Lasagna. I made a really good lasagna that had a meat sauce and cheese that was so good people would ask me for the recipe after having tried it at potlucks. Since trying to avoid meat and cheese for many years now but still loving lasagna I thought I would come up with one that did not include those elements but still was tasty and nutritious. Still something everyone could enjoy. (unless you’re nut free, or tomato free, or onion free or mushroom free. Well, let’s just stick to the dairy and meat free for this recipe)
Of course if you are avoiding any of those mentioned in the parentheses then feel free to omit or substitute where you feel necessary. Except for maybe the tomatoes. That’s a pretty key element.
We like to use kids as a gauge as to how good food is in our society as we know how honest they can be and notoriously picky. When my son saw this his first reaction was to say “I want a normal lasagna” I said “what’s normal? Give it a try then let me know what you think.” He took a small 2″ piece. Ate it. Then got a large piece. So there you have it. It’s delicious!
Lasagna is a special occasion meal. For families and gatherings of friends. It takes about 2 hours to make it so not only is it the time that goes in to it but the love and intention. Usually when making a lasagna it’s for a crowd of people or something you could make for meal prepping or to freeze for later but probably so that you can have it to share with someone. It’s something that because it needs a lot of time to make vs. the quick 30 minute meals we frequently need, it is like a meditation wherein it allows you to slow down and mindfully focus on your task, maybe it’s intended purpose, maybe the delight it will bring to whom it’s being served. Lasagna is a lovely thing. That needs to be served with love. Slow down. Enjoy those times with friends and family. Enjoy life in the pink.
We start with the tomato sauce, blanching and peeling the tomatoes:
then removing the stems and dicing them. Keep them in the bowl until needed.
We prepare the onions, celery, carrot and garlic, then add the tomatoes and herbs:
you could add a cup of water if needed too. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes then add the pumpkin that serves as a thickener as well as additional nutrients. When the simmer has calmed, purée the sauce, still leaving a little texture if desired. You may be asking why on earth I chose to use pumpkin as a thickener rather than tomato paste? The simple answer is because I wanted to. The more elaborate answer consists of a few reasons: It’s pumpkin season (at the time of this post), it adds a different colour element, it has different vitamin and nutrient content to add especially since we already have tomatoes plus it does the job of tomato paste in that it thickens the sauce.
Prepare the nutty cheeze sauce:
Prepare the veggies and add to a bowl:
Now that the elements are prepared it’s time to assemble. You could use oven-ready noodles or ones you need to boil, either way it takes the same amount of time to bake. You’ll need a 13″X 9″ baking dish. The pattern is this:
Sauce, noodles, cheeze, veggies, noodles, sauce, noodles, cheeze, veggies, noodles, sauce, tomatoes.
Then bake it uncovered for about 35 – 40 minutes. Take it out and let it rest for about 10 minutes! I stress this because it’s important to let it rest. Not only will it be too hot to eat but it helps the lasagna hold its shape when serving it.
- 1 can diced tomatoes or 4 large tomatoes
- 2 onions
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 1 carrot, shredded
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 tbsp basil (additional leaves for garnish)
- 1/4 cup fresh or dried oregano
- 1 cup puréed pumpkin
Nutty Cheese sauce:
- 2 cups raw cashews (or almonds) soaked for at least 2 hours
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (nooch)
- juice from 1/2 Lemon OR kombucha vinegar (about 1/4 cup)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- about 1 cup water (for smooth consistency
For the lasagna:
- 12 of your favourite lasagna noodles
- 3 tomatoes sliced for top
- 1 cup chopped fresh spinach
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 cup mushrooms. chopped
- 1 small beet, shredded
- Start with the tomato sauce. (If using fresh tomatoes: boil a pot of water and blanch tomatoes until skin peels from flesh (about 2 minutes) remove from boiling water into cold water and peel skin away. Dice the tomatoes and set aside.) OR open a 540 ml can of diced tomatoes.
- Heat a large pot on medium. Chop the onion and add to the pot, then add the celery and shredded carrot until soft. Add the garlic. Cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and herbs. Stir then cover to come to a boil, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes. Add pumpkin and stir and cook for an additional 10 minutes until thickened. Turn off heat then when it’s cooled slightly puree with an immersion blender.
- While sauce is melding, prepare the nutty cheese sauce: drain the soaked nuts and add to a high-powered blender along with the nooch, vinegar/lemon and salt. Start on low and determine if additional water is needed, then add slowly as you increase the speed. Should have a thick but spreadable consistency. Set aside.
- Prepare the veggies for the veggies layer: chop the spinach, pepper and mushroom and add to a bowl. Shred the beet separately.
- Turn oven temp to 375 °F and start to assemble the lasagna in a 13″ X 9″ baking dish: Sauce, noodles, cheeze, veggies, noodles, sauce, noodles, cheeze, veggies, noodles, sauce, tomatoes.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes uncovered until noodles are soft. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.
- Enjoy life in the pink!