Ultimate Lasagne, 40p [VG]

 

This beautiful lasagne barely needs an introduction, as when I posted it on my Instagram last month, it received rapturous demands for the recipe. Good things come to those who wait, and here it is. Making lasagne from scratch is always a bit of a fanny, so I have deliberately made this recipe enormous so you can freeze it in portions for a quick ready meal, to make all of the work involved worthwhile by rewarding yourself with days where you won’t have to cook. Simply portion it into foil containers with those cardboard lids (around 8 for £1 from most supermarkets and factory outlet type stores, and reusable dozens of times if you wash them carefully) and pop into the freezer for a lazy day. For those of you who don’t have wine kicking about the place or don’t want to slosh it into your dinner, simply add stock or extra tomatoes in place of it. I have opted not to put cheese on mine, but you can if you want – for my vegan readers, Violife mozzarella slices melt well, and can be found in most major supermarkets, but I didn’t really need them here.

 

Serves 6-8 from 40p each

 

1 onion, 6p (90p/1.5kg, Sainsburys Basics onions)

6 cloves of garlic, 9p (35p/2 bulbs, Sainsburys Basics)

150g dried green or red lentils, 34p (£1.15/500g, Sainsburys)

400g mushrooms, 85p (85p/400g, Sainsburys Basics)

100g spinach, kale or other greens , 13p(£1.30/1kg, Sainsburys frozen spinach)

100ml red wine, 46p (£3.50/750ml, Sainsburys Basics table wine)

400g chopped tomatoes, 35p (35p/400g, Sainsburys Basics)

1 tsp thyme, 4p (70p/15g fresh, Sainsburys)

1 tbsp gravy granules, 3p (75p/170g, Sainsburys vegetable gravy granules)

1 packet lasagne sheets, 65p (65p/500g, Sainsburys)

 

For the white sauce:

1 tbsp flour, 1p (55p/1.5kg, Sainsburys Basics)

1 tbsp oil or butter sub, 1p (£3/3l, Sainsburys sunflower oil)

200ml cashew milk or other milk substitute, 20p (£1/1l, Alpro cashew milk at Sainsburys)

½ tsp mustard, 1p (45p/180g, Sainsburys Basics)

2 tbsp breadcrumbs, 1p (£1.25/500g, Sainsburys)

 

First peel and very finely chop the onion and garlic. If you have a bullet blender, magimix or small chopper, you might like to use it here. If you haven’t, don’t worry, it’s simple enough to do by hand. Toss into a large pan (either a saucepan or a shallow frying pan will do) with the oil and salt, and bring to a medium heat for a few minutes.

 

Meanwhile, thoroughly rinse your lentils under a cold tap for a few minutes, and then add to the pan. Pour in the wine and tomatoes, add the herbs, and give it all a good stir before turning up the heat until it comes to the boil, then turn it down again to a medium simmer.

 

Finely chop the mushrooms into smithereens, almost a mince-like texture; this lasagne works best when its component parts are barely detectable, instead a mysterious homogeny of deep, earthy flavours and sneaky-vegetable bliss. When chopped as fine as you can muster, add those to the pan too with the gravy granules and spinach and – you guessed it – give it all a stir.

 

While the lentils are cooking and absorbing all that rich, winey flavour, you can make the white sauce. In a small, separate pan, heat the oil, flour and mustard together and stir briskly to form a rough paste. Add a splash of milk to loosen it, and another, and another, stirring all the time. It can be tempting to rush this step, but it will result in a lumpen, awful sauce, which in itself is not the end of the world as you can pass it through a tea strainer or sieve to separate the lumps, but try to take your time. Gradually add the milk until it is all incorporated, and leave it to cook on a low heat for around 10 minutes, where it will thicken considerably.

