Thursday, December 22, 2011

Recipe: Vegan Lasagna without Tofu!

I love finding new ways of doing the tried and true. Here is a recipe for a vegan lasagna made for my daughter-in-law who is allergic to soy and dairy foods. It is easy, delicious, beautiful, still very healthy and will become a staple for us even when we don't make it just for her!

When I say easy, of course it is more time-consuming than just opening jars and doing a lasagna version of 'dump cake', but it is well worth the time and effort involved, with the time and effort mostly spent just chopping vegetables, something I do nearly everyday anyhow! :-)

Here it is. It was inspired by a recipe I found just typing 'vegetarian lasagna no tofu' into a search engine. Remember that all recipes such as this are very flexible and forgiving. For instance, I added a cup of cubed and cooked winter squash because I had some to use up in my refrigerator. You could leave it out, use another type of squash, or even add something else in its place that you have hanging out to use such as eggplant, zucchini, cubed potatoes, etc, etc.

Vegan Lasagna (soy-free, dairy-free)

(1) Vegetables for adding to the tomato sauce:
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 peeled and grated carrots
1 # sliced mushrooms
5-6 cloves garlic - chopped fine
12 ounces frozen spinach, chopped
1 cup cubed, cooked butternut squash
16 oz. can adzuki beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

(2) 2 cups dried garbanzo beans, cooked until very soft and then pureed with a little water or broth if needed (or puree 2-3 cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed well)

(3) Tomato Sauce
1 quart canned tomatoes
1 pint pasta sauce
Mix together. Season sauce as needed to your taste with basil, oregano, cayenne, rosemary, salt, pepper.  (Note: more salt may be needed than you think because there are no salt-added products used such as commercially canned tomatoes, canned beans, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese etc)

(4) No boil lasagna noodles (I use a whole wheat brand)

(5) 1/4 cup braising liquid for vegetables - I simply used some of the liquid from the quart of the canned tomatoes.


1) Braise onions and carrots in liquid for ~5 minutes or until slightly softened but not mushy.
2) Add mushrooms and chopped garlic. Braise and stir until mushrooms start to soften and give up some of their own liquid.
3) Add remaining vegetables, adzuki beans, nutritional yeast, tomatoes, seasonings as desired and stir together.
4) To assemble, put a ladle or two of sauce on the bottom of a 9x12 baking dish. Cover bottom of baking dish with noodles (don't skimp, I used four full noodles for each layer, overlapping slightly). Layer half of the pureed garbanzo beans over the noodles. Add another 2 ladles of tomato sauce over garbanzo puree. Start layers over with noodles, garbanzos, tomatoes, noodles and then enough tomato sauce to cover well.
5) Cover with foil, bake in pre-heated over at 350 degrees for ~50 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting to serve. I did put baking dish on a cookie sheet to catch any spill-overs.  (Special note - based on my own goof - if you make this dish ahead of time and put it in the refrigerator until baking, it will need a far longer baking time!! D'oh! Give it at least 75 minutes in that case.)

Yum, yum - all whole foods and locally-grown or produced foods used every place possible.

(Photo: Final assembly with 3 layers of noodles, 2 layers of the garbanzo puree, some sauce on the bottom and between each layer with the remainder of the sauce on top. It was suggested at dinner that a layer of cheese could go on top of half of the pan. Next time!)

Below is one picture of the deer in our yard. No photo I took does the wide view justice (and most were terrible where the screens completely blurred the photo). I am thinking that Santa sent his 9 best deer to our farm (spa?) to finish eating our field of pumpkins and other healthy abundant local foods for rest and strength before their big world tour on Saturday night. Check to see if Rudolph has an orange nose this year!
(Photo: 4 of the 9 deer grazing outside our window last week at sunset)
Finally, I am including the blessing we read last night before supper. It is an ancient food blessing from the Quiche branch of the Mayan culture in Guatemala.

Mother Earth, you who give us food,
whose children we are and on whom we depend,
please make this produce you give us flourish
and make our children and animal grow....

Children, the earth is the mother of man,
because she gives him food. 

~ Rigoberta Menchu, Nobel Peace Prize winner 1992
(provided in the book Bless this Food by Adrian Butash)

In addition, at each meal, we honor and thank all whose hands and hearts helped to bring us our food.

During this holiday season and these dark days that also bring this season the deep sense of hope, I send my hope to each of my readers that you find hope in your own heart and spirit as together we celebrate the beautiful parts of this season and look forward to 2012, a new year that will be filled with health for your body and joy for your spirit.

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

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