Sunday, January 15, 2017

Vegan Lasagna #eattolose #foodismedicine #plantbasedwholefoods #oilfree #veganpasta #Kosher #pareve

Vegan Lasagna

Being a whole foods plant based vegan, I get asked all the time if there are any foods I miss.
Well yesterday I was missing lasagna. With very little effort, I managed to veganize my old recipe and was amazed at how well it came out!
I already had a big container of oil free marinara sauce in the fridge that I cooked up over the weekend. All I had to do was come up with a substitute for mozzarella and ricotta cheeses.
Just to make it a challenge, in addition to dairy free, let's make it nut free and oil free too. Nuts and oil add a ton of calories. I already lost the weight. No need to risk packing it back on if I can avoid it.
Off we go to the market! I have a friend who is like me but will only eat whole grain pasta. Challenge accepted!  Barilla has it right on the shelf at my local supermarket. It only contains one ingredient: whole grain durum wheat flour.
Well that was easy!  I already have a recipe for a gooey white cheesy sauce that can substitute for mozzarella.  That just leaves the ricotta cheese.
I found a basic recipe online and twisted it around until it met my oil free, nut free and dairy free vegan parameters. I used extra firm tofu, nutritional yeast, white vinegar, salt, ground pepper, basil and parsley flakes, fresh garlic and starchy water. This part was left grainy for texture keeping the layers of the lasagna distinct. After all, as remarkably delicious as this main course proves to be, we need to complete the picture. It has to be visually pleasing as well. Taste is not limited to the tongue. It already smells great so we just have to make it look great.
While that delicious mazzarella-ish layer on the top is stretchy and tastes wonderful, it just does not easily brown. We need to do something about that.
Here's my solution. Coincidentally, I happened to be walking by the deli case in a restaurant and saw their beautifully presented servings of lasagna displayed with slices of tomato covering the top.
Brilliant and simple! Off we go to the produce department one more time. Colorful, inviting Heirloom tomatoes were on the shelf. The red and yellow varieties were large, firm and plentiful so I got 3 of each. After cooking the lasagna for an hour, I covered the top with thin slices of tomato then ground up some fresh garlic and spices to sprinkle over everything.  Another 5 to 10 minutes under the broiler gave it the finishing touch.   I let it cool for 20 minutes and cut out a slice, just to make sure it held together and tasted right.  It was perfect! Lasagna always tastes better the next day, so after it cooled completely I covered it and put it in the fridge. Now I can just cut out a slice, microwave it for 2 or 3 minutes and I no longer have to miss lasagna!! This time I wrote down the 3 building block's recipes so the next time I have 3 or 4 hours to kill...well...you know.  I don't have to miss lasagna anymore and neither do you 🇺🇸

Vegan Lasagna
The prep and cooking time was 4 hours. I made  the 3 building blocks over 2 days and kept it refrigerated until I was ready to put it together.

Marinara Pasta Sauce
1 can of tomato sauce 28 oz
1 can of diced tomatoes 28 oz
1 can of tomato paste 12 oz 
1 large sweet onion chopped
4 cloves of garlic chopped
2 TBSP of Oregano
1 TBSP of Sweet Basil
1 TBSP of dried Parsley
2 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
6 dates finely chopped

    In a large pot bring 1 cup of salted water to a boil. Add the onion and garlic. Let it boil and stir until the onions become clear. Add the Basil, Oregano and Parsley. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes,  paste and dates. Bring it to a simmer, cover and reduce the heat for 30 minutes.  
    You can add salt and pepper to taste.

Vegan Mozzarella Sauce
4 Yukon gold potatoes
6 TBSP nutritional yeast
6 TBSP Tapioca flour
1 TBSP salt
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 TBSP lemon juice
¼ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp Tabasco
Salt water to boil the potatoes

Peel and boil the quartered potatoes in salted water for 40 minutes. Save 2 cups of the starchy water.  In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients together to prevent clumping. Put the potatoes, 1+¼ cups starchy water and all the wet ingredients in a blender. Pulse a few times to chop it up. Add the dry ingredients and  puree until completely smooth.
Pour it back in the pot from the potatoes. Over medium heat stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it thickens for about 15 minutes. Add a little more starchy water if it gets too thick. Set it aside to set up.

Vegan Ricotta Cheese
1 lb extra firm tofu
6 TBSP nutritional yeast
¼ cup white wine vinegar
2 TBSP starchy water
1 TBSP salt
1 TBSP basil
¼ tsp ground pepper
2 TBSP parsley flakes
2 cloves of minced garlic

Press the water out of the tofu. Crumble it up in a bowl using a fork. Mix everything together. Set aside.

1 box of Lasagna noodles of your choice cooked per package directions in salted water. Do not overcook. Drain and lay it flat until cool enough to handle.

Line a 9 x 13 inch lasagna pan with parchment paper. Put a double layer of noodles in the bottom of the pan. Cover evenly with the marinara sauce. Sprinkle evenly with Ricotta then cover lightly with Mozzarella. Put a single layer of noodles on top of that and repeat the layers of marinara, Ricotta and Mozzarella Sauce making the outer layer thick enough to cover smoothly.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cover the top with thin tomato slices and sprinkle with a mixture of minced garlic, dried parsley, Oregano, basil, rosemary and thyme. Put it back in the oven under the broiler for 5 to 10 minutes to cook and brown the tomatoes.  Let it cool for 20 minutes and cover with foil. Refrigerate over night because lasagna always tastes better the next day. Slice it. Reheat it and serve.