Fennel and Spinach Lasagne with Two Cheeses

The sauce for this lasagne is made from yoghurt, giving the dish a lighter texture. It has a wonderful combination of flavours. Use either fresh lasagne sheets or the type that needs no pre-cooking.

Ingredients

  • 225 g/8 oz lasagne sheets
  • 450 g/1 lb fresh spinach
  • 6 medium bulbs fennel
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons green peppercorns in brine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 225 g/8 oz small, round white goat’s cheese with rind
  • 1 rounded tablespoon cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 150 ml/¼ pint Greek-style yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt
  • black pepper

Method

Put the lasagne sheets (unless you are using the fresh kind) into a sink of hot water into which you have sprinkled a little cooking oil and leave them to soak — they should not be left for longer than 20 minutes or they will become too soft.

Wash the spinach, then boil it in salted water until limp. Drain thoroughly, pressing out excess liquid, and chop up small.

Cut the tough stalks and base off the fennel, and any marked outer parts, reserving the green leaves. Chop the fennel up into fairly small pieces and boil in salted water for a few minutes until softened. Drain well. Peel and finely chop the garlic and roughly crush the green peppercorns in a pestle and mortar.

Heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a large, deep frying pan or a wide, heatproof casserole dish, add the garlic and fennel seeds and stir around for a minute. Add the fennel, stir around for another 3-4 minutes and then remove from the heat. Stir in the crushed peppercorns and drained chopped spinach and season with salt and a little black pepper.

Drain the soaked lasagne sheets, placing them in a single layer on absorbent kitchen paper. Butter a rectangular ovenproof dish measuring roughly 27.5 x 20 cm/11 x 8 in. Slice the goat’s cheese across thinly without cutting off the rind.

Arrange a layer of lasagne sheets in the dish, then spoon one third of the fennel and spinach mixture over the lasagne. Arrange one third of the goat’s cheese slices on top. Lay on more lasagne and continue as before, ending with a layer of lasagne sheets.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Put the cornflour into a saucepan, add the milk and stir until smooth. Then stir in the yoghurt. Put on to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly in one direction only. Allow to bubble, still stirring, for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Then spoon the stabilized yoghurt evenly over the lasagne and sprinkle with the grated Parmesan.

Cook the dish in the centre of the oven for about 35 minutes, until speckled brown on top. Garnish the edges with chopped fennel leaves before serving.

,