Friday, March 28, 2008

My First Lasagna

I love Italian food. Baked ziti. Eggplant parmesean. Ravioli. Penne pesto. Fettuccine alfredo. Stuffed shells. Pasta covered and filled with gooey, creamy, cheesy goodness.

Wait. That doesn't work when you're vegan, does it?

Enter FatFreeVegan's Easy Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna. The coolest thing about this is there's no fake cheese in it. I'm sure there are great recipes for that stuff, but right now, I just want my food to be what it is, not an imitation of something else. There's tofu in the spinach layer, which thickens it up much like ricotta would, but it's not "fake ricotta".

Wait, I lied. The actual coolest thing about this lasagna is that it tastes awesome. The runner up is the lack of faux cheese.

Hold everything! I'm living a lie! This is not really my first lasagna. I made my first lasagna EVER in October, for my friends as part of their raw wedding present. But I didn't get to taste it (it was for them and I was on the Master Cleanse) and it was raw, so I've decided not to count it.

Back to this lasagna.

It is SO good. My mother tried a bite, then went to a wedding. She came back from the wedding and said they had veggie lasagna there too, but it wasn't anywhere near as good as mine. Win!

I enhanced the recipe a bit. It calls for jarred sauce, but I made the tomato sauce from More Than Twigs & Berries instead (I recommend both the sauce and zine. It's basically vegan Canadian cooking. I've never been to Canada, so it's all new and exciting to me). I topped it with sliced black olives and the vegan parmesean from Yellow Rose Recipes (do I need to mention the fabulousness of this book again?). I know I said no fake cheese, but really, the parm doesn't taste like parm. It tastes like love. I hate parmesean cheese. The smell is enough to make me flee the room. But I put this stuff on everything. There has been a container in my fridge at all times since I got the book.

The most exciting thing about this was cutting into the lasagna, lifting out a piece and watching it NOT fall apart. I was actually able to see the layers! Whenever I've bought a tray of lasagna from a pizzeria, cutting it was the hugest mess ever. This was amazingly tidy. It's probably partially because of the lack of gooey cheese, but I also think it's because of Susan's trick of putting the noodles in the lasagna raw. They aren't pre-boiled. This makes it way easier to spread the spinach and sauce on them and keeps them from getting soggy while they cook. Genius!


I ate it with edamame because I happened to have a bag in the freezer. I always associate edamame with Japanese food, so having it with Italian was weird for my brain but happiness for my mouth and tummy.

Easy Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp. chopped garlic
2 tbsp. water
2 26-oz jars of spaghetti sauce (one batch of the MTTB sauce was perfect)
9 lasagna noodles
Soy Parmesan
Sliced black olives


10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 lb firm tofu
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. rosemary, crushed
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Sauté the mushrooms and garlic over medium heat in the 2 tbsp. water until tender; cover between stirring to keep them from drying out. Remove from heat and add the spaghetti sauce.

Place the tofu and thawed spinach in the food processor and process briefly. Add the remaining filling ingredients to the processor and blend until smooth. (You may do this without a food processor by using a potato masher on the tofu.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Spread half of the sauce in the bottom of a 9x12-inch pan. Place a layer of noodles over the sauce, using three dry noodles and leaving a little space in between them. Spread half of the tofu mixture on the noodles (I drop it by spoonfuls and then spread it). Cover with another layer of 3 noodles and then spread the remaining tofu mixture over them. Top with a final layer of noodles, and pour the remaining sauce over this. Cover the dish tightly with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Then, remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with soy Parmesan and sliced black olives if you want. The lasagna will cut better if you allow it to cool for 15 minutes before serving.


Jane said...

Hi Seitan
That looks delicious. I especially love the black olives running across the top.
I'm wondering why you are against faux ricotta though? I use the Real Food Daily cookbook to make a spanakopita that is out of this world. (I think the recipe is for phyllo triangles, but I'm too lazy to do all that work so I layer it like spanakopita.) It calls for calls for a tofu ricotta (recipe provided), which doesn't taste like any ricotta I remember, but is amazingly good. We use the excess with steamed veggies the next day.

Jane of

Seitan Said Dance said...

Thanks, Jane!

I'm not really against faux ricotta (or any fake cheese), I'm just in the mood for my food to just be what it is and not pretend it's something else. Like General Tso's "chicken" is normally my favorite thing to get when we go for Chinese, but I've been all about crispy bean curd instead lately. Similar taste, but no "identity crisis".

trina said...

I love the idea of lasagna without precooking the noodles. I'm gonna have to try this recipe. But my all time favorite is the (no fake cheese) lasagna from Nonna's Italian Kitchen.

Paula Dines said...

Seitan, that looks delicious!

Your layers really show off the ingredients; it's a beautiful picture.

Why is pasta so darned good? I think I need to do some mushroom/spinach pasta tonight.

wingraclaire said...

I've been making this dish for awhile now and my non-vegan (vegetarian) family loves it.

I'm liking your blog, and thanks so much for the Passover recipes. Every year my family gets together with two other families for a vegan seder, and I'm always on the lookout for something we have not tried.