I made lasagna! I’m very excited about that, as you can tell.. I feel like I’m known for fast cooking, and although not terribly complicated, lasagna definitely takes some prep work. I try to cook most of my lunches and dinners at home, and between teaching classes in the am and pm on most days of the week, I don’t have too much time to make that happen. Which has bared great results, now I can cook a lunch in 20 minutes flat! I also cook for two on most days (well, three with Zen, if we’re being honest), and elaborate preparations haven’t been on my radar in quite some time.
As I was browsing the isles of my local supermarket the other day, I ran into gluten free lasagna strips, and immediately bought them! I feel like we deserved a mini feast. I specifically like, what most Americans call Italian food, though as a Mediteranean country, I feel like pastas and pizzas are just as much Croatian as they are Italian. I sure grew up eating tons of it, and pasta was probably the first thing I learned how to cook (not much magic in that, I agree).
Now, there are so many ways one can go about making lasagna. I personally prefer a combination of marinara and white sauce myself. Back in the day, when I was vegetarian, I would make super cheese lasagna with tons of white alfredo sauce, and it was basically death in a tray. Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious, but very heavy.
I really hoped to remove the heaviness out of this incredible dish. Didn’t want to feel like I gained two pounds after eating it. I feel like the gluten free pasta definitely helped lighten the recipe up, however vegetable pasta strips would have been best! Zucchini, sweet potato or squash are my favorite. Speaking of which, a nice zucchini raw lasagna is amazing! When I go to vegan and raw food restaurants, and they offer raw lasagna on the menu, I religiously give it a try. My favorites are Plant pure foods in Miami and Laughing seed in Asheville.
The only really creative aspect of this recipe was making my own cheese. I made two types, one creamy cheese sauce, to replace alfredo, and vegan parmesan cheese, to use as a crumble on top. Both are truly easy to make, and are made using similar ingredients which can be mixed and matched to create the right flavor or consistency for various recipes.
I used raw nuts from Now foods, which I shop at Lucky Vitamin. As their ambassador, I get to try out new foods and love all the variety of superfoods, nuts, raw and vegan items I get get on their store. They also sell natural beauty products, cleaning supplies, and supplements (out of which I love my B complex), but I usually end up getting tons of foodie goodies, because, let’s face it, that’s where my heart is.
- 1 package gluten free lasagna pasta strips
- 3/4 of 500g tomato sauce package
- 1 tomato
- 1 bell pepper
- 5 mini zucchini or 1 medium one
- 1 cup soy texturized protein
- 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
- pinch of Pink Himalayan salt
- pinch of white pepper
- pinch of turmeric
- 1 cup almonds
- 3/4 cup cashews
- 1/2 cup Brazil nuts
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp yellow mild miso
- 1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
- 1 tbsp Pink Himalayan salt
- 2 cups water (approximately)
1. Cook lasagna pasta according to package instructions (mine took about 10 minutes of boiling in salt water). Drain and let cool so you can handle it.
2. In the meantime, chop your veggies. On medium heat, roast tomato and bell pepper in EVOO, and after five minutes add zucchini. Roast for another two, then add spices and pour tomato sauce in. Cook for about a minute, and set aside.
3. Cook your soy textured protein in salt water according to package instructions. It usually takes just a minute or two of soaking in boiling water for me. Drain the access water, and set aside.
4. Place all the nuts for cheese in a blender or food processor, and pulse until a crumble is formed. It’s up to you how smooth you want your mixture to be, you can chose to leave a few larger pieces if you want it to be chunky.
5. Since I used all the same ingredients for both cheeses, I started by pulsing the dry ingredients first. Once I got a nice crumble, I separated about 1/3 of the nut mixture aside, and added 3-4 tbsp nutritional yeast and salt. This is my parmesan crumble.
6. With the rest of the cheese ingredients in the blender, add a tbsp of miso (which is often used for culturing nut cheeses and adds a subtle authentic flavor to it), lime or lemon juice, salt and a cup of water. Begin blending and adding water slowly until desired consistency is reached. You might want to leave it to sit for a few minutes, and if it dries up, add a tad more water and blend again.
7. Now it’s time to layer and assemble your lasagna! The fun part of the whole process:
Start by covering the bottom of your tray with lasagna strips. Add tomato and vegetable mixture to layer one. Spread about half of the soy protein on top. Add a second layer of lasagna pasta, and pour the cheese sauce over it. Add another layer of soy protein. Depending on the size of your tray (and the amount of lasagna pasta you chose to use), you can go on for as many layers as you can, one red, one white. I had a wide and long but shallow tray (or while I’m at it, not a real tray at all, but a reusable one), and went for one layer of red, one of white, and after adding a third layer of pasta, I finished with a thin layer of red sauce and all the parmesan crumble.
8. Bake for 15 min on 375, or until your parmesan cheese turned slightly golden. All the ingredients are cooked already, so you can’t under-cook it.
I was out of oregano and basil! Otherwise they would both be wonderful sprinkled on top. If you have olives or capers, they would really round up this preparation as well and add that Italian flare.
The cheese sauce is super universal, and can be used for anything from pasta to salad dressing. It is made with nuts, so it’s filling, higher in calories and fat. But raw and delicious, none the less!
Serve with a large salad, and enjoy!
If you test out my recipes, use hashtag #GIRrecipes or #Girlintheraw so that I can find them and read about your experience.