Sunday, April 20, 2008

Vegan lasagna

Forgive me! Forgive me for not posting for a month, and forgive me for the poor quality of the photo in this post!

I've done a lot of cooking lately. Last week was Vegan Challenge Week* at the University of Oregon. I'm the co-director for Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and I have been BUSY. Last Tuesday I gave a vegan food demonstration where I made lasagna and Da Bomb Cookies. The cookies came out even better than they did the first time I made them. Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture (oops!), and I also did not take a picture of the lasagna I made. Luckily, I made a practice lasagna a few days before the demo, and I took pictures of that one.

Vegan Lasagna Recipe

Ingredients for sauce:
olive oil
1/3 cup onion
3-10 cloves garlic, depending on your taste (I love garlic)
2 cans large of crushed tomatoes
1 bell pepper
salt to taste
Italian spices, marjoram, dried basil, paprika, and red pepper flakes to taste. I like a lot of red pepper and marjoram, but you may want less.
and, honestly, whatever else you want to put in it. Sometimes I put olives in the sauce. Sometimes I add some wine. Sometimes I use balsamic vinegar or lime/lemon juice to add a little more flavor. You don't really need any tomato paste because lasagna sauce is supposed to be rather saucy, but I guess that depends on how chunky your crushed tomatoes are.

Instructions for sauce: Use a large saucepan. Fry the garlic and onion in oil until the onion becomes slightly transparent. Then, add the tomato sauce. Stir it up, and then add the rest of ingredients. Keep stirring until the sauce is heated all the way through.

I've gotten really into making sauces from scratch, but I didn't have time for that when I was making the lasagna. At some point, I'll make tomato sauce from scratch and leave some directions on here. It's so much fun and it tastes 1,000,000x better! But, for now, this will do. It's a lot better than buying a can of Ragu or something - yuck!

Ingredients for tofu ricotta:
1 pound extra-firm tofu
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 clove garlic
salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste
4 tablespoons rice/soy/nut milk, or until the cheese is the texture you want it to be.
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
handful of spinach or basil (I use spinach because I hate fresh basil, but it still adds the aesthetic quality of basil)

Instructions for tofu ricotta: Cut the tofu into 1-2 inch cubes, then grind it up in a food processor. You may need to add the milk for this. Then, add everything except the spinach/basil, and food process it until it is all mixed in. Then, stir in the greens! And you've got yourself some cheese! Taste it and make sure you don't want to add anymore salt or something before you apply it to the lasagna.

Other ingredients for lasagna:
LASAGNA NOODLES! I honestly forgot to buy these when I got groceries, and I had to walk back to the store in shame to buy them. So, don't forget the noodles!
Any veggies you want to put in it, really. In my practice lasagna, I used chard and kalamata olives. I always put the bell peppers on top because I think it makes it look pretty, but there are already bell peppers in the sauce, so I don't put them in the layers of the lasagna. In the demo lasagna, I used spinach, kalamata olives, and portobello mushrooms for the layers. Then, I still had the olives and bell pepper on top.

Instructions for lasagna:
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2) Boil the noodles. Drain them. If they stick, you can pull them apart by running cold water over them.
2) Layer the lasagna however you want. If you are using mushrooms, fry them in oil and garlic beforehand. I use raw spinach, but some people cook that beforehand also. When layering your lasagna, please make sure there is a lot of sauce on the bottom of the pan so it doesn't stick. And make sure you have lots of sauce on top as well because otherwise the noodles will get too crispy in the oven.
3) Bake it for 25-30 minutes with aluminum foil over the lasagna.
4) Then, remove the aluminum foil and bake for aother 15-25 minutes, or until the edges of noodles are slightly browned and the sauce is bubbling. Keep an eye on it because the baking times really very from oven to oven.
5) If possible, let it cool for a few minutes before you cut it. This will keep the layers from falling apart when you are transporting it to your plate.
6) Enjoy!

By the way, you can use the cheese for LOTS of other dishes. I use it for manicotti. It might be good in crepes. You could change a few of the seasonings and maybe use it in place of feta on salads, etc. There is just a lot of stuff you can do with it, so it is a great recipe to have. The recipe here is a slight variation from Vegonomicon's tofu ricotta. They don't put any vegan milk in their recipe, and I changed a few of the measurements.

Also, I fed the practice lasagna to my nonvegan neighbors. One of them said, "WOW! I didn't know vegan food could taste good!" His comment made my week.

*Vegan Challenge Week was in honor of Earth Week. SETA got people to sign up to go vegan for the week, and we hosted events to make a vegan diet easier for students who agreed to participate. It was a lot of fun, and hopefully the participants got a lot out of it.

No comments: