Today I am going to share with you one of my very favorite recipes that is so easy to prepare, delicious to eat, and versatile to bring to many social events: lasagna!
This time of year is filled with busyness and socializing and getting together with family and friends. Not to mention that this year, I am in the chorus in A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas and just started rehearsals with Asheville Community Theater (I’m in the ensemble for 9 to 5)! And…we are finding that there is always something to do or somewhere to be in Asheville. So…I need to manage my time wisely.
Since there are lots of potlucks and other events where many of the guests are not vegan, it is important for us to bring items to eat that will keep us satisfied, and hopefully show our non-vegan loved ones just how tasty vegan food can be. Our “go-tos” are: lasagna, spritz cookies, and vegan cheese fondue. I will be sharing the recipes throughout the next few blog posts.
Today, let’s start with lasagna, since I think this is our absolute favorite dish. In fact, one day I said, “You know, we really don’t need to wait for a holiday to make this. It’s healthy and even though it tastes decadent, it’s really pretty good for you!”
My girlfriend, Kim, doesn’t really cook much, but she found a website that has some excellent recipes. In fact, we have yet to find one that we didn’t like. For the past two years, we have brought this lasagna dish to Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings. And it is always the BOMB! In fact, Kim’s mom raved last year that it was “better than mine and it doesn’t even have cheese!” People usually remark about how good it tastes. The funny part is that Kim is usually the one who makes it; it’s easy and not that time consuming.
This year it was my turn to try my hand at it, because I wanted to be able to share it with you. The recipe is here. It is a relatively healthy recipe, too; it is gluten-free and oil-free (not fat-free, though, because it uses cashews—a healthy source of fat).
The first thing I did was soak the cashews for 2 hours. I also set out my mise en place. I don’t remember if I mentioned this term before, but basically what it means is getting out everything you need BEFORE you start cooking. I am really bad at that! I definitely like to dive in and get half way done and then realize I don’t have an item.
Next, I took off the ends of the zucchini and sliced them into 1/8″ – 1/4″ slices. Be careful here. You really need a sharp knife. The thinner that you can get them, the better they cut, taste, etc. Note: you can also use summer squash or crooknecks, as they call ’em. I have used a combination of both, whatever looks good in the store, farmer’s market, etc.
Making the vegan ricotta filling is super easy with a Vitamix, perhaps the best purchase that I have ever made. I use it so much! Basically, you put the soaked cashews, water, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast*, garlic cloves, onion powder, salt and pepper in the Vitamix and blend it into this heavenly mixture. I could eat it right out of the blender! (*Note: nutritional yeast can be found in the bulk section of most health food stores, and some supermarkets. It is also in the health foods section sometimes. It gives has a cheesy flavor and is used in many vegan cheese dishes.)
Once you’ve sliced the zucchini and blended the ricotta. The rest is super easy to do.
It’s just layering: sauce, zucchini, ricotta, sauce, zucchini, ricotta, sauce, zucchini, sauce.
You could use noodles if you didn’t want the gluten free version, but we love it so much that we have never tried that. One time, I did sub eggplant for the zucchini. It came out pretty good, but I need to cut them thinner than I did and discard the tough outer skin, which I didn’t do.
We ate it so quickly the last time I made it, that I forgot to take the final picture to show you the finished dish. So…I had to make it again yesterday. So yummy! Really it could go into our regular weekly routine. Easy, inexpensive, and totally tasty! And…it makes for a great dish to bring to celebrations! All winners in my book!