This is a delicious alternative to the common lasagne al forno, and easier and quicker to prepare too. I think it is lighter than the meat version. It’s packed full of protein and tastes fresh and cheesy.
If you want to make a vegetarian version, simply leave out the streaky bacon. If you do that though, add ½ a teaspoon of smoked paprika instead to keep a smoky hint to the dish.
People sometimes ask me what they should serve with lasagne. I always say, a knife and fork! Lasagne with Puy lentils is the ultimate one-pot dish. It has carbohydrates, protein, milk, dairy, vegetables and (mostly) healthy fats. And fibre, vitamins and minerals to boot. And, unlike shop-bought lasagnes, no added sugar.
For the lentils…
250g Puy lentils, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
80g (4 rashers) rindless smoked streaky bacon, finely chopped
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 large celery stick, finely diced
400g tin chopped tomatoes (preferable Mutti tomato pulp)
½ tsp dried thyme
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
For the béchamel…
50g plain flour
800ml whole milk
Freshly ground black pepper
For the finished dish…
10 to 12 sheets (200g to 250g) lasagne (the no pre-cook variety)
150g strong mature cheddar, grated
60g grated parmesan
You will also need a 30cm x 20cm lasagne dish or glass/ceramic baking dish, buttered.
Bring a large saucepan of unsalted water to a boil and add the lentils. Cover and simmer until just cooked, approx. 35 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile make the sauce to go with the lentils. Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the bacon and stir-fry until cooked and starting to crisp. Remove to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Add the onions to the pan and sauté gently until starting to soften, approx. 5 minutes. Stir in the carrot and celery, cover, turn the heat down low and allow the vegetables to sweat and soften for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, thyme, chilli, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Cook part covered for about 30 minutes until the vegetables have softened and the sauce has thickened. Stir in the lentils and check the seasoning.
Next make the béchamel. Put the butter, flour and milk in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring continuously with a balloon whisk. Leave to simmer on a very low heat for 8 minutes, stirring it with the balloon whisk a couple of times. Take off the heat and season with salt and pepper.
To assemble the dish, spread one quarter of the lentils onto the bottom of the dish, then add a layer of lasagne sheets. Add another quarter of the lentils, a layer of one third of the béchamel and sprinkle with half of the cheddar. Repeat by adding another layer of lasagne, another quarter of the lentils, another third of the béchamel and sprinkle with the remaining cheddar. Add a final layer of lasagne, the last quarter of the lentils and the last third of the béchamel. Sprinkle the surface with the grated parmesan.
The dish can now be covered in cling film and stored in the fridge until needed.
To cook the dish, heat the oven to 180°c and bake the lasagne for 30 to 45 minutes until brown and bubbling.