 

Now turn your oven on to 180C, and grab a suitable dish, one that looks like it will hold the same amount of lentil-mushroom-ragu that you have. Spread a layer of ragu into the bottom of the dish to cover it. Lay lasagne sheets over the top, leaving no gaps between them if you can help it. Spread a thin layer of white sauce onto the dry pasta. Then repeat: ragu, pasta, sauce, until the ragu is all used up. Top with a final layer of pasta sheets, then a generous layer of white sauce, carefully spreading it right to the edges. Sprinkle breadcrumbs generously across the top, and carefully place into the centre of the oven. Bake for 40 minutes, until golden and crisp around the edges. A knife inserted into the middle should go through the pasta easily. If not, bake for a further 10 minutes.

 

Cut into portions as desired, and serve.

 

 Jack Monroe.

Advertisements

78 Comments »

    • For people at risk of food poverty and who aren’t likely to have all the ingredients at home it would be an outlay of over £9 (assuming they don’t use wine, and already have mustard, oil/butter and flour). So 40p is a bit misleading. Food charity Bags of Taste’s recipes all cost less than a pound and they suggest using a combination of markets and local shops as well as supermarket basics ranges. If you get everything from Sainsbury’s it’s bound to cost more.

      • Hi Justin – this comes up a lot over the last 5 years of doing this and this is admittedly one of my more ingredient-heavy recipes, but the remaining food can all be used to make additional meals as it will keep, and for this recipe you could literally eat every night of the week, and quite substantially too. I like the sound of Bags Of Taste and will look into it – any suggestion that could be helpful to people is always welcome! I started this blog as a single mum on benefits in poverty, and have always created my recipes from the same principles as I did then – it’s only Sainsburys because that’s what I can walk to, people are free to shop where they like.

  1. Hi thanks for the recipe… I’m vegetarian and I don’t eat mushrooms, what would you recommend to replace the mushrooms with? Thanks

  2. Looking forward to trying this recipe.
    What I particularly like about your recipes is that not only are they really inexpensive but also odds on I nearly always have most of the ingredients in already which is a bonus. No trekking to the supermarket to find random food items that probably never get used again!
    Thanks and Happy New Year Jack. Hope you and SB (probably not so SB now!) are well and happy.

  3. Sounds and looks absolutely delicious – hadn’t thought of trying cashew milk for bechamel before – will give it a go, as soya just never seems quite right (and is yet more soya!). I will give the cashew milk a go. A good pinch of nutmeg in a white sauce, especially if not making with dairy milk, gives it a lift too, and complements the mustard. I’m going to make this at the weekend and put some in the freezer for a rainy day.

  4. It is s shame you are unable to take any criticism on your cheap cookery recipes, but only the adoration comments. This does not make for a well rounded person.
    Your latest book is Meh!

    • I take criticism as well as nice comments, what a daft thing to say. According to my database my latest book hasn’t been posted to a ‘Lara’ yet but never mind that, I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it and even more sorry that instead of quietly donating it somewhere else, you felt the need to hurt my feelings about it. Have a nice day Lara. That book took two years and two mental breakdowns and I am extraordinarily proud it exists at all.

      • Keep doing what you’re doing Jack, these recipes are delicious, nutritious and so important. I respect the time you take to reply to so many people!

      • Just discovered your work, as a Brit overseas. Love what I’ve seen so far and well done with the books and all the hard work that went into them!

      • Lara’s comment is indeed daft and insensitive. You don’t deserve this, I LOVE your work and you’ve been my life saver in difficult times! You have a big community behind you, Jack, that love your ideas, support and you as a person! I thank you from the bottom of my heart! xx

      • Thank you Jack, for giving me such yummy inspiration. I really appreciate that you put your recipes on here for free. Keep doing what your doing, please?. We can all shop around and find our bargains depending on where we live and our ability to get around. Aubergine and Kale satay for us tomorrow 😊😘xxx

    • It’s a shame you’re unable to leave nice comments, but only the hurtful ones (no, it’s NOT constructive criticism). I suppose you were frustrated that no-one answered your “That isn’t nice looking at all. Dry and claggy. Not one I would try. Keep trying.” comment in just over 3 hours and thought you deserved it. You don’t. Your comment is “Meh”!

