Red Lentil Lasagna
A super-easy and delicious way to include lentils in your child's diet. Lentils are a great source of Iron, Protein, Zinc, Fibre, and B vitamins.
This dish is also suitable for babies when starting solids.
Swapping out minced meat for red lentils in a lasagna can be a yummy alternative and budget-friendly swap.
Lentils are an excellent source of iron, protein, fibre, zinc, and B vitamins.
My kids love this recipe and it is on regular rotation in our house to increase plant food diversity, which is great for gut health.
This recipe is also suitable for babies when starting solids once you have introduced the food allergens separately first (wheat, dairy) just modify the shape or texture to suit your child's age and stage of development, and mode of feeding (see below for tips)
This vegetarian recipe can be easily modified for dietary needs with a few simple swaps and can be made completely vegan (use plant based milk and no cheese) and gluten free as well.
For the base
- 3/4 of a cup of dried red lentils
- 3 x cups of water
- 2 x tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 x brown onion diced
- 2 x cloves of garlic (crushed)
- 2 x celery stalks finely sliced and diced.
- 750 ml of stock or broth (I prefer vegetable or chicken stock/broth for this recipe)
- 1 x 700g of Passata
- 1 x tablespoon of tomato paste
- 1 x medium carrot grated
- 1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves chopped or 1 teaspoon of dried basil
- 1-2 packets of dry lasagna sheets (oven ready)
To make the white sauce
- 50 g of butter
- 4 tablespoons of plain flour
- 2.5 cups of milk of choice (cow's milk, almond, soy all work as a swap)
- pinch of salt
Fresh mozzarella cheese for a cheesy top layer
For the red sauce
- Rinse the dry lentils under cold water, remove any that are discouloured and then add them to a large pot. Cover the lentils with the 3 cups of water and bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and gently simmer until cooked ( 15-20 minutes).
- Use a colander or sieve and drain the lentils so all the water is removed.
- In the same pan add the olive oil, garlic, onions, celery, and carrot and gently fry until the onions begin to soften (not turn brown)
- Then add in the red lentils, tomato paste, passata, basil, and stock
- Simmer over low heat for 15 - 20 minutes and then turn off the heat.
For the white sauce (bechamel)
- While the red sauce is simmering, in a second pan add the butter and let it melt over medium heat.
- Add in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon for 2-3 minutes until it forms a paste and starts to bubble, then gradually add in the milk stirring constantly over medium heat until the milk thickens (around 4-5 minutes).
- Add a pinch of salt (optional)
- Set aside (it may need another stir when you are ready to assemble if you leave it too long and it continues to thicken)
Assembling the lasagna
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
- Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce on the bottom of a baking dish and then add an extra 1/2 cup of water (this helps to keep the bottom layer nice a soft) then layer the dry lasagna sheets on top.
- Spread an even layer of red lentil sauce on the lasagna sheets ( 1-2 ladles) and then the dry lasagna sheets on top, continue to repeat layering lasagna sheets and red lentil sauce.
- For the last layer on top of the dry lasagna sheets pour the white sauce over the top to completely cover (it should be a nice thick layer of bechamel)
- Bake in the oven for at 180 degrees C until the lasagna sheets are cooked through around 40 minutes.
Option: grate or thinly slice some fresh mozzarella to layer on the top of the white sauce before putting it in the oven for a nice cheesy top (the lasagna tastes great even without this step and I often dont add a cheese layer)
Serving to babies:
6 months: puree or mash the lasagna to desired texture and allow baby to hand scoop or pre-load spoon, or traditional spoon feeding, you can also pull the lasaga sheets apart and cut into strips for baby led weaning
9 - 12 months: try cutting the lasagna into small soft cubes (no crunchy edges)