Vegetarian lasagne

16:00, Oct 12 2010
Sharad Woodhead and Thor Ratahi prepare Vegetable Lasagna.

In Spotswood College's Food and Nutrition classes, Katy Power teaches her students that the key to cooking great-tasting, nutritious meals day after day is to keep it simple. In Kai with Soul, Katy and her students let you in on how easy cooking for a family can be.

The warmth of the summer sun for a precious few days has been gladly received after weeks of gloomy skies and driving rain. Spirits are lifted and everybody feels positive and happy. Teenagers and children can return to the final term of school with their batteries recharged and a good dose of Vitamin D, synthesised by the sun's energy upon their skin.

Our main dish this week is the ever-popular Lasagne - vegetarian in style. Although the majority of our students are meat lovers, they gobbled down this version without the slightest reference to the absence of the mince layer traditionally found in this pasta-based meal.

Lolly Cake is perfect for lunchboxes.

There is plenty of flavour coming from the delicious mix of vegetables, herbs and tomato puree sauce. Top this with a generous sprinkle of tasty cheese and you will be lucky if there are any leftovers for lunch.

We have included tofu in the dish. This is a semi-firm curd- like product made from soya beans and found in the refrigerated section at the supermarket. It is high in quality protein and 75 grams of tofu supplies 10 grams of protein. The tofu is cut into cubes and added to the vegetable sauce where it absorbs the rich and tasty flavours. Tofu is usually added to dishes high in flavour as, eaten by itself, it can taste bland.

The tomato puree in Lasagne provides a valuable source of lycopene, a pigment found in red fruit and vegetables. Lycopene is an antioxidant, which may help to lower the risk of certain diseases and types of cancer.


Our Vegetarian Lasagne has two layers of pasta, vegetable sauce and cheese and is straightforward to make. The pasta does not need to be cooked first and the sheets are arranged into either a rectangle or square oven dish. The sides of the dish will need to be at least 5-6cm high. Allow 30-40 minutes to cook the pasta thoroughly. We also used tasty cheese but medium or mild could be used with a sprinkle of parmesan.

Serve the lasagne with a fresh garden salad or extra cooked vegetables. Bulk up the meal with a fresh bun or slice of bread if required.

Finish the meal with a serve of old-fashioned Bread and Butter Pudding. This tasty dessert has made a come-back and although it sounds like "poor man's" pudding, it is a clever way of using up and disguising leftover bread. It can also be made using any type of fresh bread. The addition of plump apricots and spice enhance the flavour and the eggs contribute to the softly set texture. It tastes best served hot and accompanied with the usual yoghurt, custard or vanilla ice cream. Any leftovers can easily be reheated for a tasty snack the next day.

It is always wonderful when teenagers and children take the initiative and offer to do some food production at home. Our two "special treat" recipes pass as teenage favourites to make and the homemade lolly cake is the all-time winner to include in school lunchboxes. Both recipes are high in sugar and energy so cut them into small portions and eat along with a healthy sandwich for lunch or for morning tea with a big juicy apple or banana.

If you feel that there is too much sugar in the lolly cake try substituting a portion of the lollies with dried chopped fruits such as cranberries or nuts.

Get the lunchboxes out, washed and scrubbed for the final term of the year - only 45 more lunches to organise before Christmas. Let the teenagers enjoy making homemade lolly cake and this will become a childhood memory in years to come. Life is bliss when the sun finally shines in spring, there is lolly cake or rice bubble square in lunchboxes and the taste of summer is on the horizon.

Content provided by Katy Power and the Year 13 Food and Nutrition class at Spotswood College.

The Ultimate Apricot Bread and Butter Pudding

Serves 4-6

10 dried apricots

1/2 loaf French bread - cut into 2cm slices

75g butter

11/2 cups milk

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 eggs

1/3 cup brown sugar

1. Heat the oven to 190[Degree]C.

2. Put the dried apricots into a small saucepan and just cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes, then drain the water off.

3. Cut the apricots into quarters with a sharp knife.

4. Melt the butter in a small microwave safe dish and brush both sides of the sliced French bread pieces, using a pastry brush.

5. Scatter half of the apricots over the base of a medium size ovenproof dish and then place the bread pieces in a layer over the apricots.