      • If there was something nice to say, I would have said it. I don’t get frustrated, I think you are though because you feel the need to repeat my comment so grow up a bit if you are able.. I stand by the comment that the lasagna is dry looking and claggy, and the book is Meh! Waiting for 2 years for a book of low quality for the pledge made and not even getting it signed, is all a bit in poor taste. Our copy has now been donated to the Salvation Army thrift shop.

      • I wasn’t able to sign all of them as I have severe arthritis in my hands, which incidentally is one of the reasons the book took so long. I have explained that several times but I am sorry you are disappointed. So am I, as it happens, seeing I need my hands for my work, to lose the full use of them at 29 years old has been pretty devastating.

      • And Lara’s comment is not true. Jack replied graciously and promptly to a crititcism I made. I’m sorry she has to put up with this, but there are always people venting their frustrations online, you just have to try and ignore it.

    • You speak your mind, I can speak mine. Hurt feelings, really? Well we have received the book, at least that happened. For the amount of time it took, it really isn’t very good at all. 2 years should have produced something extraordinary. It is now in the box for charity donations, so at least someone can have it and it hasn’t been a complete waste.

    • Those who pledged for a signed copy should have received a signed copy. Those who pledged for the launch party for a first look, never got that either. You never mentioned arthritis when you were looking for funds. Now when people are disappointed, you toss that nugget in. Doesn’t fly with me, sorry! Just one excuse after another.

      • I was diagnosed after the kickstarter. It might not ‘fly with you’ but I’ve hardly been shy about talking about it. The launch party is planned for the summer for the full colour edition – thought it would be nice to do a proper ‘do’ with a bunch of cool people but I’m sorry you’re upset about that too 🙄 This isn’t really the right place to air all these grievances though – people come here for cheap recipes, not to read petty spats.

      • Wow. You are really upset about this. Let’s remember that kickstarter isn’t a “purchase,” and you aren’t a customer. It’s an investment scheme, by which people who want to see a project take shape pledge money to help that happen. It’s not unlike pledging to a public radio station or tv station in the US. You value the creator and the ideas, and you wish to use the money you have to support it. Any gifts you receive as a thank you for that support are just that. They are called “rewards” on the site, but they are GIFTS. you aren’t buying them. If you have an issue, use proper channels to express your frustration — kickstarter offers such channels. https://www.kickstarter.com/help/faq/backer+questions?ref=faq_nav#GettRewa

      • Bloody hell mate, calm down! This venom is totally uncalled for – these comments aren’t for ranting about your own issues (coincidentally, Sara’s right, it’s a pledge to help someone out not a purchase of a signed book!)
        Jack: I’m new to trying new recipes. I normally get stressed and het-up whilst cooking so, by the time I’m finished, I just feel sick and never really enjoy the meal. However, I attempted your mushroom and red wine risotto last night and it was flipping amazing! Delicious, simple and cheap (in fact, I already had all the ingredients without needing to traipse to Lidl!)
        So thank you, your books are on my wish list – when January’s pay day rolls around they will be first on my list. Keep at it! 😘

      • Glad you enjoyed the risotto, Fraust! 😗 My self love stew sounds like it might be good for you too, it’s my go-to when i’m feeling a little fraught and anxious in the kitchen. x

  5. I can get gluten free lasagna, but do you have a good recipe for gluten free white sauce? I’ve tried substituting rice flour and it’s awful thin, or very ricey!
    And I awaiting the next book with delight.

    • I’ve made white sauce with cornflour before and it’s worked ok (think savoury version of instant custard!). Or you could try a mixture of cornflour and a ground nut meal (ground almonds for example) – it’d be a different texture, but yummy AND extra nutrients.:)

    • Have you tried Doves Farm gluten free flour? I don’t know what it is like in a white sauce but my daughter uses it as a replacement in things she makes for a gf friend and says it works well.

