As with many loving relationships, a lot may happen in the interim periods spent apart, but once together it feels as though little time has passed. I think about my grandmother every day. The thought of her brings with it a flush of feeling good, having the luxury to bask in my grandmother’s love for her family. All of that love rushes right back to me with this meal that I will always associate with her. Spinach Lasagne, make your grand entrance. I don’t know if it is her signature dish, or if she prepared it especially for when I, alone or with my family, visited. Either way, this is a special dish made by a great lady.
OK, so the recipe below is not the one that she will have used, but that does not detract from its comforting qualities. Despite what may seem like a complicated recipe, it does come together fairly quickly. It takes a bit longer than a great plate of pasta, but is less cumbersome than preparing dough for a pizza. Try it - Grandma would approve.
Ingredients: (serves 4 adults or 2 hungry parents)
- 250g Lasagne sheets (we used wholewheat spelt)
- 500g Tomato passata (500ml)
- 2 Cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 250g Defrosted frozen spinach
For the “cheese”:
- 1/2 cup Cashew nuts (not roasted or salted) preferably soaked for at least four hours in water, unless using an incinerator such as a Vitamix
- 2 cup Water
- 5 tbsp Arrowroot powder
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 180C
- Dice 2 cloves of garlic and place along with the olive oil in a medium size saucepan over a medium heat. Allow the garlic to sizzle away for a few minutes until it turns mellow gold in colour then add the passata and a pinch of salt. Bring the sauce up to a gentle simmer and then cover pot and allow it to bubble away as you prepare the rest of the dish.
- Place all ingredients into your blender and let'er rip! If you do not have a high powered blender, then you may prefer to run the blended mixture through a nut bag or fine sieve. Before we had our Vitamix, we used the sauce as is and did not strain it. It was a little grainy, but it did not bother us at all.
- Pour mixture into a saucepan and brig to a gentle simmer on a medium heat.
- Stir continuously and after a few minutes the mixture will begin to thicken.
- Continue to stir well until the sauce becomes thick and gooey. Turn off heat. It is now ready for the spreading.
- Once the spinach is defrosted, give it a good squeeze to drain some of the liquid. I reserve the liquid in a bowl and then drink it! I hate to see it go to waste, but it will make the lasagne soggy otherwise.
- In a roasting dish, we used a square ceramic dish that measured 23cm X 23cm X 5cm (9” X 9” X 2”), spoon out enough pasta sauce to cover the base of the dish and then lay enough lasagne sheets side by side to cover the base.
- Top the sheets with a third of the spinach and thin coat of the “cheese”.
- Lay down some more lasagne sheets and spoon on enough tomato sauce so that the sheets are not visible.
- Repeat until all sheets are used with the final layer being tomato sauce and cheese. Because we used a square dish, I assumed that the lasagne would be cut into four servings so I attempted to divide the remaining cheese so that it would be equally spread out among them.
- Cover with foil and bake for 30 min. Remove foil and bake a further 10 min.
- Because the layers reached the top of our oven dish, I tried to balloon the foil so that it did not touch the cheese on the final layer.
- Allow to cool for at least 10 min.