Monday, February 4, 2013

Lasagne with Bean Sauce

I've been embarking on a personal exploration of the world of beans. I want to educate myself on this yummy, diverse, and cheap source of protein. My mother cooked beans as I grew up, mostly pinto or black beans in soups or refried, occasionally white beans in a baked bean recipe, split pea soup, or green lentil soup. That's already a pretty good repertoire. But I have realized there are so many more kinds of beans and pulses beyond that. As it happens, since my husband is Indian I have a connection to a whole world of beans and pulses of which I had previously no idea. I'll be posting some Indian recipes, but for now here is a Lasagne with Bean Sauce recipe that I have adapted from Jane Brody's Good Food Book, a wonderful healthy cook book that has been around for 27 years and is a good staple in a crunchy kitchen. I need to start using it rather than Pinterest all the time! I served this recipe to some other crunchy friends and they enjoyed it.
This is actually the leftovers-- I forgot to take a pic when it was fresh. You can see a garbanzo on the top.
Some notes about the sauce. You can use a combination of fresh tomato puree or canned tomato sauce. You can also choose to add mushrooms, eggplant, or zucchini in place of or in addition to the beans. I added zucchini, stir-frying it with the onions first. If you plan ahead it is easy enough to soak 1 cup of dried beans in the morning, boil them in the afternoon, and use them in the sauce rather than using canned beans.

Bean Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • optional mushrooms, zucchini,or eggplant
  • 2 cups cooked beans (red, brown, or chickpeas, home-cooked or canned), drained and coarsely chopped (or given short pulses in a food processor)
  • 4 cups tomato puree or 2 cups tomato sauce and 2 cups puree. You can use canned tomato sauce. Fresh gives the sauce a lighter and fresher flavor.
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • black pepper and salt to taste
Prepare the sauce by heating the oil in a medium saucepan and sauteeing the garlic and onions and any other optional vegetables you may have added. Add the chopped beans and cook and stir for a couple more minutes. Add the tomato puree or sauce with the herbs and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes (make sure it thickens especially if you used tomato puree, which is more watery.) Salt to taste.

Remaining ingredients:
  • 3/4 pound lasagne noodles. Brody recommends quick noodles if you don't want to cook them. I used 16 regular noodles and just soaked them in hot water rather than boiling them.
  • 2 cups ricotta or small-curd cottage cheese
  • 8 oz. mozarella, grated
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan

To assemble the lasagne, spread a thin layer of the bean sauce on the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan. Arrange a layer of noodles along the bottom of the pan to cover the sauce. (I squeezed in three lengthwise and one horizontally at the bottom.) Cover the noodles with half the ricotta, one-third of the mozzarella, and one third of the remaining sauce. Repeat this layering with the noodles, ricotta, mozarella and sauce. Finish off the third layer with the remaining noodles, sauce, mozarella, and Parmesan on top.

Cover the pan with foil. Bake at 350 for 40-60 minutes or until the pasta is cooked. (On the shorter end if you pre-soaked the noodles.) If there is too much liquid remaining in the pan, remove the foil and bake another 10-15 minutes.

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