    • I’m lazy when it comes to gluten free white sauce, in that I just buy a gluten free plain flour blend! In order to thicken it up, I tend to either cook it for a bit longer, or add a bit more butter and flour than you would for a ‘normal’ white sauce as this is what thickens it. Hope this helps!

    • I use gram flour for gluten free sauces. I started with a gravy – 1 grated onion cooked very very slowly in butter or marge; add in gram flour to make a thick paste and cook thoroughly; very slowly add warm stock – I use vecon because I like the taste. Have a nice day and thanks for the lovely recipes Jack.

    • Okay 18 extra recipes. However, what was promised and pledged for, was not delivered. I don’t think you actually understand that. Your signature is not super important at all. But you didn’t deliver. That is the issue.

      • You pledged for a book, you got a book. I genuinely don’t understand why you’re spending 2 days having a go at me about this. Surely we both have less destructive ways to spend our time.

  6. Hi Jack. I’ve been reading your recipes for a few years now. I first saw a few of them on The Guardian website, and that’s how I came to find your blog.
    I think that what you do is really important. Lots of people are trying to figure out how to eat well on very little money these days, and your recipes give people lots of inspiration and guidance on how to do so. It’s great that you give all your recipes away for free, because lots of people all over the world need them, and benefit from your food writing. You’re incredibly resourceful, and make the most of simple ingredients, and that’s what I like most about your recipes.
    Take care, and please keep up the good work. I’ve really enjoyed reading about your journey the last few years, and it’s so cool that you’ve published multiple cookbooks since I read your first articles in The Guardian. You’ve come so far! What a journey. Best wishes to you from America!
    The lasagna also looks amazing!

  7. Fuck me, people are rude. Jack, thank you for all that you do – even solely on the basis of taking the time and effort to keep us all in ideas on how to eat cheaply and tastily. You’ve certainly influenced my habits and I’m always grateful for the inspiration (best mushrooms ever even worked on my ‘NO MEAL IF THERE’S NO MEAT’ partner!).

    Thumper had it right. However, I prefer “don’t be a dick.”

  8. It looks yummy, but as an omnivore do you have any suggestions about what substitutions to make to the recipe have a beef lasagne instead?

  9. Cooked this tonight. Absolutely beautiful and bonus no meat involved as we’re trying to cut down. My husband, who is a meatatarian loved it. Thanks Jack, this is now my favourite lasagne.

  10. I currently have this in the oven as I type and am SO excited to eat this. As a veggie house I’m always scouring your site for inspiration. I love it! And what’s great is that my wee girl loves helping me too. We’re learning together 🙂
    Thank you for your hard work & posting on here and your IG (which I also follow!)
    I hope 2018 is kind to you x

  11. I’m going to try this minus the greens, hubby is a firm disbeliever of green things so I will have them on the side. What a shame people have to hide behind their keyboards, probably with made up aliases, and be arseh@les.

  12. I don’t have lasagne sheets, but think I will make the ragu and use it in a pasta bake. I have loads of mushrooms that need using. Thanks to extensive use of your recipes, I am now eating real food. I have lost a couple of stone over the past 2 years, my blood pressure is down, and my blood sugar has reduced from prediabetic to normal. So thanks for the good food, and improved health, which is priceless.

  13. This looks amazing. I’m a vegetarian doing Veganuary with the view to stay vegan. I came here for some new recipe inspiration and this is right up my street. Thanks

  14. I am really looking forward to making this dish especially as not everyone loves mushrooms as much as I do. Wondering if they will be able to tell. I’m keen to reduce the amount of meat we eat. Thank you Jack ,you are very generous with your recipes.

  15. Saw this early this morning while I was struggling to sleep and mooching about on Twitter. Inspired me to make it tonight as it looked so good. Super tasty! Thanks, Jack 😊 I’ve only just started to look at your recipes and I already love what you do.

  16. I love your recipes Jack – & this is another great one which will suit me as I don’t eat meat. My daughter’s vegan though & reminded me to check ingredients list on lasagne as some makes contain egg.

