RECIPES

Artichoke Lasagna

Richard’s mum, Margaret, loves artichokes, and with her in mind; this recipe was devised. This has since become a family favorite, which Simone and I prepare for a lazy lunch with my family. This dish serves 4 – 6 people.

Ingredients

  • Precooked lasagna sheets
  • 2 – 3 x 410 g tins artichoke hearts, drained, cut into halves or quarters

Roasted tomato purée:

  • 1 kg red tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 3 large red onions, peeled and sliced
  • 45 ml olive oil
  • 15 ml sugar
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • 15 ml fresh or 5 ml dried basil
  • 300 ml tomato purée

Cheese Sauce:

  • 120 g butter or margarine (120 ml)
  • 120 g cake flour (180 ml)
  • 1 litre milk
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste
  • 100 g mature Cheddar cheese, grated (250 ml)
  • 15 ml prepared mustard

Topping:

  • 100 g Cheddar cheese, grated (250 ml)
  • 60 g mozzarella cheese, grated (125 ml)
  • 50 g fresh Parmesan cheese, grated

Method

  1. Roasted tomato purée: Place tomatoes, red onions, olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper and basil, into a roasting pan. Roast at 200ºC/180ºC fan/Gas mark 5 for 25 – 30 minutes; add the tomato purée.
  2. Place into a food processor fitted with the double-knife stainless-steel blade; or use a plunge blender, and process or purée together, until mixture is still slightly coarse. Check seasoning.
  3. Make cheese sauce: Melt butter in a large saucepan. Stir in the flour, and cook for a further 2 minutes. Pour in the milk; whisk well. Keep stirring until sauce thickens. Season to taste. Add in cheese and mustard, and whisk well to combine.
  4. Assemble: Place a thin layer of cheese sauce on the bottom of a lasagne dish; arrange lasagne sheets on top of sauce, followed by a layer of tomato sauce. Scatter half of the artichoke hearts evenly over the tomato sauce. Follow this with a layer of cheese sauce.
  5. Repeat layers, ending with cheese sauce.
  6. Top with a mixture of the Cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
  7. Bake at 180ºC/160ºC fan/Gas mark 4 for 35 – 40 minutes, until golden brown.

Tips:

  • Trim sharp edges of fresh artichoke leaves with a pair of kitchen scissors.
  • It is important to drain the tinned artichokes very well, as they retain a lot of liquid; this will water down the sauce. Fresh artichokes are best trimmed and soaked in lemon juice and water for at least an hour, to remove grit and dirt particles. Cook fresh artichokes in boiling water half-way up the inside of the pan, adding 30 ml olive oil and 10 ml salt to the water. Cook for 40 – 45 minutes. Drain; use in the recipe above, or serve on their own with a delicious sauce.