Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Soy-Free Vegan Lasagna

I don't know about you, but lasagna has always been one of my favorite comfort foods. My mom used to make lasagna often when I was growing up and when Brandon and I got married it was one of the first meals that I "attempted" to make on my own. But over the years, my lasagna has changed quite a bit. At first it was full of meat, cottage cheese and eggs, and more cheese. Then the red meat came out and I replaced it with ground turkey. Shortly after that I found out I had food sensitivities to gluten and dairy, so replaced whole wheat noodles with gluten-free ones,  ricotta cheese with tofu, and ground turkey with tempeh. For several years this recipe worked great for me, but after some experimenting with cashews as "cheese" in other recipes, I began wondering if they could be used in a lasagna and the results: amazing!  The cashew cheese gives the lasagna a super creamy, lightly sweet flavor that I missed when I went to using tofu.



This is by far my favorite lasagna recipe right now and it's the one I feel great eating. As a vegan it's really easy to fall into what I call the "soy trap" of replacing all meat and dairy products with soy alternatives, and before you know it you're having soy for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And although soy has some great health benefits, like everything else, it's good eat in moderation. So lately I've been trying to reduce my soy-intake to about 2-4 times a week.  Whether your avoiding soy or just trying to decrease your soy consumption, this lasagna is for you.

The best part about this lasagna that you can customize it however you want. Add some veggies in... sure. Make it with wheat noodles...no problem. Whatever you do, just make it because boy it is good!


Soy-Free Vegan Lasagna

"Cashew Cheese" is adapted from The Simple Veganista's "Cashew Ricotta Cheese"

Lasagna Ingredients:
  • 1 pkg lasagna noodles, I use Tinkyada Brown Rice Lasagna Noodles to make it gluten-free
  • 2 jars of spaghetti sauce, I use 1 1/2 jars for the recipe and save the other half for other snacks throughout the week. I like this brand "Sneaky Chef" and the flavor "Smooth Red" because it's loaded with 8 veggies (that have been blended up so you don't even taste them) and also because it's the only spaghetti sauce I've been able to find at my grocery stores that DOES NOT have sugar as an ingredient (who knew it was that hard to find?!)
"Cashew Ricotta Cheese" Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups cashew pieces or whole cashews (just not salted) 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbs. nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • dash of onion powder and garlic salt
  • salt and pepper 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. You'll need a 2 quart casserole dish (mine is 7 x 11").

Ingredient group shot.
Steps:
1. Soak 1 1/2 cups of cashews in water (enough to cover them) for a minimum
of 2 hours...or at least 30 minutes if you're like me and forget to do it!

2. Bring a bot of water to a boil in a large stockpot. When boiling add
the lasagna noodles.

3. When your cashews are done soaking, drain them and rinse with water.

4. Now begin adding the cashews and other ricotta cheese ingredients
(1/2 cup water, 1 Tbs. nutritional yeast, 1 Tbs. lemon juice, 1 garlic clove,
and a dash of salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic salt). 

5. Then blend until smooth. If needed, add a tablespoon extra of water if it
still isn't smooth to get the blender going some more.

6. Transfer the cheese to a bowl so it's ready for lasagna assembly.

7. When done cooking, drain the lasagna noodles and rinse with cool
water. I like to separate my noodles so they don't stick together.

8. Now add 1 1/2 jars of spaghetti sauce to a sauce pan. You can heat it up
if you would like, but I don't. i just like how the saucepan makes it easier
for assembling the lasagna. 

9, Now set up your lasagna assembly station: noodles, sauce, cheese.
You may want to add a little sauce on the bottom of the casserole
dish so the noodles don't stick.

10. Now begin assembling: noodles come first (I do 4-5 noodles per layer)

11. Followed by the cashew ricotta cheese.


12. Last comes the sauce. I repeat this 2 more times. This gives me 3 layer:
bottom, middle, and top. 

Here is what it looks like when it's ready to bake in the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

Here's what it looks like once it's done cooking. Let it cool and serve it up!

I like to have my lasagna with roasted broccoli and cauliflower, yum!

Now for a "Kid Taste Test"...

Eating...

...and it's a win! She loved it!

Mila on the other hand is quite the Houdini in her high chair and was
more interested in climbing her chair than giving me a full report.

But as you can tell by her face, she loved it as well.
So there you have it, my favorite gluten-free, soy-free vegan lasagna. Do you think you will give it a try? Have you ever used cashews as the base of a vegan cheese? Or do you have a favorite vegan lasagna recipe? Share below!

Happy cooking greenies.

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