6. Tuck the remaining apricots in between the bread pieces and press them down.

7. Beat the eggs in a medium size bowl with a whisk, then add the milk, cinnamon and sugar and continue whisking until combined.

8. Pour this mixture evenly over the bread and apricots.

9. Lightly press the bread down with the tips of your fingers so the milk mixture soaks into the bread. Stand for 5 minutes to allow the remaining milk to soak into the bread.

10. Place into the heated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until the pudding is set in the middle, puffed up and golden.

11. Remove from the oven and accompany with a small serving of natural yoghurt, custard or ice cream.

Sweet Tooth Lolly Cake

Makes 25 squares or circles

125g butter

1 can condensed milk

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 pkt malt biscuits

18 Eskimo lollies

coconut to coat

1. Melt the butter and condensed milk in a large saucepan over a low heat and then remove the saucepan from the heat. Alternatively, place the butter into a large microwave-proof bowl and microwave for approximately 1 minute, then add the condensed milk and microwave for a further 30 seconds.

2. Stir in the vanilla essence.

3. Turn the biscuits into crumbs by either crushing half a packet at a time in a food processor (using the metal chopping blade) or putting the biscuits into a large, clean plastic bag, securing the end and crushing them with a rolling pin. If using the plastic bag method, break the biscuits into large pieces before placing in the bag and rolling them into crumbs.

4. Add the crushed biscuits and chopped Eskimos to the butter mixture and stir together.

5. Sprinkle the coconut over a sheet of greaseproof paper and place half the mixture on to the coconut and form a cylinder sausage roll shape. Roll and coat in the coconut.

6. Repeat with the second half of the mixture.

7. Wrap the rolls in plastic cling wrap and refrigerate for a few hours to set. Remove the wrap and cut into slices.

The mixture can also be pressed into a square or rectangular slice tin that has been lightly sprayed or greased. Press the mixture out to about 1-2 cm deep and sprinkle with coconut. Cut the lolly cake into small pieces for serving.

Vegetable Lasagne

Serves 4-6

500g pumpkin

1/2 red onion - diced

1 tsp crushed garlic

1 Tbsp olive oil

6 medium-sized mushrooms - sliced

1 cup firm tofu (250g) - cut into 1 cm cubes

2-3 leaves silverbeet or spinach (frozen or fresh) - shredded

2 cups tomato puree

1/2 cup water

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp salt

freshly ground black pepper

6-8 small lasagne pasta sheets

1 cup grated cheese

1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley (optional)

2 Tbsp parmesan cheese

1. Heat the oven to 200[Degree]C.

2. Cut the pumpkin into small pieces and remove the skin.

3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and saute the pumpkin, onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Stir regularly with a wooden spoon.

4. Add the mushrooms, tofu, silverbeet or spinach, tomato puree, water, oregano, basil, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

5. Stir and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Place the lid on the saucepan.

6. Assemble the lasagne in a deep rectangular or square baking dish in the following order:

Arrange 3 sheets of lasagne pasta over the base of a rectangular dish (30cm x 22cm) or 4 sheets over the base of a square dish (22cm x 22cm)

Spoon half of the tomato vegetable filling over the lasagne pasta sheets

Sprinkle cup of grated cheese over the vegetable filling

Repeat the above process again.

7. Put the lasagne into the heated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until the pasta is cooked and the top looks golden.

8. Remove from oven and serve with a green salad or freshly cooked vegetables of your choice.

If using fresh herbs allow double the amount required.

Sprinkle a little parmesan cheese over the top and some finely chopped parsley.

Rice Bubble Squares

Makes 16-20 squares

50g butter

1/4 cup sugar

2 Tbsps honey

4 cups rice bubbles

1. Lightly spray or grease a baking dish (22cm x 22cm) with oil.

2. Place the butter, sugar and honey in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and lightly simmer for 2 minutes. The mixture will turn to a light caramel colour.

3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and quickly stir in the rice bubbles.

4. Press into the prepared dish and flatten with the back of a metal spoon. Leave to set. This will take 15-30 minutes.

5. Cut into squares with a sharp knife and store in an airtight container.

Taranaki Daily News