Veggie Lasagne for National Vegetarian Week

It's National Vegetarian Week and what better way to start the ball rolling than with the vegetarian classic, veggie lasagne. A great pasta  dish loved by all and a terrific way to introduce and tempt meat-eaters to enjoy vegetarian food.

Veggie Lasagne. Comfort food at it's best. There are many variations of this dish around. It can be made with soya, tofu, quorn, spinach and ricotta or just roast vegetables (Delia does a lovely version of this) to name but a few. My personal favourite uses soya mince or tvp as it is sometimes known. I use my bolognaise recipe as a base, so I can have some on spaghetti and use the rest in lasagne. It freezes really well, so you can make it ahead of time and freeze it until you are ready to use it.

Veggie Lasagne



1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 large carrots, finely chopped
250g mushrooms, finely chopped
100g soya mince/200g frozen soya mince
1 pint/2 cups vegetable stock
800g/2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 glass white wine
100g tomato puree

1 handful freshly torn basil
salt & pepper to taste


  1. Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil until translucent. Add the carrots and cook until tender, then add the mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes.
  2. Add the soya mince and stir in well. Pour in the vegetable stock, chopped tomatoes and wine, stir in. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. You may find you need more liquid if you are using dried soya. You can add extra stock or extra wine.
  3. Add the tomato puree and simmer for another 20 minutes. Taste and season with salt & pepper. Scatter in some torn basil at the last minute.
  4. Set aside

Bechamel Sauce


500ml/2½ cups milk
25g/¼ stick butter
25g plain flour
10 black peppercorns
1 thick slice of onion
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper


  1. Heat the milk in a saucepan with the peppercorns, onion and bay leaf. Bring to the boil and then strain off the peppercorns, onion and the bay leaf.
  2. In another saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Add a little milk at a time and whisk until mixture thickens, then add a little more milk and do the same until all the milk is used.
  3. Bring the sauce to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes, keep whisking. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Lasagne Sheets

I use no-cook lasagne sheets, but I always think they benefit from being blanched in boiling water for a few mintes. I generally use about 8 sheets to cover two layers, cutting to fit as I go, but do lay the sheets in the dish you intend to use to see how many you will need.


250g mozzarella grated
½ cup grated vegetarian parmesan


  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/350°f/180°c.
  2. Spread a generous layer of bolognaise over the base of a large oven-proof dish.
  3. Cover with a layer of blanched lasagne sheets.
  4. Spread a second layer of bolognaise sauce and once again top with lasagne sheets.
  5. Top with a thick layer of bechamel sauce, then cover with grated mozzarella and a generous sprinkling of parmesan.
  6. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Serves 4-6

As you can see, we served our lasagne with vegetables, but it would be just as lovely with a side salad and some garlic bread. I had enough bolognaise leftover to send my brother-in-law home with enough for two helpings of spaghetti and there was plenty of lasagne left to enjoy again the next night.

Cooper thought the lasagne looked lovely too. He kept diving towards it with his hands outstretched. Bless!

National Vegetarian Week has been running in conjunction with the Vegetarian Society for 18 years now. Although there have been mentions of Vegetarian Days held way back in the 30's. It's a great event that gives schools, canteens, caterers, restaurants, libraries and individuals a reason to focus on increasing fruit and veg consumption and look at the issues around food or simply a chance to try something different. So why not join in and try some tasty vegetarian dishes this week?

Extreme Chocolate, Chocolate Cake

It was my brother-in-law's birthday last weekend, so I invited him over for dinner. It took me some time to decide what to cook. We had curry last time he was over and he ended up taking over the cooking whilst I fed Cooper, so this time, I wanted to have dinner well underway and just ready to pop in the oven when he arrived.

I decided to make veggie lasagne as it is such a long time since we enjoyed it last and homemde lasagne is always rather special. It is an easy dish, even though it requires quite a bit of preparation. I realised I haven't posted my recipe for it, so I will rectify that sometime this week.

My next decision was whether to make dessert or bake a cake, but heck, it was his birthday, so cake it was. I sat on the livingroom floor surrounded by recipe books, trying to decide and let me tell you it was no easy job, but I eventually settled on a chocolate cake from 101 Chocolate Treats. All I can say is extreme chocolate rush!

