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Black Bean Lasagna

This is my own (inadvertent) version of a dish of my mother-in-law's. I had never had vegetarian lasagne before meeting my then boyfriend (now husband). He made this for me back when we were still living in Edinburgh a long time ago. I really enjoyed it (even if he did freak out a little about the layering) and it is a dish that has stuck around ever since. I decided I wanted to make it last week but couldn't be bothered to pull up the recipe, so I set about making it from memory. I thought that my conception was pretty close to the original until Hubby called me out on it. I still haven't checked the original recipe but there are some bits that have ended up changing. Here it is!


1 tbsp olive oil

3 onions, chopped

1/2 head garlic, minced

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp sumac

1 tsp tandoori powder

2 black beans, cooked, OR 3/4c dried + 1 tsp baking soda

3 c tinned tomatoes

1 1/2 c spinach

1 1/2 - 2 c ricotta

3/4 c coriander, chopped

3/4 c parmesan, grated

1/2 c mozzarella, grated

Lasagne sheets

2-3 tbsp butter, melted

Salt and pepper to taste

1) If using dried black beans, start by cooking them at a simmer with 1 tsp baking soda until tender.

2) Heat olive oil over medium heat in a frying pan and sauté onions and garlic. Add these, the spices and the tomatoes to the black beans and cook for around 15 minutes, allowing the flavours to meld and the sauce to start to thicken (add a little water to the beans if necessary). Using a fork, mash up the beans, or partially blitz the sauce.

3) Mix the spinach with the ricotta. Brush a lasagne pan with melted butter and begin layering: sauce, ricotta and spinach, a handful of coriander, lasagne sheets, brush with butter, some parmesan. Repeat until the layers near the top of the pan. For the final layer, ladle some sauce over the lasagne sheets and sprinkle mozzarella over the top. Pepper generously.

4) Bake at 200°C for about 40 minutes, until crispy on top and noodles are tender when stabbed. Serve warm.

I was very happy with how this came out. It was moist and rich and very tasty, with a lovely deep flavour from the beans, and very cheesy. I made the ricotta for it fresh just before assembly too! Mixing the beans in with the sauce means that they stay nice and moist, and the whole dish was too, without being wet. I find this very satisfying, and as much as I like a good, traditional meat lasagne, I also like having different options and variations up my sleeve when the need or the fancy arises. I am indebted to my mother-in-law for the original, and am very pleased with this version.

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