CAULIFLOWER AND ALMOND LASAGNE
1 packet of instant egg-free lasagne sheets (I used Delverde rippled sheets - they need a quick soak in hot water before you use them)
1 small-medium head of cauliflower, finely chopped & lightly steamed
1 cup (about 100g or 3.5oz) slivered or flaked almonds, toasted (I toss them briefly in a dry pan until toasty & golden)
The Cream Sauce:
2 Tbsp vegan margarine or olive oil
2-3 leeks, quartered lengthways & finely sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 red chilies, finely chopped (deseed 1 or 2 of them if you don't want the sauce too spicy)
500ml (17 fl oz) non-dairy milk of choice
500ml (17 fl oz) vegetable stock (I just dissolved 2 heaped teasp Massel chicken-style stock powder in freshly boiled filtered water)
2 bay leaves
3 rounded teasp mild English mustard (or mustard powder)
2 teasp vegan Worcestershire sauce (you could use light miso instead)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
pinch or ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp cornflour (cornstarch), blended in a little extra milk
2 heaped Tbsp chopped fresh parsley salt & pepper
The Crumb Topping:
2 Tbsp raw cashews
2 cloves garlic
2 heaped Tbsp nutritional yeast
2-3 slices of bread, any tough crusts removed (I used Turkish pide bread)
generous pinch of sea salt
ground black pepper
few sprigs of fresh parsley, stalks removed
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
The Marinara Sauce:
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 medium ripe tomatoes, skinned, cores removed, & roughly chopped
generous pinch dried Italian herb blend
1 teasp sugar salt & pepper
Making the Cream Sauce...
Sauté the leeks & garlic in the margarine or oil in a decent sized pot until soft. Add the chilies & cook a bit longer, then pour in the milk, stock, & bay leaves. Bring to a gentle simmer. It might curdle a bit, but don't worry, when you add the cornflour at the end, it emulsifies again. Stir in the mustard, worcestershire sauce, nutritional yeast & nutmeg. Then gradually add the cornflour mixture & stir until it's thickened. It shouldn't be too thick - you want the lasagne to be generously saucy, not dry, & the lasagne sheets will take up some of the liquid from the sauce. When it comes to seasoning the sauce, make it a little saltier than you would normally do if eating it on its own. Don't forget to remove the bay leaves!
Making the Crumb Topping...
Plonk everything but the parsley & olive oil into a food processor & whiz until it's the texture of bread crumbs. Then add the parsley leaves & whiz briefly, while drizzling in the olive oil.
Assembling the lasagne...
I use a 33x23cm (13x9") Pyrex dish, that makes a big lasagne of 6-8 serves. There's enough filling to make 4 layers in a dish that size. Start with a layer of lasagne sheets in your greased lasagne dish, scatter with a quarter of the steamed cauliflower, then ladle some of the cream sauce evenly over the top, & sprinkle with a quarter of the toasted almonds. Put down more lasagne sheets & repeat layering with cauliflower, cream sauce & almonds, then lasagne sheets, etc, until you've run out of filling, finishing with lasagne sheets on top & a final layer of the cream sauce. You might also like to season each layer with a little salt & pepper. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the final sauce layer, & bake for 20-30 minutes in a pre-heated 190C (375F) oven, until the crumbs are crunchy & golden. When you insert a knife in the centre, the lasagne sheets should be yielding & tender.
Making the Marinara Sauce...
While the lasagne is in the oven, gently sauté the onion & garlic in the olive oil in a shallow pan until soft. Add the skinned, chopped tomatoes, dried herbs & sugar & bring gently to the boil. Simmer on a low heat for about 15-20 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft & the sauce has reduced a little. Season with salt & pepper.
To serve... Spoon some of the marinara sauce onto a plate, spreading it a little. Top with a slice of lasagne. Enjoy!