Viper totally deserved some sort of meat laden, hearty dish after crafting this for us over the weekend. We have been unable to enjoy playing records as Misty decided that the record player looked like the most amazing toy in the world, and would not leave it alone. Fair enough too – who doesn’t love the look of something that spins round and round, lights up and makes fun noises?
Anyway, Viper constructed this beast of a record-playing station (plus built the speakers too, I may add) which is too high for Misty’s sticky little mitts to reach. Win and win.
Today’s recipe DOES feature bacon, but fear-not my vegan friends, simply sub tempeh/tofu or TVP for the meat, and either omit the cheese or use a vegan substitute.
The key ingredient to this dish is smoked paprika. This stuff is totally amazing…. I can’t seem to find liquid smoke here in Australia, but it doesn’t matter as this paprika does the job no worries. You really need the SMOKED variety here, it’s such an intense and unique flavour, nothing else will do. I found a huge sack of the stuff at a Middle Eastern grocery store for about $3; awesome.
This is one of my make-meat-less-of-a-focus sneaky dishes. Viper would not be willing to eat 5 cups of steamed kale on any account…. but combine it with a small amount of bacon and some feta, and you’re onto a winner. This makes one BIG lasange… enough for 4 hungry people. It works out to less than one rasher of bacon per serve, but a LOT of green leafy veg. I make this ahead as I tend to go to yoga at night, so it’s cooked and all ready to go when Viper gets home for dinner – lasange is a great dish to prepare before you need it, as it gets better and better as the flavours are allowed time to develop. You can even chuck half in the freezer is you want some easy dinners on hand.
Smoky Bacon and Kale Lasange with Feta and Walnut Crumble Topping:
- 1 + 1/2C finely diced bacon (about 3-4 rashers, trimmed of the fatty fat stuff…. or 250g crumbled tempeh)
- 1 large brown onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2t dried thyme
- 2 cans diced tomato
- 2T tomato paste
- 1/2C water
- 2 + 1/4t smoked paprika
- 1/2t ground cinnamon (trust me)
- 1/4t sea salt
- 1t raw sugar
- 1 large bunch of kale, leaves only, finely shredded (equates to about 5C shredded kale) You can sub spinach or silver beet in here if you don’t have kale.
- Lots of freshly ground black pepper
- Sheets of lasange pasta (fresh OR dry, it doesn’t matter) – this will depend on the dimensions of your dish. (A number of companies are doing gluten-free rice/corn based sheets these days).
- 1/2C crushed walnuts
- 150g crumbled feta cheese
- First up, cook the bacon in a fry pan (no oil necessary) until just crispy. Transfer into a separate bowl and add onion/garlic… reduce heat and just soften – you don’t want colour on them.
- Add sugar, salt, paprika, thyme into the pan and combine well.
- Add tomato paste, tinned tomatoes, bay leaf and bacon back into the mix. Stir well.
- Crank the heat back up…. add water and bring to the boil.
- Reduce to a simmer, and thicken up the sauce (simmer for about 10 minutes)
- Add kale, season with black pepper and take off the heat. REMOVE bay leaf!
- In a lightly greased baking dish, spoon 1/3 mix into the base. Top with a layer of pasta sheets, and top that with another third of the sauce. Another layer of pasta, and finish with the last of the sauce.
- Sprinkle over crumbled feta and walnuts.
- Bake at 170 degrees C for 35 minutes, or until cooked through (stab with a knife) – if the top seems to be getting too brown simply cover with foil and continue cooking.
Any kind of meat from a pig is a real soft spot for me. I love pigs…. as a kid I was obsessed and my room was filled with all things pigg-y. Ham, pork, bacon – they all creep me out and make me cringe far more than any other meat. Ah, the things we do for love… hope you appreciate it, Viper – good thing he’s a hard working handy-man, huh?