So here’s what I’ll miss about Manchester (we’re moving away in a week in case you didn’t know). The Thai takeaway – and generally having access to every kind of diverse food you can think of; Arthur’s lovely pre-school – the kids, parents and teachers; having excellent restaurants and bars a stone’s throw from your house; John Lewis (!); my brother, sister-in-law and my nephew who live on the same road as me; my brother-in-law, his partner and my other two nephews who also live close by; my lovely neighbours either side of us; my ‘mum friends’ – who have been promoted to simply ‘great friends’ – being close by.
And just to redress the balance, here is what I am looking forward to about moving to the countryside: coming out my front door and being surrounded by massive hills all around me; my kids getting Derbyshire accents (and mine returning?!) and saying things like “rayt” and “ayup”; being closer to my grandparents and other family members who I haven’t seen enough of over recent years; visiting country pubs, specifically living very close to an amazing one; being closer to mine and Adam’s parents – for childcare but also so we can hang out more too; going walking (that’s where the childcare comes into play) up the aforementioned massive hills then visiting the aforementioned country pub after in our muddy boots for a well deserved pint; using the amazing local butcher and greengrocer; getting to know the locals and getting involved in village life.
Do forgive me if I go a little quiet over the next few weeks; I will try my hardest not to. In fact you may ending up seeing more blog posts as my mum can help out more – there’s that childcare benefit again!
Now, back to business. I made this absolutely gorgeous veggie lasagne for my best mate when she came over the other evening. The idea of a mushroom and kale lasagne isn’t entirely mine (the first time I did it I used the River Cottage Veg book’s version which is great). However I have made it so many times now that I do my own thing. This time I used pine nuts to give texture and also a little stilton cheese atop to create a salty edge. The amount I used was just enough to provide tang, but if I hadn’t of told the eaters that it was there, I’m not convinced they would have known. My son said it was his favourite tea, and even said he loved the ‘spinach’ with cheese sauce! If you love stilton increase the amount, if you loathe it, simply swap for grated parmesan or a nice mature cheddar. I’ve also used walnuts before which work really well in place of pine nuts.
By the way, this method of making a white sauce could literally change your life. It’s the all in one method, but in a microwave. Try it, you’ll be amazed at the ease. I wasn’t sure which category to put this into, midweek meals or weekend feasting, as it is easy but there are a few separate components which do take a little time. So I’ve put it in both.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
9-12 lasagne sheets
400g field or portabello mushrooms, sliced
200g curly kale, sliced roughly
50g pine nuts
Few sprigs of fresh thyme (about a teaspoon of leaves)
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
75g stilton, crumbled on top
Salt and pepper
Butter, for frying
1l whole milk
75g plain flour
1 teaspoon English mustard (you can’t taste this, it just adds depth – please use more or less to taste)
Salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 190C.
- First, heat a generous knob of butter in a large frying pan. Add your sliced mushrooms, thyme and garlic and fry over a high-ish heat until they go black (not burnt) and all the liquid has come out of them. This will take about 20 minutes. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, cover your kale in cold water and bring to boil. Let it boil for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- To make your béchamel, simply place your butter, milk and flour in a large jug and microwave on high for about 7 minutes, whisking every minute or so. It will suddenly thicken. Once it’s done, season, add mustard and set aside.
- With all your components made, you are ready to assemble.
- Ladle about a third of the béchamel into the drained kale and combine.
- In a large baking / lasagne / pie dish, layer 3/4 sheets of lasagne, then add all your kale. Now sprinkle a third of your pine nuts over. Add 3/4 more sheets of pasta. Then your mushrooms. Ladle a second third of the béchamel over the mushrooms. A further third of nuts. Now 3/4 more lasagne sheets. Finally the last third of the sauce and the rest of the pine nuts. Crumble your stilton over fairly evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Feed the most ardent meat eater and smile when they exclaim their appreciation!