LASAGNE PASTA BAKE + Parsley & Cashew Pesto

August 24th, 2021

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When deciding on a recipe to share today I was a little stumped. If you are in New Zealand like me, life has taken a twisty turn and everything I had planned for the coming weeks is now suspended in the air, not quite sure where and how it is going to land. I am doing my best not to get too caught up in the unknown and focus on those things I can do every day to move forward. Walks, rest, balance screen time, place a few pieces of a thousand-piece puzzle, cook with my children… and wait.

This dinner recipe is one of simplicity and comfort. Based on classic lasagne flavours but without the intricacies of layering and long cooking. It is versatile and ingredients can easily be substituted to work with what is at hand. The pesto is optional – I currently have a large amount of parsley coming out of the garden. The result of leaving hundreds of self-germinated parsley seedlings to their own devices. This seemed like a good plan when they were small, now I am drowning in parsley. Although, I am not complaining as I can happily dollop this pesto onto almost everything (ok, maybe not ice cream 😉

*I would love to see your version if you make it (or any of my recipes), tag me at @nicolagallowayfood.

Lasagne Pasta Bake

My son loves lasagne but I don’t make it often due to the lengthy preparation time involved. So I came up with this weeknight pasta bake inspired by the elements of a lasagne and it got the (big) thumbs up. The baking time is halved compared to a layered lasagne thanks to par-boiling the pasta. And it can be made with mince or meat-free using a selection of seasonal vegetables – see recipe for variation.
Servings 4
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes

Equipment

  • My son loves lasagne but I don’t make it often due to the lengthy preparation time involved. So I can up with a weeknight pasta bake inspired by the elements of a lasagne and it got the (big) thumbs up. The baking time is halved compared to a layered lasagne thanks to par-boiling the pasta. And it can be made with mince or meat-free using a selection of seasonal vegetables – see recipe for variation.

Ingredients

  • 250 g spiral pasta - can use gluten-free pasta
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 400 g lamb or beef mince
  • OR 2 cups of chopped vegetables – eg mushrooms, carrot, pumpkin, broccoli
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 400 g can chopped tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to season

Spinach Bechamel Sauce

  • 50 g butter
  • 1/3 cup (50g) flour - can use gluten-free flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (375ml) milk - can use dairy-free milk such as oat milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 large bunch spinach or 200g frozen spinach, finely chopped
  • 50 g parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • Cracked pepper
  • 150 g mozzarella, thinly sliced or 1 cup grated edam cheese
  • Handful of pumpkin seeds

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 190C. Lightly grease a 25 × 30cm baking dish.
  • In a large saucepan bring 2 litres of water to a rapid boil. Add the pasta and salt and boil for about 6 minutes until the pasta is almost cooked. Drain in a colander.
  • Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frypan, add the onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes to soften. Add the mince and cook until the mince is browned, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon. If using vegetables, saute with the onions for 5 minutes.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and oregano and cook over a moderate heat for 10 minutes until the sauce thickens. Stir through the par-boiled pasta, check seasoning, and tip into the prepared baking dish.
  • Using the pasta cooking pan, prepare the spinach sauce. Melt the butter and add the flour. Stir to make a roux (paste) then slowly add the milk. Whisk constantly until the sauce thickens. Add the salt, spinach, grated parmesan and cracked pepper. Stir to combine.
  • Pour the spinach sauce over the pasta layer and top with slices of mozzarella or grated cheese. Scatter with pumpkin seeds and place in the oven. Cook until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbly about 25-30 minutes. Serve hot with parsley pesto and salad.

Parsley & Cashew Pesto #dairyfree

This pesto is naturally dairy-free, using cashews and lemon to bring creaminess and sharpness of flavour.
Servings 250 ml
Prep Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch, about 150g parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon, about ¼ cup
  • ½ cup cashews (or toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds)
  • About 150ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to season

Instructions

  • Place the parsley, garlic, lemon juice and cashews into a food processor and blitz until parsley is finely chopped. With the engine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until a thick paste is achieved. Season to taste then scoop into a jar.
  • Store in the fridge and consume with 5 days. Use pesto on sandwiches, stir through pasta or as a side to dinner.

Join the Conversation

  1. Tiffany Thornley says:

    Sounds great will do it

  2. Looks yummy, Nicola. Just what’s needed in our current lockdown…something warm and comforting. I will be making this as I love lasagne but hubby doesn’t. Might be able to get away with this instead! ?.

    1. Enjoy, I hope it goes down well 🙂

      1. Hi Nicola, I just had to come back and let you know that hubby loved the pasta! Yay! Thanks for another lovely recipe. ?

        1. Yipee, the best feedback. Enjoy!

  3. Sylvia Andersen says:

    are your grandparents Rob amd Cilla? I lived close to them Hills Road, Raglan
    Sylvia

    1. Hi Sylvia, my grandparents lived in Nelson. Galloway is a relatively common name 🙂

  4. Thanks for this recipe Nicola, I made it that same night & it was a GREAT success!
    Perfect timing as I needed to clear some NZ spinach out of the vage patch to make room for some spring planting. Having the spinach in the topping was a clever variation, I often put it on the bottom of my lasagne, but this was nicer.
    On Sunday we will try your Berry Baked Pancake for our brunch with last years berries from the freezer. Mum used to make a baked pancake but she called it French Pancake while my American sister-in-law called it Big Dutch Baby! But we served the fruit on top after, I like to try this way of baking it in the batter.
    Kind regards

    1. That is great to hear Clare. I like the spinach in the sauce too but also sometimes add to the layers of a lasagne.
      I hope you enjoy the baked pancake. I am sure it has a few names. The berries work well to be scattered on top to cook with the pancake.
      Enjoy 🙂

  5. Hi Nicola,
    I look forward to making this recipe! Just wondering if the spinach needs to be blanched first or did you add it raw to the sauce? Do you think finely chopped silverbeet would work as well?
    Thanks so much!
    Julia

    1. Hi Julia
      That is right, the spinach is added raw to the hot sauce and stirred through. It will wilt and then cook more in the oven. If using silverbeet either remove the stalks or chop them extra fine as they will take longer to soften.
      Enjoy
      Nicola

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