Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Vegan Lasagna

Lasagna has always been my go-to meal when I want to have a hearty veggie dish for company. I am a huge fan of the recipe from the original Moosewood Cookbook--a recipe which is no longer in the revised version. As I've been cutting more dairy out of my diet, I've been contemplating ways to make some of my favorite dishes which normally have cheese. I still eat a little bit of dairy (mostly organic goat cheese), and most of my favorite dishes are already dairy free, but the challenge has still been bouncing around in the back of my mind. So this week I finally buckled down and put my ideas into action. The challenge was to replace the creaminess and different textures that the cheese provides. I decided to replace the mozarella layers with roasted butternut squash and roasted garlic, pureed together. The ricotta layer kept it's spinach from my Moosewood recipe, but instead of the cheese and egg, I added finely chopped almonds and sauteed chopped onions. Here is the final recipe:

  • 1 box lasagna noodles, cooked

  • 1 large butternut squash, roasted

  • 4 cloves garlic, roasted

  • 1/3 c. chopped almonds

  • 1 small onion, chopped and sauteed

  • 1 bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained

  • 1 jar marinara sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Puree the squash and garlic together, set aside. Mix almonds, onions, spinach, and salt if desired, set aside. In a 9x13 pan, spread a small amount of sauce in the bottom. Add a layer of noodles. Spoon half the spinach mixture over the noodles, then spoon about half the squash mixture over the spinach layer. Drizzle about 1/3 of the jar over the top. Add another layer of noodles and repeat the layering. Follow with one more layer of noodles, and the remainder of the sauce. Cover the pan with foil and bake approximately 40-45 minutes.

The lasagna was pretty well received. The kids ate it despite the fact that they knew they were missing the school fundraising night at the local fast-food place. The squash definitely gave it that creamy layer that I wanted. I do recommend adding about 3/4 t. of salt to the spinach mixture. I also added a pinch of turmeric to the squash. I would really like to make it with a thick, homemade marinara--I think the tomato sauce is the key to a good lasagna. Next time I will probably use a full head of garlic. The garlic can go in at the end of the roasting with the squash--makes the house smell great! I may also try toasting the almonds before I use them next time. Rob would like them chopped more finely, but I liked the texture. If you give this a try, let me know what you think! Enjoy!