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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Lasagna

Lasagna

About a month ago, I was sitting at work, and was thinking about all the foods I have made. The list is long, and it is because food has always played a major role in my life.  I love to cook, I love to eat, I love to create.  To me, cooking and photography are my two callings in life.  Am I perfect at them?  NO, not even close.  Do they make me happy?  YES, and that is all that really matters.  I love that it also brings much joy to others.  
When I was thinking about all the foods, I also thought about what foods I have not tackled yet.  One of the foods I decided to tackle soon was lasagna.  I pulled out some paper and wrote a quick recipe, and set it aside.  As the weeks progressed, I thought more and more about the recipe, and tweaked it here and there.  Finally, when there was no more tweaking to do, I decided to execute the recipe.  
Now, I had to choose a day I could set some extra time aside to make this, and yesterday was that day.  Anyone who has made lasagna knows, it takes time.  You have extra prep and it takes an hour to cook.  I didn't want to cut corners, lasagna requires love and attention.
So, keep that in mind when you make this recipe.  You cannot just throw it together (although, you can make this ahead, and bake it another day).
Also, I am going on the assumption that most of the people have made lasagna in some form, so I am not going to go into a lot of detail how to layer everything.  If you have any questions along the way, message me, or leave a comment.



This recipe has a few different parts that need to be made before you assemble the final product.  Remember to always read the entire recipe before you start anything so you have a plan.

-Cashew Parmesan
-Cream sauce
-Filling
-1 package of oven ready lasagna.  I used regular semolina type, but there are rice, whole wheat and gluten free, the choice is yours)

-a 9x13 glass casserole pan

I will break down the ingredient lists for each one, then the instructions after.
Lets start with the parmesan.

Ingredients for Parmesan:

1/2 cup raw cashews (you could use blanched almonds too)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt

In a blender or food processor, combine the above and blend until just broken down, you want it to be like sand.  Blend too much and you will have parm nut butter. 
Set aside in a bowl.

Ingredients for the cream sauce:

2 1/2 cups plant milk (make sure it is unsweetened and not flavored)
1/2 cup water
1/4c+2 tablespoons rice flour (or tapioca starch, sweet potato starch)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a medium saucepan, combine all of the above ingredients, whisk together until blended.  Place on the stove over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer, stirring almost the whole time.  As it heats, it will thicken.  Allow to simmer for about a minute, stirring the whole time.  Don't let it hard boil.  Once it has thickened, remove from heat and set aside.  It will thicken more as it cools.

OK, finally lets work on the filling.  Be patient, this seems like a lot, but once it is all done, it comes together very fast.

Ingredients for filling:



 1 medium red onion, peeled and chopped small
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated 
10 sun dried tomatoes (soaked in hot water for about 20 minutes to dehydrate)
and chopped small
2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes (or boxed, or fresh, however you usually use them)
2 cups chopped mushrooms (you can omit this if you don't like mushrooms, just increase the zucchini and cauliflower by 1/2 cup each)
2 medium zucchini, cut into small dice (see illustration)
2 cups cooked cauliflower, chopped small
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 heaping teaspoons dried basil
2 heaping teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder

(needed for assembly will also be 2 cups fresh baby spinach, and 1/4 cup nutritional yeast.  These do not go into the above mix though)

In a very large saute pan, over medium heat, combine the onion, garlic and carrots.  



Saute for about 5 minutes, until the carrots start to wilt.
After 5 minutes, add all the rest of the ingredients (except the spinach and nutritional yeast) and the spices.  Mix together well.



 You want to cook for 10-15 minutes, until most of the liquid has cooked off.  You want a moist, but not wet mixture.
When it is all cooked, remove from heat, and place in a large bowl.  Allow to cool down.  Preheat the oven to 375°, while it does, get the rest of your ingredients together in one place.



Now, all that hard work is almost done.  You want to take a few spoons of the filling and the cream sauce and put on the bottom of your casserole pan.  Mix together with a spoon and spread out a thin layer all over the bottom.  Now place your first layer of noodles down.  My pan allowed for three across and one across the top, so 4 sheets total per layer.  
Spoon down a nice layer of the cream sauce, then a nice layer (don't be skimpy, there is a lot of filling).  Then a sprinkle of the parm.
Now add another layer of noodles and repeat.  The last layer before the final noodles, place the sauce, filling, parm and a layer of spinach.  Sprinkle the spinach with nutritional yeast.  Put the final layer of noodles on top of them. For this layer, start with the remaining filling, then the rest of the sauce.  Then a thick layer of the parm and the nutritional yeast.  I had some cherry tomatoes left over, so I cut them in half and put them on top too, but not required.
Then, look at your creation and be happy!



The battle is almost over!!
Now, put a layer of parchment paper over the whole pan and a sheet of aluminum foil to seal it all in.
Place on a cookie sheet, and into the oven.  Set your timer for 1 hour, and close it up.  DO NOT PEEK!  Let it go and assess the war torn kitchen you just created.  That should keep you busy for a while.
After 1 hour, remove the covering, and set it under the broiler until the desired brownness is achieved.  Mine took about 8 minutes.  WATCH IT CLOSE, DO NOT WALK AWAY.
Now, as with any lasagna, you need to remove from the oven and let it sit for at least 10-15 minutes.




It is hard not to dive right in, but resist the temptation.  All the juices need to find a comfy spot, and if you cut it too soon, you will have lasagna soup.
I know this is a bigger recipe than I normally post.  It will require you to spend some time in the kitchen.  BUT I PROMISE, IT WILL BE WORTH IT.  
I have lots of leftovers, I am the only one eating it, so this will be a good make ahead recipe.
I also encourage everyone to take my recipes as a base and make it your own. With this one, please try it just as it is, and then the next time you make it, make it your own.  I am very happy with the results and think you will like it just as it is.  
As always, please keep me informed if you try it and if you liked it.
Happy plant-based cooking!





5 comments:

  1. Very nice. We make one similar but will download yours to try next. Good work. Can almost taste it

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  2. Doesn't seem too difficult, and it looks so yummy, I will try it soon! Truly amazing photos! Thank you!

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  3. are your noodles pre-cooked?

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  4. I just made this but haven't cooked it yet. Didn't see a baking temperature - 350? Also would like to know if noodles precooked as I didn't precook mine, oh, my. I got a little confused with the laying instructions as the picture looks like 4 layers but instructions seem to be for 5 layers. Of course, I know number of layers will depend a bit on pan size.

    ReplyDelete
  5. just made this but haven't cooked it yet. Didn't see a baking temperature - 350? Also would like to know if noodles precooked as I didn't precook mine, oh, my. I got a little confused with the laying instructions as the picture looks like 4 layers but instructions seem to be for 5 layers. Of course, I know number of layers will depend a bit on pan size.

    ReplyDelete