Jane said: “Like many families we try to eat veggie sometimes for health and cost reasons. Some of children are not so keen on all-vegetable dishes, so melted cheese helps! This dish is so tasty they don’t complain about the lack of meat or fish.”
20g dried porcini mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
2 tablespoons dried oregano or mixed herbs
1 cinnamon stick
1 medium aubergine, chopped into 1cm chunks
250g chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 large courgette, chopped into 1cm chunks
1 x 390g pack passata
2 tablespoons tomato purée
500g white potatoes (King Edward or similar)
1 x 400g can of chickpeas, drained
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE SAUCE
500ml semiskimmed milk, plus a little extra to mix with the cornflour
4–5 tablespoons cornflour
150g mature Cheddar, grated, plus extra for sprinkling on top (optional)
A good grind of black pepper
1 Put the dried porcini mushrooms into a bowl and cover with 130ml boiling water.
2 Put the olive oil, onion, garlic, oregano, cinnamon stick, a good grind of pepper and a pinch of salt into a large pan over a low heat and cook until the onions are softened – it should take about 5 minutes. Add the aubergines, chestnut mushrooms and courgettes to the pan, stir through and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the courgettes have started to soften.
3 Remove the dried mushrooms from the liquid – ensuring you retain the liquid – then roughly chop the mushrooms and stir into the vegetable mixture. Once browned, stir in the passata, tomato purée and the mushroom water and leave to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4 Meanwhile peel and slice the potatoes thinly to about the thickness of a £2 coin by hand or using a mandoline. If the slices are any thicker, you’ll have to cook the dish for slightly longer.
5 For the sauce, put the milk in a pan over a low heat and slowly bring to the boil. Mix the cornflour with 2 tablespoons of milk until the consistency of double cream, ensuring all the cornflour is mixed in. Add the cornflour mixture to the milk slowly, stirring continuously until the sauce is the consistency of a thick custard. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the grated Cheddar and black pepper.
7 Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/ Gas Mark 6.
8 Stir the drained chickpeas into the vegetables and continue to simmer for around 15 minutes, until the mixture is quite thick and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add salt and pepper to taste.
9 Spread half the vegetable mixture over the bottom of the dish. Dig out and discard the cinnamon stick – no one needs a mouthful of that! Layer half the sliced potatoes across the top of the mixture just as you would with sheets of lasagne.
10 Carefully spoon over half the cheese mixture, spreading it until it covers the potato evenly.
11 Repeat the layering process, being careful to distribute all the ingredients evenly. The layers shouldn’t be overly thick but there should be enough to give an even bite of each layer in every mouthful. Sprinkle some more Cheddar on top if desired.
12 Put into a preheated oven for 1 hour and cook until the potatoes are soft and the top is browned.