My 30 euro a week budget is apparently enough to last me a week and a half at least. Which is great.
I've gotten rather used to doing shopping with B, spending 30 euros each (60 euros in total) and then having to scrape the bottom of the barrel at the end of the week because the food is almost finished... (he eats considerably more than me, which is fine of course, but I was surprised to see that how much less than him I actually eat: I'd barely made my way through half of what I'd bought)
The question was: what to do with all of the fresh veges that I won't be able to eat all by myself? And I still have a whole container full of yummy mango chicken curry in the fridge from the other day that mustn't go to waste!
I would usually make some kind of vegetable lasagne... That's a great way to use a lot of vegetables and make a delicious, filling meal that will last a few days in the fridge.
However, it soon became apparent that the cupboards were bare of lasagne.
Wanting to stick to my budget and not go out and buy extra ingredients that a recipe or dish may call for, I decided to get creative.
The idea of replacing the lasagne with pancakes popped into my head as I remembered something a colleague had mentioned about his mum's famous savoury "Pancake Cake"...
And suddenly I was bursting with ideas. Not only of how I could spice up the pancake mix, but of all the different layers I could make with what I had in the fridge!
Here were the layers I dreamed up:
-Mushrooms sauteed in a large knob of melted butter with a branch of fresh thyme and seasoned with salt and pepper. (Mushrooms are amazing... and even more so when sauteed with LOTS of butter.... mmmm)
- Thick slices of courgettes, grilled in a very hot frying pan with olive oil
- Slices of boiled beets
- A thick, sweet carrot-tomato sauce, with onions and garlic
- A few crumbled pieces of feta and mozzarella dotted around the place
Topped off with a few slices of mozzarella to give the while dish that crispy, cheesy, top layer.
And the pancakes: basic pancake mix with a bit of salt, a few italian herbs, a generous handful of spinach leaves, and a handful of feta cheese.
It was DELICIOUS.
Unfortunately, my camera ran out of batteries just as it came out of the oven, so you''ll just have to imagine how colourful and tasty it looked with all of the different layers.
A perfect autumn meal.
Be warned though: It was very time consuming and labour intensive...
Veggie Lasagne With Spinach-Feta Pancakes
For the pancakes:
1 cup of flour
1/2 cup of yoghurt
1/2 cup of milk (you can add more if you find the mix is too thick)
A big handful of spinach
100g of feta
Salt and pepper to taste
Put all of the ingredients in a bowl and blend with a stick blender until the mix has a smooth consistency, not too runny but not too thick either.
For making the pancakes it's handy to use a frying pan that is roughly the same size as the oven dish you want to use later on (so that the pancakes aren't too small). Alternatively, you could use several smaller pancakes to create the "lasagne" layer... It all depends on what kind of "equipment" you have at home!
Make the pancakes and set them aside for the moment.
For the beetroot layer:
Boil 2 beetroots for about 40 minutes, until they are cooked through.
Drain and let them cool down.
Once they've cooled down, you should be able to rub the skins off easily with your hands.
Cut them into slices and set aside for later.
For the carrot sauce layer:
2 medium carrots (finely grated - this is a great arm workout!)
2 medium tomatoes (diced)
1 onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 small can of tomato paste (30g)
Saute the onions and garlic in a large frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil until soft and glossy. Add the tomatoes. When the tomatoes are soft and mushy, add the carrots and the tomato paste and a wee bit of water (half a glass or so) and simmer with the lid on, stirring occasionally.
And don't forget to add a bit of salt! (Not too much)
When the mix looks like this (the carrots should be very soft) take it off the heat and set it aside till later.
For the mushroom layer:
A punnet of mushrooms (250g roughly) - sliced
A large knob of butter
A sprig of fresh thyme
One thing is for sure: You can't have too much butter here. Mushrooms fried in butter are sinfully delectable! So don't go easy on the butter.
Melt the butter in a pan, and when golden and bubbling, add the mushrooms, thyme and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Cook until the mushrooms are soft and moist. Set aside for later.
For the courgette layer:
The final layer!! And it's an easy one.
Cut one courgette lengthwise into thick slabs.
Heat some olive oil in a frying pan, and make sure it's good and hot.
Add the courgette slices (beware, they will sizzle quite viciously) and turn them once that side is dark and slightly charred in some spots.
When they are cooked on both sides, set them on a plate and you're ready to start layering!
So, before we get started on making the layers, preheat the oven to 175 degrees celsius.
Grease a medium sized oven proof dish.
And now you can start layering the various vegetables with the pancakes, just as you would with a lasagne.
There is enough carrot sauce for two layers, and I made sure to top the whole thing off with a layer of the carrot sauce which I then sprinkled with mozzarella so you still get the crunchy cheesy topping which is always so yummy on a lasagne.
Also, I dotted a bit of crumbled feta throughout the whole thing.
When that's ready, pop it into the oven for 45-50 minutes or until the top is melted and a deep golden brown.
Side note on the spinach pancakes: They taste so good by themselves, they would be amazing as some kind of wrap or tortilla alternative....