Despite the best efforts of the weather to derail my fun (I had naively thought that by May I would be able to discard my winter boots), it was a brilliant weekend here in the north west. On Saturday I hopped on a train over to Leeds for the Yorkshire Vegan Festival – it was on a much smaller scale than the eye-opening Vegfest in Brighton, but was still absolutely amazing. I saw goth girls in bonnets, was called both “baby” and “my love” by my idol, Ms Cupcake, and stocked up on vegan junk food (vegan peanut butter cups are my new favourite thing).
And then on Sunday I took a trip through the winding country roads out to Haworth, a beautiful and historic little town best known for its famous residents, the Brontes. We had a talk on the family given by one of the museum’s extremely passionate and well-informed staff, then strolled around the church where their father worked and the lovely house which still contains most of the original furniture and artefacts. It was quite extraordinary and inspiring to see the very desk where Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre – and quite morbid to see the very sofa where Emily died.
Feeling full of enthusiasm and inspiration, I returned home to order a copy of Villette from the library and enjoy a weekend debrief with my beau over some delicious cakes courtesy of my idol. We also tucked into a slice of this tasty lasagne, my first attempt since going vegan. I was rather anxious about how the tofu layer would work, but it was delightful – creamy and delicious. Next time I’m planning to experiment with a roasted vegetable filling, and maybe some vegan cheese on top, if I’m feeling extra bold!
Spinach & Mushroom Lasagne
Serves 4, from Veganomicon
For the sauce:
1 tsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
3 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tsp each dried thyme, oregano and basil
For the tofu ricotta:
1 pack tofu
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup plain flour
For the lasagne:
1 tbsp olive oil
200g baby button mushrooms
1. Start with the sauce: heat the oil in a large pan and fry the garlic for a minute or two.
2. Pour in the tomatoes, dried herbs and seasoning. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.
3. While that’s simmering, get the ricotta ready. Crumble the block of tofu into a large bowl.
4. Add the lemon and basil and mush again with your hands.
5. Add the oil and flour and stir together with a fork until it has a ricotta-like texture. Set aside in the fridge until needed.
6. Preheat the oven to 200C. Prepare the filling next. Steam the spinach for about 7 minutes.
7. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the mushrooms for about 7 minutes.
8. Squeeze the excess water out of the spinach and finely chop it.
9. Next, begin assembling the lasagne. Ladle some of the sauce into the bottom of a large dish and spread it around.
10. Top this with a layer of pasta.
11. Carefully cover this with a layer of half the tofu ricotta.
12. And scatter on half of the spinach and mushrooms.
13. Add pour on a third of the sauce.
14. Now repeat your layers: pasta, tofu, spinach and mushrooms, sauce. Top with a final layer of pasta and ladle the remaining third of tomato sauce over the top.
15. Cover the dish with foil.
16. Cook for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and cook for 20 minutes more.