Beans feel substantial and meaty, with their unique combination of belly-bombing protein and complex carbs. It’s a dish that can be assembled the day before cooking, making it particularly handy if you want to indulge in an aperitif with guests without busting your adrenal glands.
I find a traditional 20x20cm brownie tin works a treat. Double the recipe if you have two 20x20cm brownie tins, and cook side by side. That way, you can slice and freeze into portions, high-fiving your genius and gut health all month long.
Ricotta & Smoky Black Bean Lasagne
For the filling:
For the cheese sauce:
1 Sweat the diced onion (or veg, for onion allergists) over a low heat in a splash of olive oil for 20 minutes. Season generously.
2 Grate in your cloves of garlic and stir for 60 seconds. You can add the smoked paprika, oregano and chilli at the same time too. We love ours really spicy.
3 Add the tomato pasta sauce or passata, and your drained beans. Let it putter over a low heat for 5-10 minutes while you get going on your cheesy sauce.
4 To make the cheese sauce, melt your preferred form of fat in a small pan over a medium flame. Once liquid, beat in your flour, until smooth and doughy.
5 Pour a little milk over this doughy ball, whisking to incorporate all the milk until velvety. It thickens super fast. I use a balloon beater for this step (FYI a balloon beater is not what you think it is. It’s basically a wire whisk whose identity has been misused somewhere along the way!). Repeat until all the milk is used up. Add a pinch of turmeric for a gorgeous glow, season well, and beat through your grated cheddar. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon.
6 To assemble your lasagne, think of it in 3 layers — 2 bean layers, and 1 ricotta. Start by sitting your brownie tin onto a large roasting tray to catch any run-away juice while cooking. Now pour a thin layer of cheese sauce on the bottom of your brownie tin. Layer with 2 full lasagne sheets. You’ll need to break a third lasagne sheet to fit into the sides. Spoon over a generous layer of black bean filling. Now cover with more lasagne sheets. Top with cheese sauce. Another layer of black bean filling. Followed by lasagne sheets once again. Then cheese sauce. Spoon over your ricotta. Add a final layer of lasagne sheets, breaking to fit. Finish with cheese sauce. And a fist bump.
7 Cook in a pre-heated oven for 40 minutes at 180C, 160 fan-assisted. If it colours too quickly, you can cover with tinfoil halfway through cooking.
8 Remove from the oven once cooked and let it settle for 20 minutes before serving. Or allow to cool, before slicing into 6 generous portions and folding into baking parchment for the freezer.