You don’t have to be a vegetarian to love this version of lasagne. The vegetable layers can be varied, depending on what is available. Use slices of sweet potato instead of pumpkin, a layer of sautéed mushrooms rather than spinach and leeks, or add pesto to the tomato sauce in place of fresh basil.
750g eggplant, cut into 1cm thick slices
125ml (½ cup) extra virgin olive oil
500g pumpkin, peeled (peeled weight 415g), cut into 5mm thick slices
4 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
8 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp castor sugar
⅓ cup basil, torn
2 bunches English spinach, trimmed and washed
1 large leek, white part only, chopped
600g fresh lasagne sheets
100g (¾ cup) finely grated parmesan cheese
mixed leaf salad, to serve
90g butter, chopped
90g plain flour
750ml (3 cups) warm milk
75g (¾ cup) grated tasty cheddar cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the eggplant on a baking tray and brush with 2 tablespoons oil. Season to taste. Roast for 30 minutes, turning once, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and drain on paper towel.
2. Meanwhile, to make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan, add the flour and stir over low heat until the mixture is dry and grainy. Gradually whisk in the milk and slowly bring to a simmer. Season to taste and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally, until thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool slightly.
3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, simmer the tomatoes and their juice, 2 tablespoons oil, garlic and sugar for 8-10 minutes, or until thick. Season to taste and stir in the basil.
4. Toss the spinach in a large frying pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until wilted. Drain. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out excess moisture, then chop. Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and cook the leek over low heat until soft. Remove from the heat, stir in the spinach and season to taste. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C.
5. Rub butter over the sides and base of a 3 litre heatproof casserole dish (about 19cm x 35cm x 7.5cm) and place a layer of pasta over the base. Top with eggplant slices then half the tomato sauce. Top with one-third of the cheese sauce, then a layer of pasta, a layer of pumpkin, another third of the cheese sauce and another layer of pasta. Top with the spinach mixture, the remaining tomato sauce and another layer of pasta. Spread the remaining cheese sauce over the top and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.
6. Place the dish on an oven tray and bake for 45 minutes, or until browned and bubbling. Let stand for 10 minutes, then serve with a rocket salad.