. Bake till the cheese melts and serve hot.