So first things first, you have to peel the vegetables. It doesn’t really matter which vegetables you use, as long as you like them. I usually use aubergine, mushrooms, carrot, celery and red peppers. Only red peppers, because I’m convinced red is the best colour and tastes better. I know people hate celery, but I seriously can’t get enough of it.
Next, it’s time to chop. This is usually the most time-consuming part, especially with the mushrooms and aubergine. I use a lot of mushrooms and aubergine, so my arms are sore by the time I’m done. The peppers are the easiest for me to slice. I like to pretend that I’m on MasterChef or some other cooking show. It’s a wonder I haven’t sliced all my fingers off with my cocky pepper slicing.
Once that’s done, it’s time to cook. I add all my vegetables into a big pot with a table spoon of extra virgin olive oil. I don’t know what extra virgin means or how oil can be an extra virgin but nonetheless I use it. As for seasoning, it all depends on my mood. Sometimes when I cook this dish I add mixed Italian seasoning with black peppers and sea salt. Other times I’m less pretentious and use normal table salts and add some paprika, thyme and fresh basil (oh wait, still pretentious). Which is why every time I cook this dish I’m always pleasantly surprise at the new flavour. As you’ve noticed by now, I don’t measure my ingredients, I just cook. If it’s my first time making a dish I usually measure and stick to the recipe, but for a dish I make all the time, I just follow my instincts and my mood.
I let the vegetables cook for about 20 minutes, and then add the tomato sauce. Once upon a time I use to make my own tomato sauce. This was when I was at university and I would use any excuse to procrastinate. Now that I’m working, I’m tired all the time and too lazy to make my own sauce, so I buy it. After you add the sauce, let it all cook for another 8-10 minutes. Then let it cool, I usually don’t because I don’t have the time. I get my oven dish, pasta sheets, cheese and white sauce (also store bought) and begin my layering. I usually follow the layer technique that is shown on my pasta sheet’s box, which is cooked veg sauce, then pasta sheets, then sauce, then sheets, then sauce, then sheet, then white sauce and then cheese.
And then off it goes, into the oven for 40 minutes. I usually come back to the kitchen every 10 minutes and stare longingly through the glass oven door wishing the 40 minutes were over. Unfortunately, this does not speed up the process and instead makes you even more hungry, so I suggest skipping it.
After a gruesome 40 minutes, it’s time to take you dish out of the oven and enjoy your meal.