Extreme Chocolate, Chocolate Cake

225g/30 squares dark chocolate, broken up
200g/1 ¾ sticks butter, diced
1 tbsp coffee granules
85g/¾ cup self-raising flour
85g/¾ cup plain flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g/1 ¼ light muscovado sugar (I used demerara sugar)
200g/1 cup caster sugar
125ml/2⁄3 cup water
25g/¼ cup cocoa powder
3 large eggs, beaten
5 tbsp buttermilk (or same of milk, with a squeeze of lemon mixed in)
grated curls of chocolate to decorate


284ml/1 ½ cups double cream
2 tbsp caster sugar
225g/30 squares chocolate, broken up

Preheat oven to 160c/gas mark 3/fan 140c. Butter and line a 20cm/8 inch round and 7.5cm/3 inch deep cake tin.

Melt the chocolate with the butter, coffee granules and water.

Mix together the flours, soda, sugars and cocoa powder. Mix the eggs with the buttermilk. Stir the chocolate and egg mixtures into the flour until smooth and quite runny. Pour into the tin and bake for 1½ hours until the top is firm and a skewer inserted, comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin and then turn out onto a wire rack. When completely cool slice into two or three layers.

Next make the ganache. Scold the cream and sugar in a pan and pour over the broken chocolate pieces, then stir until melted and smooth. Leave to cool for a few minutes before spreading between the layers and smoothed over the whole cake. Sprinkle with chocolate curls.

As you can see, my cake would have benefited from a while in the fridge, it was rather warm in the kitchen and conservatory, so the ganache was melting somewhat. Of couse we couldn't wait to have a slice and didn't really care. It was delicious, but I would advise you to only have a small slice.

We sent Lachlan home with some cake and put the rest in the fridge. It came out the next day lovely and firm and fudgey. Mmmmmmmmm.

Quinoa, Lentil & Bean Salad

This was a quickly thrown together dish for dinner tonight, just using what I had to hand. It was a hearty salad with a lovely fresh dressing and lots of lush green coriander.

Quinoa, Lentil & Bean Salad


250g prepared black beluga lentils
250g prepared quinoa
240g prepared kidney beans
2 large ripe tomatoes, diced
2 large avocadoes, diced
1 large handful fresh coriander, chopped


juice of ½ lime
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
freshly ground black pepper


There's not much in the way of preparation. Toss the avocado in some lime juice before adding to the salad, to prevent it from browning. Apart from that is just one of those salads, where you throw everything in and then toss in the dressing.

Serves 6

Homemade Chapatis Recipe

An easy recipe for traditional Indian homemade chapatis, which are flatbreads served with curry.

Homemade Chapatis Recipe

I thought I would try my hand at making chapatis to serve with our Indian meal.

I found a simple recipe by Gayatri Verma on an archived BBC news page from way back in 2003 and converted it into cup measures.

It was easy and it was great fun to make. Especially when I got to hold the chapatis over gas flames to make them puff up.

What are Chapatis?

Chapatis are an Indian flatbread often served with curries.

They are made from chapati or wholemeal flour, oil and water.

How do you make chapatis?

The dough is brought together and kneaded lightly, then left to rest for 10 minutes. Then it is rolled into balls, then rolled out into a flatbread shape.

You then cook then in a hot frying pan or griddle for a couple of minutes on each side.

To puff it up, you then hold it over an open flame. This is where a gas hob comes in handy.

Serve chapatis with curry

The chapatis were just perfect for mopping up the curry sauce and with such an easy and reliable recipe, you can't go wrong.

I do think the chapatis could have done with some seasoning, fresh herbs or a little spice.

I know they don't include any of these as they are just there as an accompliament to spicy food, but I will be adding a little extra flavour next time.

chapatis, flatbread, Indian flatbread, Indian chapatis
Indian, vegan
Yield: 12-14

Homemade Chapatis

Easy traditional Indian homemade chapatis to serve with curry.
prep time: 15 minscook time: 10 minstotal time: 25 mins


  • 3 ¼ cups chapati flour (or wholemeal flour)
  • 1 tbsp oil 
  • 1 cup water approx
  • extra flour for dusting


  1. Mix flour and oil in a bowl and rub lightly. Add water gradually
    and knead it at the same time until a soft dough is formed. Cover and leave it
    for 10 minutes.
  2. Divide the dough into 12 small portions. Dip one portion at a time in the plain flour and roll it with a rolling pin on the board, dipping it in the dry flour frequently to prevent sticking.
  3. In the meantime heat a griddle/frying pan and put the rolled chapati in the pan. Cook one side for 20 to 30 seconds, turn it over and then cook the other side.
  4. Now remove the pan and put the chapati on a high flame for few seconds and soon it will puff up.
  5.  Using a tong, turn the chapati over and wait for few seconds until brown spots appear this side.
  6. Remove from flame and put it on a kitchen towel. 
  7. Repeat the process with rest of the flour balls.
  8. Serve these hot with any curry. 
  9. Enjoy!


