Garden Lasagna (vegan)

by Anna

My favorite recipes are loose guidelines – the sort my grandma and mom passed down. Our family’s muffin recipe calls for a cup of smashed fruit, for example, and any fruit will do. It calls for half a cup of moistener – could be oil, applesauce, smashed banana, or butter. You get to use your creativity, but you know you’ll come out with something delicious…

This lasagna recipe is like that. Use your favorite vegetables. It is lighter and more vegetable-y  than it is saucy or cheesy. If you want it to be heartier, choose lots of different mushrooms for your vegetable layer, for flavor and texture, and use a hearty, thick bottled sauce.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Basically, you’ll create pasta sheets, sauce, vegetable filling and “cheese”.  Alternate in layers, beginning with sauce on the bottom, then pasta sheets, then veggies, then cheese, until your pan is filled up. Top with either the sauce or the veggies. The “cheese” is best used up in one or two layers at the most, midway through. Bake, covered for 30 minutes or until everything is heated through (might take 45 minutes). I sometimes take the cover off after the 30 minutes, and heat an additional five or ten if the vegetables have released a lot of moisture that I want to evaporate.

1) Pasta Sheets: To create your own, follow this recipe. I haven’t tried to find vegan pasta sheets at the store, but I’m sure they’re out there. If you can recommend any, leave a comment! 🙂

2) Sauce: To create your own, follow this recipe. You can also use your favorite jarred sauce, although watch out for high sodium and added high fructose corn syrup (just read the ingredients label to ensure you’re choosing a healthful sauce).

3) Vegetable Filling: The amount you need depends on the size of your pan, and the vegetables you need depend on your tastes. For  a 9″ x 13″ pan, I saute a chopped onion in olive oil until it is translucent, then I add garlic, a chopped eggplant, one bunch of kale, chopped, a few handfuls of fresh green beans, chopped, and a package of mushrooms, (in that order) and I usually end up with a few cups extra, which I save and add to a stew or use to make extra individual lasagnas. I just undercook the veggies, knowing that they’ll cook more in the oven. If you are using something that cooks quickly, like spinach, don’t add it to your saute – the 30 minutes in the oven will be enough. Add it directly to the vegetable layer as you’re layering.

4) Cheese: I tear one block of extra firm tofu into shredded, uneven chunks  about an inch each, then sprinkle liberally with lemon juice and sea salt to taste and let sit while making the sauce and veggie filling. The tanginess of the lemon juice and saltiness of the sea salt help mimic ricotta, especially once it is next to the vegetables and sauce. I usually only do one layer of the “cheese”.

Enjoy!

Photo Credits: Simon Howden

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=404

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