Today we’re jazzing over to my dad’s place to have some lunch with him and my in-laws. I offered to make something for myself so that my dad & co could be on their own mission food-wise. I’vebeen craving something between a bobotie and a lasagna for a while now, so that’s what popped out of the oven, and let me just say it is deeelicious! I’m not always a fan of non-whole foods such as the packet or frozen soy products, but sometimes it just gets the job done in an oh-so-satisfying way. I tried out the chakalaka flavour of the Imana Soy Mince brand and I suspect we’re going to be knee-deep in soy mince for the next few months, but at this point, if it all tastes like this “lasagna”, then I am honestly beyond caring. :p
This lasagna/casserole is uber tasty, uber easy, and happens to be pink on top, which is just cool. I happened to have some plum-onion preserve on hand that I made the other day as a filling to an alternate streusel cake (and it was AWESOME), but if you don’t have such a thing handy substitute it for 1/4 cup of homemade jam/chutney – maybe even some barbecue sauce (actually, nevermind “maybe”, YES! If you have some, be smart about life and do it!).
Serves 4 with side salads/greens, or 2 with an empty fridge
Prep time: 1/2 hour total
Cook time: approx 20-25 minutes
Required: 8″x8″ pan, baking tray
- 1/4 cup onions, chopped
- 1 tsp chopped ginger
- 1 medium-large eggplant, sliced thinly
- 100g soy mince
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, sliced into thin coins
- coriander & chives, chopped finely
- 1 TBSP curry powder
- 2 TBSP nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup plum-onion preserve (see below)
- 2 cups chopped spinach
- spices (I used tumeric, paprika + black pepper)
- 1/4 cup soy milk
- 1 cup pumpkin, chopped into blocks
- 1 cup cabbage, cut roughly
- 1/2 cup beetroot, chopped into small chunks
- 2 TBSP hummus
- 1 TBSP lite soy sauce
- 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
- spices (I used white pepper, smoked paprika and thyme)
- Preheat your oven to 180C.
- Slice your eggplant thinly (1/2cm or so ) and prepare a baking tray in which to bake them.
- Once your oven is ready pop them in and bake them for 10 minutes a side, then take it out and set aside.
- While you wait for the oven to heat you can start with the actual content of your lasagna.
- Steam your pumpkin, cabbage and beetroot til soft.
- In a medium pot, water/tea sauté your onion & ginger til soft. Add your carrots and tomatoes and cook for another 4 or so minutes.
- Add the soy mince & water (according to packet instructions – I added 2 cups of water) and stir, bringing to the boil.
- Once it’s boiled (stir constantly to prevent sticking), bring down to a simmer and add the coriander & chives, nutritional yeast, curry powder, and plum-onion preserve. Cook for another 5 minutes or so.
- While that’s simmering away blend your topping mixture til smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- In your 8″x8″ pan pour your soy mixture in and level it out with a spoon.
- Layer half your baked eggplant slices so they cover most of the dish, then layer your spinach evenly on top, pressing down a little.
- Blob 3/4 of your topping on top of your spinach and then carefully and evenly spread it over the spinach til it’s pretty much covered.
- Layer the rest of your eggplant slices (I ran out of slices so mine didn’t cover 100% of the dish, but I wasn’t fussed) and then spread the last 1/4 of the topping on top.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes.
- Take a spoon and eat the “crust” along the edges immediately. Claim innocence when questioned.
Seriously, when it was done there was just this heavenly soy ooze coming out the sides of the topping and I just had to munch it all up.
- 1.5 medium white onions, chopped in quarters and then processed
- 11 small black plums, cored and processed (with skins on)
- 3 TBSP sultanas
- 1/3 cup vegetable broth
- 1 TBSP mustard seeds
- 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
- cinnamon (liberally splashed)
- ginger (be free! shake like a bee)
- dry mint (be generous)
- paprika (equally magnanimous)
- white pepper (be a bit more stingy – taste to see)
- cayenne pepper (equally reserved – test it out)
- Prepare your onions and plums according to the above instructions SEPARATELY. That is, process your onions, set aside, and then process your plums. Be sure not to process each to the point of mush, but rather have discernible shape and form. it just makes it easier to cook down.
- In a medium-large pot (preferably non-stick) over medium heat, fry your ginger, mint, and mustard seeds for a few minutes, splashing the vegetable broth to keep it from sticking, one TBSP of broth at a time.
- Add the onion, stirring to combine. Let the onions simmer in the leftover broth for approximately 5 minutes.
- After that add the processed plums and stir. Let them cook for 3 or so minutes, then add the wine and balsamic vinegar. Cook for another 30 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- When stirring again at 15 minutes to end-time, add the rest of the spices, even adding more mint if you feel necessary (I did, but I’m a sucker for mint! :D).
- Add the 3 TBSP sultanas and stir in.
- Once it’s done, take off the stove and set aside.
Verdict? I gave Man-thing the spatula/lifter to eat clean and he immediately went “MMM! What’s this? It’s delicious. When did you make this? Is it dinner? Can I have some?” – pretty much all in one breath. He even stood up from the computer to come investigate and look at the dish! He’s not a fan of eggplant which is why I roasted the thin slices before baking it in the dish and I think that made the difference. He’s usually a sweet monster but he was so chuffed by how “savoury” it tasted, whatever that means. So yes, this is a super easy but amazing dish.
I love it especially since it was born out of the idea of the bobotie, but with twenty times the fun. It reminds me of how simple and effective Boere/”farmer” food is here in South Africa – and how extremely amazed I always am at the ease with which my family members navigate the plate in such a warm, rich and deeply satisfying way. Making dishes like this, even if it’s the glammed-up, vamped-up version of the inspiration, and having them come out pretty darn good is something that brings great joy. I may not be able to make dishes quite as they are supposed to be, but I wouldn’t feel shy about presenting this to my esteemed aunt or even all-knowing grandmother for testing. If I can make food that they will eat and enjoy then I’ll know I’ve done something right!
For now, far from those two, Man-thing’s praise and very obvious pleasure is enough to fill me with glee and contentment. If I can make him happy, food-wise, I guess that’s the best person to please! 🙂 With that in mind, I made him a surprise sweet snack!
Quick and easy carob chocolate (1/2 coconut oil, 1/2 carob powder) filled with cashew cream, apple rings, and orbited with cranberries! I splashed some mint, cinnamon and ginger on top, which is the fluff you may have spied. I have an idea concerning apple rings and freezer treats, but that’s for another day! 😉