Fresh and Light Open Vegetable Lasagne – naturally gluten-free

Fresh and Light Open Vegetable Lasagne – naturally gluten-free

I am willing to bet that you haven’t had a lasagne like this. Open lasagne, yes, perhaps. One made with lacy-edged chickpea pancakes (farinata/socca), cut into strips? Probably not.

This unusual take on an Italian classic was inspired by gazing lustfully and hungrily at an image of Donna Hay’s courgette and ricotta summer lasagne, as published in a recent Times Saturday supplement magazine. Although I have yet to make any of her recipes I do enjoy riffling through the soothingly photographed, stylish images by Australia’s food-styling doyenne  – whether in her eponymous magazine, or in The Times.

Donna’s recipe called for bought lasagne, bought pesto, and was somewhat of an assembly-job – which is often attractive on a weekday. Who doesn’t need and deserve a little convenience now and again?

I had just that day been experimenting with socca recipes for a client and, in a lightbulb moment, I just thought, this will work. Not quite running to the kitchen, I did jot down notes and let it stew in my head overnight. In the morning I set about gathering the vegetables from the garden and mixing my batter. Before I knew it what you see on this page took shape.

This fresh and light open lasagne is very, very easy to make up, and tastes of sunny holidays and warm breezes. It also looks so much like an invitingly messy bed that I really couldn’t help but almost polish off what is meant for two people. But don’t eat the whole thing yourself. You will be too full to move.

It’s a deceptive little dish, what with the light, thin-cut vegetables and the whisper of pesto and cheese. Unlike traditional wheat-based pancakes, or even other grains for that matter, pancakes made with chickpea flour are replete with satisfying fibre and protein (iron too). I ate my Jackson Pollock plate of colour at around 3 pm and then didn’t eat again until the next day.

Well, maybe I had a small snack.😉

You may think you have never had anything with chickpea flour before, but if you eat Indian food you most probably will have: the puffy golden pakoras that you can’t resist ordering are made using gram/chickpea flour. Falafels are also often made with chickpea flour, as well as chickpeas themselves.

Chickpea flour – also called besan, garbanzo, gram and farina di ceci – can be purchased at many larger supermarkets, either in the global foods section or in the aisle catering for food intolerances; the latter because it is a naturally gluten-free flour. Any health food store or Asian market worth their salt will also have it. I keep a small bag on hand for pancake cravings. Which, after scoffing them in this fashion, I have more often than I care to admit. Andrew likes them too. I hope you will as well.

Although not quite as quick as boiling up sheets of lasagne and mixing with veggies, I do think this dish is easily within the realms of weekday food if you do a little prep first. You can make up the pancakes ahead and just flash heat in a pan. Or, better really, make up the batter the night before and fry up your pancakes fresh just before eating. Be sure to have the fresh toppings at the ready, and the pesto slaked with lemon and water, and you will be good to go for a most unusual take on a favourite dish. Enjoy!

Btw, the winners of the four Jamie Oliver Everyday Super Food cookbooks are: Amy R from Edinburgh, Laura H in Glasgow, Katie O in Cleveland Ohio, and Ruth H in Lancaster. Copies are being sent out today by the lovely people at Penguin Random House. Katie, yours might take a bit longer to reach you but I assure you the wait will be worth it. Thank you everyone who entered.

Fresh and Light Open Vegetable Lasagne {naturally gluten-free}Servings: 2

Difficulty: easy

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This is a lot easier than first appears. Making the chickpea pancakes (farinata or socca, depending on the country one references) is easy and can be done ahead, flash heated before assembling. The veggie and herb element is also a doddle, just a matter of chopping and deciding how much you want to use. And the pesto, well, homemade or bought – it’s your call.

I hope you enjoy this filling and healthy light supper or lunch for two.

Oh, before you scroll on down, check out eattheseasons.co.uk to see what other veg to use this month, and any month that you fancy making this or any other food to glow dish. Most of my recipes are quite flexible, and this little under-stated site is great for knowing how to mix and match with the seasons. There is also a US version here. xx

The farinata (chickpea pancakes)

130g gram (1 cup) /chickpea flour

260ml (2 cups) room temperature water

Ingredients

  • 260ml (2 cups) room temperature water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp best-quality pesto
  • 1 good handful fresh or defrosted petit pois or lightly cooked and cooled edamame or broad beans (keep them small for best taste and tenderness)
  • 1 red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 45g (2 ½ tbsp) goats curd cheese or crumbly, soft goats cheese – optional
Read the whole recipe on food to glow