Now, I love me a good lasagna and I pride myself on making a pretty mean one.
Today though, I had the opportunity to make one for someone with a very specific diet and I had great fun rising to the challenge.
I had to make it completely gluten free and substitute cows’ milk and cheese for goats’ as well as switching several of my usual ingredients.
Here’s what I used!
- Buckwheat flour
- Just under two boxes of gluten free dry lasagna sheets
For the red sauce:
- 2 bottles of passata (I would normally use tinned tomatoes)
- Small bunch of fresh basil
- Dried oregano
- 3 courgettes
- 1 aubergine
- Most of a large bag of spinach
I chopped the aubergine and courgettes into small pieces and fried in olive oil until lightly browned. Usually, a little before this point I would add in some finely chopped garlic, but I had to forego it this time. I also normally use mushrooms, but I substituted them for aubergine.
I added the passata and threw in some salt and pepper to taste (sorry, I never use measurements!) as well as finely chopped basil and dried oregano.
While that bubbled away nicely I set to work on the white sauce. I just added the spinach in right at the end so it didn’t overcook.
For the béchamel:
- Butter (I used regular butter as my friend didn’t mind)
- Buckwheat flour (I thought I had gluten free flour, so had to improvise)
- Semi-skimmed goats’ milk
- Small block of hard goats’ cheese
I wasn’t sure the sauce would thicken as it normally would, as I was unfamiliar with the textures of the flour and cheese I was using. There was a worrying moment when I didn’t think the cheese would melt either, but thankfully it all came together.
If you don’t know how to make a béchamel, it really is quite simple.
Melt a knob of butter in a saucepan (I used two very generous ice-cream scoop sized knobs of butter as I was making a lot of sauce). Once completely melted, slowly sieve the flour into the butter, stirring gently as you go. Keep adding flour until the sauce reaches a thick, sticky consistency. I roll it into a ball, as it makes the next bit a lot easier.
From there, slowly keep adding dashes of milk, while stirring gently. It’s important to add the milk gradually and keep stirring so you don’t get lumps. The key is to keep stirring the sauce over a low heat so it doesn’t go lumpy or stick to the pan.
Once you’ve got a good amount of sauce and it’s at a consistency you’re happy with, gradually start stirring in the grated cheese. I used most of the small block, saving a little bit to put on the top.
Once the cheese is all melted in, you might need to slowly add more milk in. Again, I never use measurements, I just keep throwing things in until it looks and tastes good!
Then I added in salt and pepper to taste, and grated in some fresh nutmeg (you can also use the pre-ground nutmeg). Again, I add this to taste, but have to be supervised as I’m notorious for using far too much nutmeg. I love it so much I think I’ve gone mouth-blind. Is that a thing? Like nose-blind?!
To assemble the lasagne
Line the bottom of a large glass dish with some lasagna sheets. You’ll need to snap some into small pieces to fill in gaps, unless you happen to have the perfect sized dish. Word of warning, gluten free lasagna sheets are harder to snap than regular ones – I got shards of pasta sheets everywhere! The pack did suggest blanching them first which would probably have helped, but I personally never bother with that.
From there you just layer pasta, white sauce, pasta, red sauce, and so on. The last layer should be sauce, not pasta, and then I like to sprinkle a bit of cheese on top.
Pop in the oven at 180° for 45 minutes. This will vary depending on size, but I just wait until the top looks nice and brown, and I always cut through to make sure the pasta sheets are soft enough.
Serve up and enjoy!
I’m a huge fan of goats’ cheese so I absolutely LOVED the flavour of the béchamel sauce. I found the buckwheat flour gave it a slightly grainy, mealy texture, but I still really enjoyed it.
Using passata instead of tinned tomatoes made the sauce a lot smoother, which was quite nice. While I missed the mushrooms I enjoyed the aubergine. I don’t know why I haven’t always been putting it in my lasagna! I found it difficult not being able to use garlic, but with fresh basil and the other seasoning, I thought it still had a really nice flavour.
I didn’t love the texture of the gluten free pasta sheets, but that could have been my fault for not blanching them first. I just found them a bit chewy and grainy.
Overall though, I would definitely make this again. I didn’t feel as bloated as I normally do after lasagna, and the flavour of the goats’ cheese was a winner in my book.