  17. Looks lush, will definitely try. Glad the troll has quietened down Jack. Happy new year – you continue to be an inspiration to me, my daughter, and countless other people.x

  18. Jack thank you so much for this recipe, tried it last night and its amazing!
    You have inspired me so much over the years, thank you for being so incredible and for everything you do.
    After some big life changes at the end of last year, I have finally embraced veganism. Not sure why it has taken me so long!
    In an article a while back I remember you saying that you really study nutritional information to make sure you get what you need from a plant based diet. I keep looking for meal plans and recommended intake of different foods/ nutrients but there seems to be so much conflicting information depending on what government/ chef/ food guru you believe. Any tips on how to have a fully balanced vegan diet and what different categories I should be trying to consume each day?
    Thank you again, you seem to be an incredibly thoughtful, caring, intelligent person and you improve the world with your ideas.
    Lots of love and warm wishes, S x

  19. Hi Jack.
    A quick question please. Recipe says green or red lentils. I find that red go to mush so quickly but green would require all that time in the recipe to cook which is grand. What do you think. Would the red going mushy affect the taste or texture.
    Thank you.
    Also, love your work

      • Made it tonight Jack. So gorgeous. I used extra, soon to go off tomatoes: I also used a mixture of a tin of puy lentils and soya mince. The gravy granules, even though vegan, seemed to give it a kinda meaty taste. I’ve made vegan lasagne before, but this was the best ever
        Thanks

  20. I made this today and it was AMAZING! I surprised myself and even the kids ate it (toughest critics haha). I made half the recipe and that easily fed me and two small children, plus, I’d say, left overs for 3 adult mains (if served with veg) so filling!
    I used more liquid than the recipe (full tin of toms in my half recipe and some water too to cook the ragu) and I didn’t have enough bechimal so I resorted to a tesco ‘free from’ white sauce jar for the last layer…I spread some mustard on the lasagna sheets first and sprinkled on a bit of nutritional yeast with the breadcrumbs. (hope you don’t mind me sharing my tweaks!). Thanks so much for your recipes Jack! 🙂

  21. Ignore the troll under the bridge I love your recipes. I love that you price them fom Sainsbury’s – some of us don’t have access to the discount supermarkets or even a market from which to source even cheaper. I have been cooking for many many decades and am so pleased that there are now so many sources of good cheap recipes. Jack’s are very good, she knows what it is like to have to cook cheaply, not to choose to cook cheaply. I love the way that you chat along, just as if you are in the kitchen with us, telling us what can be subbed and what is optional. Thank you so much for allowing me to continue with my love of cooking, and trying new recipes that are not going to break my limited bank account. Keep up the good work because I miss you when you are not here.

  22. Has anyone used a milk other than cashew or soya? Trying veganuary but I’ve got a nut allergy. Looks amazing – will give it a go after veganuary if I can’t solve my milk problem!

  23. Made this today and it was devoured by the whole family. It does take an investment in time to cook the lentil rags but really worth it.

  24. I made this today and it was delicious! So flavourful. I have to say that it might have cost a slight bit more than advertised as another commenter stated (not sure though as I am in Canada), but it was definitely the least expensive lasagna I have ever made ! Thank you so much for the delicious recipe Jack and for giving me back the ability to have lasagna that isn’t processed as a vegan! I also added the nutmeg as another commenter suggested and it was a great touch!

  25. HI Jack, If I was going to add some meat instead (like mince) or in addition to the lentils (like chicken) in the dish, would that work with the recepie? I really like the lentil idea but keen to put a bit of meat in too!

  26. This might be a really stupid question (I’m not much of a cook!), but you mention freezing individual portions. Do you mean make the whole lasagne, cook it and then freeze the cooked portions, or make the lasagne in the individual foil containers (and if so, do you freeze them raw or after cooking?)?
    Thanks!

Any thoughts? Comment below!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s