This mushroom and bean lasagne is one we had occasionally when I was a growing up. I remember it as a fairly uncommon special occasion treat – as was anything requiring a bit of prep time! The mushroom and bean combination is fabulous – it was probably designed to be ‘meaty’ but I just like it because it’s delicious 🙂 I’m not sure where the recipe came from originally, but I always looked forward to it; and when I’ve made it since I always enjoy it more than I remember – and there is little higher praise that that!.
Lasagne has always been one of those multi-stage dishes that, to me at least, seems incredibly laborious if you try to make in one hit, and absurdly easy if you spread it over a day or so. For a classic meat lasagne, if you have the meat sauce and béchamel made the day before, the whole process is about 10 minutes of layering plus 30 minutes of baking. If you’re making the whole thing in one hit, it might take a couple of hours.
For this lasagne, you have a couple of extra components, but the layering and baking is much the same, and I find that when I have the sauce prepared beforehand, it feels like no effort at all to throw together. The beans should be soaked the day before as well, or you could use a couple of tins of kidney beans – just drain and mash. I’ve added silverbeet this time, and you could easily substitute a range of alternatives – grilled eggplant or zucchini, roasted sweet potato slices – any vegetable that would go with the sauce. Even the sauce could have other vegetables added or substituted for the mushrooms; though I think the beans are important for bulk and protein.
Mushroom and red bean lasagne
- 175g small red beans (use kidney beans if you can’t find them)
- 2 onions
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 Tbs olive oil
- 500ml passata (or 4Tbs tomato paste plus water)
- 2 sprigs oregano
- 1 sprig basil
- 3 sprigs parsley
- 2-3 tsp salt
- 500g mushrooms or 250g plus 250g silverbeet/spinach (frozen is fine)
- 250g instant lasagne sheets
- 375g mozarella
- 500g ricotta
- 1/2 c grated parmesan
Soak beans in plenty of water overnight. Drain, cover with fresh water and simmer for about 30 minutes until soft. Drain and mash roughly.
If using fresh silverbeet or spinach, wash thoroughly, remove stalks and chop leaves roughly. Cook leaves in a small saucepan, ‘steaming’ them in the water remaining on the leaves, until they’ve wilted. Slice the mushrooms and sauté in 1 Tbs oil until tender and starting to caramelise.
Chop the onion and garlic finely. Heat 2 Tbs oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and saute onion and finely sliced silverbeet stalks (if using silverbeet), for about 10 minutes until soft. Add garlic and fry another couple of minutes. Add passata, oregano, basil and salt, and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in beans, mushrooms, and chopped basil and parsley. Season well to taste with salt and pepper, remembering that the other filling components aren’t seasoned. This can all be done a day or more beforehand.
Slice mozzarella and get ready to layer. In a large baking dish, spread a small amount of the sauce. Top with 1/3 of the pasta sheets, 1/3 of the remaining sauce, 1/3 of the ricotta, and 1/3 of the mozzarella. Repeat twice until all filling is used, adding the silverbeet leaves (if using) in the second layer on top of the sauce. Top the final layer of mozzarella with the parmesan.
Cover with foil or a tray, and bake at 190C for approximately 30 minutes, removing the foil after 20 minutes, until golden and bubbling, and a knife point goes easily through the lasagne sheets. If it dries out too much before the pasta is fully cooked, add a little hot water around the edge of the dish and bake for another 5 minutes. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Serves 6 generously