Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dahl for Billie and Lasagne for the Adults

Despite appearing less than enthusiastic during her first adventures with dahl, last night Billie scoffed a whole bowl full. And then a chaser of avocado. So here's a fantastic, healthy, easy, cheap meal for EVERYONE:


Saute one finely chopped onion. Add 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tspn ginger (ground or fresh),two tspns each of coriander and cumin just before adding 250g of split red lentils, 900mls cold water and one bay leaf. Bring to boil and simmer with lid mostly on. After 25 mins add a small bunch of chopped fresh spinach and cook for just couple more minutes. Squeeze half a lemon in and serve with a dollop of plain yoghurt for baby.

FOR ADULTS: Add salt and pepper and chili if you desire. Sprinkle with chopped fresh coriander (optional) and serve with brown rice or bread. Mango chutney on the side and some chopped fresh tomatoes make great accompaniments.

(Adapted from Rose Elliot's lentil dahl in Vegetarian Express.)

While I ate this alongside Billie after I cooked it, last night we had company so it was good excuse to prepare "the best lasagne ever" (direct quote from one esteemed guest).

This month has been all about Lasagne. So our Saturday night dinner guests were treated to the culmination of weeks of experimenting. Below is my Best Lasagne, but this week I'll fill you in on how I got there - useful when you want a simpler one for mid-week.


Saute one leek and a couple of spring onions (just one brown onion is fine too) in a generous splash of olive oil. Use a heavy small pot if possible, to allow you to slowly reduce the sauce. Add 5 cloves of finely chopped garlic. When onions/leeks are soft pour in 800ml tin of tomatoes, chopped, as well as the juice. Add 1/2 tspn salt and grind over black pepper. Leave to very slowly reduce, stirring frequently. If you have some fresh herbs like oregano, throw in a tblspn chopped. Check of seasoning and add more salt if desired. Don't let it reduce down too much, 30-40 mins will be enough.

Lasagne layers:
Thinnish slices of 1/4 of a pumpkin, and two courgettes sliced on the diagonal into chunky pieces, roasted in olive oil
Fresh, uncooked spinach leaves
Two red peppers sliced in half, seeded, squashed flat and smeared in olive oil. Place under grill with SKIN facing up and DO NOT turn. Once charred, they look and smell burnt, remove skins.
About one cup roughly grated parmesan cheese
180gm quark cheese (see this week's feature ingredient)
About 1 cup grated strong cheddar for top
1 packet FRESH lasagne sheets

Oil an oven dish no smaller than 35cm x 25cm. Layer up - starting with a thin layer of sauce. Then pasta sheets, another thin layer of sauce, a layer of spinach, followed by the pumpkin and a sprinkle of parmesan. Next comes pasta, sauce, courgette, spinach and then crumble a handful of quark evenly over before the parmesan. Then pasta, sauce, spinach, the rest of the quark and then the red peppers and last of the parmesan. Make sure you have enough sauce for the top, and then cover with the grated cheese. Bake in middle of oven on 180-200 for about 20 mins. Should be crispy on top but you don't want to cook it too much as most of it is already cooked. Leave to stand for ten minutes before carefully cutting into decent size pieces. Serve with steamed green beans or broccoli.


  1. Those Rose Elliot vegetarian books are good ah? We have a couple. I am not even sure where they came from. I think presents but she has some really good recipes. I also like Anna Thomas 'The Vegetarian Epicure'

  2. Ha! Yes mine was a present but I can't actually recall who. It's English so it may have been my aunt who lived in the UK for a while.
    I don't have Anna Thomas - I'll look out for it. thanks

  3. Anna Thomas is an oldie but a goodie. Actually I don't have a copy myself but used to use Allayne's and bought it for a friend who really liked it. We have two Rose Elliot's. One is a pasta one and the other just a general vegetarian one. Also Moosewoods are always good but often a little more complicated but you know all that.