Food How-To: Vegan, Gluten-Free Lasagne & Recipes for the Week of February 6

by Julie

When I was growing up, my idea of lasagne, for the most part, came in a box from the freezer aisle of Safeway. It was the dinner my grandmother heated up for my brother and I when we came to visit during the summer months. And guess what? We loved it.

But then my mom made homemade lasagne one evening–maybe I requested it for my birthday dinner one year, I can’t remember–and ever since then, I’ve craved the freshly made kind. Granted, my mom used mozzarella and ricotta in her version; she also used wheat noodles, which meant she was never able to take part in her dish on two counts: for the dairy and the gluten. Looking back, I’m struck by the sheer labor of unselfish love that went into this project. Not just the time and the financial expense (let me tell you, growing up, mozzarella cheese was a luxury, not to mention ricotta), but the sadness that comes while cooking, knowing that you’ll not be participating in the act of eating. I’m sure my mother would argue that seeing the look on my face was reward enough, but now that I’ve developed her allergies for dairy and gluten, I say that deep down, that argument falls short. Way short.

So I’ve culled and gathered various recipes over the years, and have tried to assemble a version of lasagne–free of dairy and gluten–that would give my mother’s a run for its money. I’ll share it with you, but I’m really hoping my mom will read this post, try it, and tell me herself.

Julie’s Gluten-Free, Vegan Lasagne

Ingredients

10 ounces gluten-free lasagne noodles (like these)

For sauce:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 28-ounce can of organic crushed tomatoes

seasoning, to taste, such as minced garlic, basil, oregano, tarragon, nutritional yeast, salt & pepper

For tofu ricotta (recipe from this book):

1 pound extra-firm organic tofu (in truth, I’ve used firm, and it’s been just fine); drain and press dry

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

black pepper

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (I almost always use more!)

For filling:

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices

1 large bell pepper, cut into slivers or diced

2 large zucchini, cut into coins

other options (depending on how deep your lasagne dish is): mushrooms, spinach, kale

To prepare

Preheat oven to 375. Then, start by making your sauce. Heat oil in a large saucepan or cast iron and add onion, cooking on medium-low heat for 7-10 minutes, until onion begins to brown. Add crushed tomatoes and spices, cook and stir for a minute or two more, then turn off heat and let sit.

Next, work on your tofu ricotta. Simply combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, roll up your sleeves, and use your fingers to crumble and mix. After a good and proper mixing, you should have what looks like crumbled feta or ricotta cheese.

Take out a 9 x 13 deep lasagne pan and lightly coat the bottom in olive oil and a few spoonfuls of sauce (this will add some extra moisture from below, and keep the noodles from sticking to the pan). Put down one layer of noodles, then cover with your tofu ricotta. Set aside to chop your veggies.

Layer your zucchini and bell peppers over the ricotta, then cover with another layer of noodles and sauce. Follow with your eggplant, then a final layer of noodles. Cover the whole casserole with sauce, making sure to add spoonfuls to the corners and sides of the pan–you want to keep the noodles from becoming too dry.

Cover your pan with a layer of foil or oven-safe lid and cook for 30-35 minutes. Then, uncover pan and cook for an additional 20 minutes, until the veggies and noodles are tender. The sauce should be bubbling. Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so, then serve.

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This week’s recipes are all about source exploration. I’ve been inspired lately by all-things found, especially when it comes to written and hand doodling remnants. One of my writing projects has to do with Alice Through the Looking Glass and on Saturday I found this poem, written by a 2nd-grade girl, that I thought was perfect: “The mad genius caterpillar / made earth live and the earth / thanked him.”

Huffington Post recently did a bit of exploring, too, in the department of vegan food. Here’s a link to the article, and by clicking on and following the links to some of the blogs featured, I found some pretty great recipe sources. Hope you enjoy.

Monday, February 6: Sweet Potato, Kale, and Chickpea Soup (inspired by COOKIE + kate)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

2 small to medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (or butternut squash)

Salt, to taste

2 tablespoons red Thai curry paste (available in the Asian section at most grocery stores)

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed

6 to 7 cups vegetable broth

2 cups cooked chickpeas

1/2 roasted red pepper, finely chopped

1/2 small bunch of crinkly purple kale or green kale, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Tuesday, February 7: Beet, Potato, and Avocado Salad (from The First Mess)

Ingredients:

for vinaigrette
1 small shallot, finely diced/minced up
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/3 cup grape seed or other neutral flavour oil

for salad
1/2 pound mini yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed
2 medium beet roots, scrubbed
1 medium avocado, just ripe, not too soft and smushy-messy
10 blades of chives, finely sliced
juice of half a lemon
2-3 Tablespoon capers
salt and pepper

Wednesday, February 8: Tofu Tacos (feel free to adapt this recipe from whole family fare to suit your favorite vegetable fare)

Ingredients

1/2 pound extra firm tofu
ground cumin seed
ground cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt
juice of 1/2 a lime
extra virgin olive oil
4 corn tortillas
red onion, for topping
fresh cilantro, for topping

avocado, for topping

Thursday, February 9: Purple Pesto Pasta (from The Yellow House)

Ingredients

1/4 head red cabbage, chopped coarsely
Several tablespoons olive oil (it will depend on how large your cabbage is)
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
Kosher salt
1 cup gluten-free penne

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