Sunday, 13 September 2009

Tomatoes are the elixir of summer

writes Anna Thomas of The Epicurean.
I don’t enjoy tomatoes as much as D does. Sometimes I find them too sweet, sometimes acidic. So as you may have noticed over the past few weeks I have been trying to find ways of using them. Ideally I would have made dozens of bottles of homemade tomato sauce, but you see I am running out of space to store these and even jars, even the freezer is jam packed.

As you may remember, early this week D made some more tomato soup. I asked him to keep it simple and vegan, so we could add other flavourings to it, such as mint, parsley and coriander. So it did not feel like we were eating the same lunch - day in, day out.
When we came back from Fife yesterday we had this Tomato lasagne which I had made on Friday. We had the lasagne accompanied with some steamed green beans, and guess what we are having today, yes the same dish, well you didn't think I was going to cook after putting in a whole day at the allotment.
Fresh Tomato lasagne
Serves 4 - 6
For the Tomato Sauce
125ml olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
800g – 1 kilo of fresh tomatoes, can be mixed
About a dozen basil leaves, shredded
For the Bechamel sauce
120g butter
80g plain flour
1 litre milk
Freshly grated nutmeg
About 300 – 350g fresh lasagne sheets
100g grated vegetarian parmesan cheese
For the tomato sauce:
heat the oil and garlic in a large pan. When garlic becomes translucent, add the tomatoes and a good pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and cook uncovered for about 25 minutes or until it becomes a thick sauce. Stir in the basil and leave to cool.
To make the béchamel sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, then begin adding the milk. It will be absorbed immediately so work quickly whisking with one hand while pouring in the milk with the other. When the sauce seems to be smooth and not too stiff add seasoning and grating of nutmeg and continue cooking, mixing all the time. It should be a very thick and smooth sauce.
Assembling the lasagne
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease a 8 x 12 inch baking dish. Drizzle some bechamel sauce over the bottom of the dish to cover it thinly. Place two or three depending on the size of your lasagne sheets, so that they are slighly overlapping on top. Dollop a thin layer of tomato sauce over that, spreading it with the back of the ladle. Add about two ladlefuls of the bechamel. Add another layer of lasagne sheets, then tomato and bechamel as before, and then repeat the layers one more time. You should have about 3 tablespoons of tomato sauce and a good amount of bechamel left. Make a final layer of lasagne sheets and cover with all the remaining bechamel. Dollop the tomato sauce here and there (as I've done in the photo). Bake for about 30 minutes, or until it is bubbling and golden on top.


  1. I just LOVE tomatoes I wish it was possible to have them year round. Our growbag ones are starting to ripen at last but I think it'll be green tomato chutney making again this year. Please send some of your glut down here ;)
    PS is that an emma bridgewater dish I spy there

  2. Hello mangocheeks...wanted to be sure I understood the lasagne recipe...are "fresh lasagne sheets" pre-boiled lasagne sheets? Is there any particular way to layer the tomato sauce, the bechamel sauce and the lasagne sheets? I want to try this as it sounds excellent with the steamed green beans.

  3. I find the same with tomatos actually, sometimes they are just too sweet and other times i think they have a powdery taste which i dont like. And they have such a different flavour when they are warmed or cooked.


  4. Looks yummy. Will save the tomato sauce recipe, it so simple.

  5. I would have to agree with Anna Thomas on that, Mango. Garden tomatoes are truly a gift from the gardening goddess, although she did not look favorably upon some of us here in the Hudson Valley this year.

  6. Hello Linda,
    Hope your well.
    It hasn't really been a good season for tomatoes up here either, I think I have been fortunate as a number of the plotholders here are only starting to see their tomatoes ripen, but as you know the season is ending, so its green tomato chutney for some of them too. If I could send you some of my fresh toms Linda, I certainly would. We have really been giving them away this year. Something D never thought he would do with his precious tomatoes.

    PS I dont think it is an emma bridgewater dish, I bought it at a bargain price from TJ Hughes, so its unlikely.

    Hi Annie,
    It okay, I understand it's never easy understanding other peoples recipes, but let me tell you I am finding it quite difficult writing recipes, esp when it involved overlapping, this and that etc.

    You are right, I used "fresh egg lasagne sheets" which cooked in the lasagne. In size they were 6 inch by 8 inch, I needed two per layer. I used a soup ladle spoon to pour the sauce over the lasagne sheets. I spooned one ladlespoon of the tomato sauce, and two ladlespoons of the bechamel sauce.

    On reheating the dish, the lasagne had softened a lot more, but the ends had crisped.

    I hope that is clear, if not please do come back and let me know.

    Glad to note I am not the only one who snugs at tomatoes, they certainly do vary in taste and size. Homegrown are a total revelation to supermarket ones.

    I agree the sauce is so simple. I have made it again, this time with the golden sunrise tomatoes. I am not too sure whether to use it for lasagne or for a pasta bake, let see what I do with it later in the week.

    Hello Barbara,
    Yes I have been very fortunate this year, especially as many people in the U.k have suffered with blight, as well as your good self.
    But I feel even better knowing that I was able to share some of them and not let them go to waste.

  7. Oh Annie,
    I just realised I had not completed typing in the full tomato lasagne recipe, so forgive me. I have managed to tag it onto the original recipe blog entry. I hope it makes sense. If not, please do let me know.

  8. Hi mangocheeks, I'll make a new copy of the tomato lasagne recipe...want to try it this week as I have some fresh tomatoes that need to be used. Haven't finished the quilt yet, our dear 18 year old feline departed from us today, have been giving time to her the past few days. When quilt put together I'll get a photo put on my blog. Is that a thistle at the top of your "post" today....whatever it is the purple bloom is beautiful...for some reason I'm drawn to thistle and the color purple....

  9. Annie,

    I hope you enjoy the recipe when you make it.

    I'm really sorry to read about you feline friend, but you know she had a good life with you and your family.

    I look forward to seeing the quilt on your blog, so rest assured I will be back to visit.

    In response to your final question, yes it is a form of thistle. I have a few growing at the entrance of my plot. It is actually my cardoon plant, related to the edible artichoke. In Scotland, they call this flower 'partick thistle', not sure why, but there is a football team in Glasgow that goes by that name.

  10. Great lasagna recipe! I love Anna Thomas!

  11. It's a nice recipe, you could also add goats cheese to it or spinach between the layers, but we kept it simple, as we wanted to taste the tom toms.


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