To keep the chapatis soft and warm, wrap in foil. They can also be warmed in a microwave for few seconds just before eating.
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Created using The Recipes Generator

Serve the chapati with...


Spicy Spinach and Potato Curry (from 660 Curries)

A traditional Indian potato and spinach curry from the 660 cookbook. Suitable for vegans and low calorie too, coming in at only 294 calories per serving.

Spicy Spinach and Potato Curry (from 666 Curries)

660 Curries

No, calm down. I haven't made 660 curries.

It is the title of a wonderful book by Raghavan Iyer bought for me by my dear friend Lisa.

At first I was a bit overwhelmed by this tome of a cookbook full of curries, until I realised how it should be used.

It's not one of those coffee table books that you flick through looking at the shiny pictures.

Instead it is a treasure chest full of curries, biryanis, breads, pickles relishes and raitas, to name but a few and the best way to use this book is to choose the ingredients you want to use and then have a browse through the index.

You won't be disappointed.


Related - Saag Aloo (Indian spinach and potato side)


660 curries cookbook

You'll be surprised to hear that the first ingredient I looked up wasn't mushrooms.

I decided I wanted a curry using spinach and so I picked the Spicy Potatoes and Spinach with Blackened Chiles and Coconut Milk.

I changed the curry a little, using chilli flakes, instead of dried red thai chillies, baby new potatoes instead of russet potatoes and I changed the spices a little.

Here's my final recipe. I hope you try it.



Spicy Spinach and Potato Curry (from 666 Curries)

Homemade Chapatis


I served up this curry with our favouite Chickpea Curry, rice, mango chutney and chapatis.

The chapatis were great fun to make and I was very impressed when I realised there were flames involved.

I managed to make them without being burned, but I did smash a kilner jar reaching for my camera at the table.


Graham wasn't impressed as this is the third thing I have smashed this week, fourth if you include the teeny, tiny jam jar that fell out a cupboard as I opened it today.

Did I mention I was clumsy?

I was ably assisted in the kitchen by my friend Andrew who had come for dinner and Graham, well he sat back and enjoyed the meal knowing he was in charge of clearing up afterwards.

The wee boy quietly supervised from the armchair in the corner, throwing in the occasional comment.

curry, Indian recipe, Indian curry, potato and spinach curry, traditional Indian curry, vegan curry
Dinner, main course
Indian, vegan
Yield: 4-6
Spicy Spinach and Potato Curry

Spicy Spinach and Potato Curry

A traditional Indian potato and spinach curry from the 660 cookbook. Suitable for vegans and low calorie too, coming in at only 294 calories per serving.
prep time: 10 minscook time: 25 minstotal time: 35 mins


  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 16 baby new potatoes, quartered (approx 1 ½ cm pieces)
  • 240g baby spinach
  • 400ml coconut milk


  1. Dry roast the seeds in a hot pan for a few minutes. Don't allow to burn. Grind the spices in a pestle and mortar.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan. Add the spices and allow to sizzle for a few minutes before adding the rinsed and chopped potatoes. The oil will sparks, so put the lid on until it settles, then stir occasionally for the next 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the salt, turmeric and chilli flakes. Then pour in the coconut milk and stir to deglaze the pan. Bring to the boil and simmer gently, with the lid on for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  4. Rinse the spinach and then add to the pan. There is no need to chop it, it will wilt down as it cooks. Stir well before serving.
  5. Enjoy!


Nutritional information and calories are for 6 portions. There are 294 calories when divided into 6 portions and 442 when divided into 4 large portions.
fat (grams)
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Created using The Recipes Generator


Related - Aubergine & Onion Masala (slow cooker recipe)


Try this next!

Easy Spinach and Coconut Dal

Disclosure Statement: I did not receive this book free from the publisher to review. This book was my own copy, which I decided to review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Cranberry & White Chocolate Cookies

It's cookie time again.

