Tag Archives: vegetarian lasagna

Sweet Vegetable Lasagna

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Once you try my version of this classic Italian dish, you’ll never look at lasagna the same way again. Guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser, be sure to make an extra pan and freeze it. Lasagna will keep in the freezer for several weeks – much longer than it lasts on your table.

When using “no-boil” lasagna noodles, it’s crucial to have sufficient liquid levels in your filling ingredients. The tofu filling, spinach, and tomatoes work together to add the necessary liquid element here.

Serves 4

Lasagna Ingredients:
8-10 sheets of no-boil lasagna noodles
2-3 small zucchini, sliced thinly lengthwise
1-2 small yellow summer squash, sliced thinly lengthwise
6 tomatoes, cooked, skinned, and seeded (or 1 c. canned whole tomatoes)
2 c. julienned parsnips
1 c. julienned carrots
3 c. baby spinach, coarsely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 c. coarsely chopped basil, reserved

Béchamel Sauce Ingredients:
6 T. vegan margarine (or unsalted butter)
6 T. unbleached flour
3 c. unsweetened soy milk (or 2% dairy)
Salt, pepper, and grated nutmeg

Tofu Filling Ingredients:
1 block extra firm tofu, drained of its water
3 T. nutritional yeast (or 1/2 c. freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, optional)
1/2 c. chopped parsley
1/2 t. grated nutmeg
1 t. salt

To prepare:
Drizzle olive oil over the bottom of an 8 X 8 baking dish and set aside.

1. Prepare béchamel sauce:
Heat soy or dairy milk until hot but not boiling. (You can add room temperature milk, but heating speeds up the cooking process and in my experience, makes for a smoother sauce.) Melt margarine in a saucepan but do not let it brown. Slowly whisk in flour until you have a smooth roux, continue whisking for a minute or two and begin adding the hot milk. Cook and stir constantly until the sauce thickens and is creamy but not runny. Season to taste and set aside.

2. Prepare tofu filling:
Crumble drained tofu into a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix everything together with a fork. Season the mixture and set aside.

3. Prepare vegetables:
Heat a little olive oil in a skillet over medium low heat. Saute the parsnips and carrots for 5-8 minutes just until crisp tender. Add both the zucchini and squash and toss, just to heat the vegetables through. Remove from heat.

4. Assemble lasagna:
Spread about 1/2 cup of the tomatoes over the bottom of the baking dish. Cover with two sheets of lasagna noodles. Add a layer of vegetables, a few more spoonfuls of tomato, and spread about 1/2 c. of béchamel sauce over this layer.

Add a second layer of pasta, alternating the direction of the layers. Top this pasta layer with the tofu filling. Next do a layer of fresh spinach, add a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and top with yet a third layer of pasta. Add more of the vegetable mixture, a few dollops of the cooked tomato, a little more béchamel, and cover with two more sheets of pasta.

Top the casserole off with a nice cover of béchamel sauce, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and the chopped fresh basil. Finally, spoon a little more of the tomato mixture around the sides of the lasagna.

Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, then remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes or until all the vegetables are easily pierced with a knife. If desired, top with remaining béchamel sauce and serve the lasagna hot.

Note: Béchamel sauce will thicken while it rests but a gentle reheating should loosen it up. If necessary, add very small amounts of milk, water, or stock until you regain the desired consistency.

I really appreciate knowing how to make a béchamel sauce because it can be used in so many other dishes and in this recipe, it makes what’s normally a “heavy” dish so light.

If you dislike the flavor of nutmeg, simply omit it and add an extra few turns from the pepper mill. Remember to always use a light hand and taste your food when you add seasonings.

Better Than Classic Lasagna

Better Than Classic Lasagna

This is a glorious layering of pasta, light and tasty tofu “cheese,” savory “beefy” crumbles, and a creamy béchamel sauce that can be prepared two ways – either with or without dairy ingredients. I know you’ll love the scrumptious flavors and textures of this high-protein classic.

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Lasagna Ingredients:
8-10 sheets of no-boil lasagna noodles
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 c. coarsely chopped basil leaves (reserve 1/4 cup)

Béchamel Sauce Ingredients:
6 T. vegan margarine, or olive oil, or unsalted butter
6 T. unbleached flour
3 c. unsweetened soy milk (or 2% dairy milk)
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated nutmeg

Tofu “Cheese” Layer:
1 block extra firm tofu, drained well
1/2 c. vegan Parmesan-style cheese (or freshly grated Pecorino Romano), optional
1/2 c. chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 c. chopped spinach
1/2 t. grated nutmeg
1 t. salt

“Beefy” crumbles Layer:
1 pkg. “beef”-style crumbles
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1 onion, chopped into 1/4″ dice
3 t. dried oregano
2 T. chopped San Marzano tomatoes or prepared sauce (1/2 cup reserved for filling additional layer)
Salt and pepper to taste

To prepare:
First, drizzle olive oil over the bottom of an 8X8-inch baking dish and set aside.

Next, prepare the béchamel sauce by heating (soy)milk until hot but not boiling. You can do this in a microwave. (Milk at room temperature will work, but heating, in my experience, makes a smoother sauce.)

Melt the fat you’re using in a saucepan, but don’t let it burn or brown. Slowly whisk in the flour until you have a smooth roux. Continue whisking for a minute or two, then begin adding the hot (soy)milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and is creamy but not runny. Season with salt and pepper and the grated nutmeg, cover, and set aside.

Now prepare the tofu filling by crumbling the drained tofu into a bowl, work the tofu with your fingers until smooth – the texture should be similar to ricotta. Add all remaining ingredients, mix together with a fork until blended, season with salt, pepper, a bit more nutmeg, and set aside. (Hint: when preparing the dairy-free version, you can substitute 3 T. of nutritional yeast flakes as a tasty substitute for the vegan cheese or grated Romano.)

Finally, prepare the “beefy” crumbles, by heating olive oil over medium heat in a heavy saute pan. Add garlic and onions and stir and fry until they’re translucent – about five minutes, then add your oregano. Saute for a few minutes until the oregano becomes nicely aromatic. Add the crumbles and continue to stir fry until everything is browned and heated through. Add the two tablespoons of the tomatoes along with another sprinkling of olive oil and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Season and set aside.

To assemble:
Place all layer ingredients within reach. Start with a layer of no-boil lasagna noodles. Spoon “beef” mixture onto noodles, then some of the bechamel. Toss on some of the basil. Add another layer of noodle, then tofu mixture, basil and more bechamel sauce. Continue layering, ending with a layer of the 1/2 cup of reserved tomatoes, then place lasagna noodles on top. Spoon the remaining bechamel sauce over the top, making sure to cover the entire surface of the uncooked top layer of noodle.

Take about 1/4 cup of fresh water and pour around the sides of the casserole to bring the moisture content up a bit, drizzle additional olive oil over the top then cover with foil, and bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking the lasagna for another 15 minutes or so. The lasagna should be bubbling and the noodles cooked through. Remove from oven, sprinkle with reserved chopped basil, additional olive oil if desired, and serve.

This lasagna keeps well and is even more delicious the next day. I usually make two 8X8 inch pans and then freeze one for days when I’m too busy to cook but want a quick, hearty, and nutritious supper.

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