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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Veggie Lasagna

Ahhh, the comfort food of Lasagna.  I remember my mother making it when I was a child.  She always baked it in what I would call a small glass casserole dish.  Funny, now that I think about it, I would recognize it today as a glass bread pan; I always thought it was just THE lasagna pan, ha!  How times have changed since then! Commonly, families bake this Italian goodness in the biggest pan they can find.  Covered with layers and layers of cheese, this oozy dish...nothing screams comfort more than Lasagna!  

Since I've been a "veg" my search for the tastiest recipes have been a priority.  I dislike having the same old thing, day after day, and quickly get bored with food.  Rennie could eat the same thing, everyday, 365 days a year and be content, especially sandwiches of any kind.  Not me baby! I like variety and a lot of it.  So, my search continues on a daily basis, looking at cooking blogs, searching through pins on Pinterest, and even cookbooks that I borrow from our local library.  Some recipes make me want to throw up in my mouth just be reading their ingredients, ick!  But, for the most part I am finding great recipes to try.

One recipe that caught my eye was the "Raise-the-Roof Sweet Potato-Vegetable Lasagna" from The Engine 2 Diet book by Rip Esselstyn.  He encourages his readers and fellow "veggers" (that is my term, not his) to cook and eat as clean as possible, eliminating all animal based products, as well as, oils.  He developed this recipe for the fire engine company he works with.  I think it should have been called, "Everything But the Kitchen Sink" recipe - good Lord, there is an abundance of veggies in it and it took me a while to cut, chop, mix, saute', and put this recipe together!  The picture below was taken prior to baking it.
I have included the original recipe but please keep in mind that this recipe serves 10-12.  I cut everything in half and it filled a 9x13 casserole dish to the rim.  Because it is just the two of us, we ate off of it for at least four days!  It is definitely a keeper for sure, however, I would only make it once every two or three months.

1 onion, chopped
1 small head of garlic, all cloves chopped or pressed
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 head broccoli, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 can corn, rinsed and drained
1 package Silken Lite tofu (This was my first time using tofu - it replaced cottage cheese or ricotta cheese, and surprisingly could not tell the difference)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon rosemary
2 jars pasta sauce (preferably sauce without a lot of high fructose corn syrup and added oil) (I did use two jars in my paired down recipe)
2 boxes whole grain lasagna noodles (*He did not pre-cook his, however, I did)
16 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed (I baked them in the oven ahead of time so they could cool well before I begin assembling the recipe)
6 roma tomatoes, sliced thin
1 cup raw cashews, ground (I added about 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast to the cashew mixture for a cheesy taste)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Saute' the onion and garlic on high heat for 3 minutes in a wok or nonstick pan.  Add the mushrooms and cook until the onions are limp and the mushrooms give up their liquid.  Remove them to a large bowl with a slotted spoon.  Reserve the mushroom liquid in the pan.  Saute' the broccoli and carrots for 5 minutes and add to the mushroom bowl.  Drain the tofu by wrapping it in paper towels.  Break it up directly in the towel and mix into the vegetable bowl.  Add spices to the vegetable bowl and combine.  

To Assemble:
Cover the bottom of a 9x13 inch casserole with a layer of sauce.  Add a layer of noodles.  Cover the noodles with sauce.  This way the noodles cook in the oven, saving time and energy (*See my note above about the noodles).  Spread the vegetable mixture over the sauced noodles.  Cover with a layer of noodles, and another dressing of sauce.  Add the spinach to the second layer of sauced noodles.  Cover the spinach with the mashed sweet potatoes.  Add another layer of sauce, the final layer of noodles, and the last topping of sauce.  Cover the lasagna with thinly sliced roma tomatoes.  

Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.  Remove the foil, sprinkle with the cashews, and return to the oven for 15 minutes.  Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.  

In the meantime, I will continue my hunt for new delicious recipes and I promise I will share them with you when I try them.

Until next time... ~Pamela

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