I got this recipe from Maria over at The Goddess's Kitchen. I doubled the original recipe and changed it into cup measures. I like to have lots of cookies to share around.

This is my 'go to' recipe whenever I want a blonde cookie. I have baked it a few times, changing about the fillings and they always turn out beautifully. So, if you are looking for a good blonde cookie recipe, then this is the one for you. If you would prefer it in metric, the original recipe is here.

If you love white chocolate try white chocolate and peppermint truffles.

Cranberry & White Chocolate Cookies

250g/1 cup butter, softened
½ cup demerara sugar
½ cup caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks
2 ½ cups plain flour
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180C/ fan 160C/ Gas 4.

Beat together the butter and sugar until it is pale and creamy, either in an electric mixer or by hand.

Beat in the vanilla extract and egg yolk.

Add the flour, cranberries and white chocolate chips. Mix until you have a smooth dough, with the only lumps being the chocolate and fruit.

Using your hands, roll the dough into golf sized balls and lightly press each one flat on to a greased baking sheet, making sure they are spread slightly apart.

Bake for 12 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and let cool for a couple of minutes before moving onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 24

How to Cook Tofu

I know that many of my regular readers will be experts at cooking with tofu, but for me it is quite a new experience, so I thought I would document my efforts as I go.

Tofu is something I have avoided like the plague for years. I think I may have had it once and disliked it so much I decided it just wasn't for me. It really needs to be treated with respect and if it's done wrong it's just nasty.

I think I've now cracked it!

I did a bit of research online to see how other people were cooking their tofu and came up with this technique and marinade.

Cooking Tofu

1. Open your packet of tofu and drain away any excess liquid.

2. Slice the tofu into strips and then cut into triangles.

3. Place the triangles onto a clean, dry tea towel and gently squeeze out the moisture.

4. Fry the tofu in a dry pan until each side is golden brown.

5. Soak in a marinade for a few hours.

6. Add to stir-fry along with your choice of vegetables and sauce.

7. Enjoy.

Teriyaki Marinade


1 clove garlic, minced
2 cm piece fresh ginger, finely grated
2 tbsp brown sugar
½ cup teriyaki sauce
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup apple juice

  1. Mix all the ingredients together and leave to rest for half an hour before adding the tofu. 
  2. Leave the dry-fried tofu in the marinade for a few hours. You may use the tofu after half an hour, but it won't have as much flavour as it would if left to soak longer.
  3. Then add the tofu to a stirfry.
  4. Use the leftover marinade as a dressing for stir-fry and noodles. Very tasty.


Blueberry Muffins

These blueberry muffins are from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. A colourful and sumptious treat of a book full of cupcakes, muffins, pies, brownies, cakes, cookies and cheesecakes. I probably choose one of the plainest recipes in the book, but I was craving blueberries, so it had to be.

Here is a bit of blurb about the bakery; "The Hummingbird Bakery landed in Portobello Road in early 2004. We wanted to provide Londoners with an alternative to supermarket cakes and French patisseries.

We didn't know where we could buy real cupcakes, fluffy with buttercream icing, moist chocolate layer cakes or genuine American pies - so we decided to make and sell them ourselves! Our simple, unfussy recipes have proved very popular."

Very popular indeed, they have gone on to open two more shops in London, with another one to open by the end of the year and plans to go overseas. Their cookbook sold over 100,000 copies last year.

print recipe

Blueberry Muffins
Blueberry muffins. Perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack. Light, fluffy and packed with squishy, sweet, blueberries.
  • 360g plain flour
  • 370g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 to 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 375ml buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 70g unsalted butter, melted
  • 250g blueberries
Preheat oven to 170c/325f, gas mark 3.

Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Put the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl and use an electric blender or a hand whisk and beat.

Pour in the buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract into a jug and mix to combine. Slowly pour into the flour mixture and beat until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Pour in the melted butter and beat until the butter is just incorporated, then beat until the batter is even and smooth.

Finally, gently fold in the blueberries with a wooden spoon until evenly dispersed.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the muffins to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Cook time: Total time:
Yield: 12 muffins

Here are a few more muffin recipes for you to enjoy:

* Buttermilk, Beetroot & Apple Muffins
* Chocolate Maple Muffins
* Double Chocolate Muffins
* Jammie Doughnut Muffins
* Pear & Ginger Muffins
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