A friend asked me for this recipe and I thought I might as well post it to the blog, since all I’ve been doing over the break is cooking and eating (though I *should* be reading).
If the fact that the recipe is vegetarian didn’t already deter you, learning it is also dairy-free likely will. I know, it is practically a cardinal sin to make dairy free italian food. But every year I resolve to try a handful of new recipes. And I need to drop a size so I can fit into my clothes (especially those I plan to wear in Tokyo!) Cutting out dairy products is a great way to shed pounds and increase intake of vegetables and beans/legumes. (No, I’m not talking about rapid weight loss like the Fatkins diet. Yes, I exercise too. And yes, I understand how to consume adequate amounts of iron, protein, calcium, Vitamin D, and the different types of B vitamins that are so vital to the body.) Besides, a 2009 Newsweek article pointed out that about 65% of Americans are lactose intolerant. This is consistent with data published in peer-reviewed medical journals (and of course varies with race). And since so many of my friends and family members maintain a dairy-free diet, I’m hoping this recipe will add to your collection or give you ideas (*and* that you’ll share your treasured recipes!?)
The recipe is taken from Garden Cuisine by Paul Wenner. I found this cookbook at the Salvation Army a couple of years ago for $4.99. It is a gem. I have a lot of vegetarian cookbooks that have received high marks from reviewers, but I think this is the best and ironically the least known. I’ve written about my love for Chef Paul before. He invented and launched the Garden Burger after owning a vegetarian restaurant in Portland, Oregon. He is meticulous about finding just the right flavor and texture. Even if you want to add cheese and meat to the recipes, they are still packed full of tasty whole grains, vegetables, beans, and legumes.
2 onions, chopped
12 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, grated
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
2 15 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
2 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
2 tsp. each: Dried basil and oregano
1 tsp. each: Dried thyme, marjoram
½ tsp. black pepper
Optional: 1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 onion, diced
1 potato, peeled and diced
½ pound firm tofu
2 tbs. tahini
1 ½ tbs. lemon juice
¾ tsp. salt
½ pound firm tofu
2 tbs. soy sauce (or Bragg’s liquid aminos, see notes)
1 tsp. garlic powder
10 oz. whole wheat lasagna noodles, uncooked
2 10 oz. packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
Optional: ½ cup chopped fresh fennel
*I also added a couple tablespoons of nutritional yeast to the crumbled tofu mixture (see notes).
Tomato sauce: Heat ½ cup of water in a large skillet/pot and add the onion, garlic, and carrot. Cook until water has evaporated and veggies begin to stick. Add ¼ cup of water and cook until veggies begin to stick again, then add another ¼ cup water and the mushrooms. Continue cooking until water has evaporated and mushrooms are brown. Stir in tomatoes and tomato sauce, basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, fennel seeds, and black pepper. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
White sauce: Combine onion and potato in a small pan with 1 ¼ cups of water. Cover and simmer until potato is tender, about 15 minutes, then pour entire mixture into blender. Add the tofu, tahini, lemon juice, and salt. Blend until completely smooth.
Filling: Crumble ½ pound of tofu and mix it with the soy sauce and garlic powder (and the nutritional yeast, if you decide to add it).
Assembling: Spread about 1 cup of the tomato sauce over the bottom of a large basking dish (12 x 9 or 13 x 9). Cover with a layer of uncooked noodles, then with one of the packages of thawed spinach. Sprinkle with half the fennel, half the crumbled tofu filling, and third of the white sauce, and half of the tomato sauce. Repeat the layers. Set aside remaining white sauce (see notes).
Refrigerate at least 4 hours (to allow noodles to soften), then bake covered at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly (about 40-50 minutes) with the last 5-10 minutes uncovered.
1. Nutritional yeast is a flakey substance that is great for cooking. It has sort of a nutty or cheese-like flavor. It contains protein, essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. It is especially high in vitamins B6 and B12, which makes it a favorite among vegetarians and vegans. And it’s cheap. It can be purchased in small amounts in the bulk foods section or in larger plastic containers.
2. Bragg’s liquid aminos: This looks and tastes like soy sauce (because it is also derived from soy), and costs about the same. It contains 16 amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are 20 types of amino acids.
3. The white sauce is going to taste weird, I know. But once cooked, my guinea pig (Sim) believed it was ricotta cheese until I informed him otherwise.
4. I had about a 1/3 cup of tomato sauce and about 2/3 cup of white sauce leftover. You can probably guard against this by using a 13 x 9 pan instead of a 12 x 9. The white sauce is supposed to be drizzled over the top when the lasagna is done, but there wasn’t room and I don’t think it needs it. The tomato sauce would be great to use with something else like a spaghetti sauce, but the leftover white sauce seems useless – sorry.
226 calories (12% from fat)
3 grams fat
36 grams carbohydrate
365 mg. sodium
13 grams protein
10 grams fiber