Thursday, 5 February 2015

Vegetable/ Chicken Lasagne, or “Feg”

Feg is a throwaway word depicting “junk”, “meh” or “stuff” which is applied to this traditional lasagne concept. All too often people reach for the steroid & antibiotic laden beef mince, and the proprietary jars of lasagne sauce, laced with high corn fructose syrup, vinegar, or trans fats. Apart from the health detriment, this is a shame because lasagne is quite simple to make and tastes much better using fresh ingredients.

I make no apology for using full fat cheese, soft cheese and cream to make the white sauce. Firstly, it doesn’t require flour as a thickener, and secondly, the all pervasive “cholesterol myth” doesn’t have much sway in my kitchen. Out of sheer respect to my palate, I have been disinclined to believe saturated fats are bad for you, and it seems my avoidance of wraith like “low fat” products is finally receiving some support by the food scientists. How can whole foods be bad for you where something engineered in a lab is good? I had my bloods checked only last year & my LDL came back clean as a whistle. Don’t believe the low fat, high sugar marketing of unnatural products. Educate yourself here and here.

Feg is made in two stages; a roasting stage, and a lasagne bake. I have called this a vegetable/ chicken recipe to distinguish it from beef mince, but the ingredients can be varied to suit your taste & budget. I’ll include some possible variations in the recipe list below.

Olive oil, 2 Tbsp
Salt, or Dark Soy sauce to taste
Balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp
1 tsp Cumin Seeds

1 squash, chopped
1 Pepper, sliced
1 large red onion, chopped
6-8 cherry tomatoes, whole but pierced
2 courgette, chopped

2-3 chicken breasts or equivalent cut thinly

Roasting Stage

Put the ingredients into a roasting dish & mix together, coating the ingredients in oil.

Roast the (optional) chicken separately if desired. You can spice it with 1 tsp garam masala or 1 tsp of a proprietary meat spicy seasoning available from world supermarkets.

Roasting requires 30-40 minutes at 200oC
Get the ingredients in the oven & start preparing the other stages below.

4-5 garlic cloves, peeled & crushed
2-3 green finger chillies
tight handful of Basil herb

Sweetcorn (from tin is fine)
1 tin peeled plum tomatoes
Tomato puree paste to thicken

Lasagne Bake

Combine the ingredients with the roasted vegetables/ chicken in a large pan. Heat them together.

When they are sufficiently warmed through (5-10 minutes) ladel them out into the baking dish as indicated below.
Whole wheat sheet pasta, or try pasta verde, or any combination

200 ml single cream
1 pack (150g) Boursin
300-400g Mature cheddar, grated

White Sauce & Lasagne Bake

Interlace layers of lasagne sauce with pasta sheets until you run out of sauce. Make sure you have a layer of pasta sheets at the top of the baking dish and add the white sauce for the top layer.

Pour in the cream to a saucepan or non- stick frying pan & heat but do not boil. To this add 150g of soft cheese such as Boursin & allow it to melt in. You can add any soft cheese as its function is to emulsify the mixture & prevent the hard cheese from sticking or burning. I find the garlic & herb Boursin adds a pleasant flavour.

Then in handfuls, add the grated hard cheese allowing it to melt before finally pouring onto the top layer of the lasagne. Sprinkle a bit of cheese on top.

Now bake the lasagne for 30 minutes or so, keeping an eye on the uppermost portion of the bake to ensure it doesn’t burn.

Allow to cool slightly before serving. This should help with preserving the structure of the lasagne stack as you scoop it out.

Serves 4-6

North Utsire

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