Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Vegetable Lasagna (vegan | gluten-free)

I'm here today with a recipe that stemmed from a serious problem - too much zucchini. I know, it was a toughy to work through, but I think I found the best solution possible.

My parents have always had a garden. As long as I can remember, my dad has planted and provided the required TLC to grow tomatoes, zucchini, squash, and herbs. The resulting bounty gets used pretty quickly, but sometimes they need a little help putting it all to good use, which is lucky for me.

I have adopted this gardening tendency,  and while I'm not nearly as successful with it as my father is, I have been able to keep my tomatoes, lettuce, onions, rhubarb and beets alive this year. I harvested my first round of beets this week, and I felt so cool. Little did we all know that Dwight Shrute had it figured out a long time ago that beets are totally the way to go. So did Doug Funnie.

Instagram: brittawebb

So last night, I had two fat zuccs and three hefty beets sitting on the counter, and we had a little brainstorming session on what their fate would be. After crossing off a simple saute (too boring for these beauties) and zucchini bread (I needed dinner), I decided that the zucchini's lengthy physique would not only make for fantastic "noodles," but they would pair quite nicely with those beets when nestled together in some Italian flavors.

I instantly remember this cashew "cheese" recipe my sister and I had used for our pizza, and realized then and there that a layered casserole of sorts would have to come into play. And oh MAN, it played hard. I can't wait for leftovers today.

This cashew cheese is so good. It has the same texture as ricotta, which makes it quite perfect for this dish. I found myself dipping leftover zucchini bits in it, so it makes a great dip as well. I also loved being able to use the entire beet, from the greens to the actual flesh. I don't particularly love the taste of beet greens, so this covered that up well so I was able to get all their amazing nutrients.

Lemon Ricotta Cashew Cheese
From Lunchbox Bunch

1 1/2 cups soaked and drained raw cashews (soak in salted water overnight)
1 tsp garlic powder
2 cloves of raw garlic
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup water + more as needed
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
dash of pepper
dash of cayenne
1 tsp mixed dried Italian herbs (optional)
a few dashes of ground flax seeds (optional)
small scoop of nutritional yeast (optional)

For the lasagna veggie portion
Based off this recipe

1/2 block firm tofu, diced
1/2 cup diced onion
2 Tb minced garlic
red pepper flakes
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, pureed in a food processor
Italian spices
3 beets, cooked and cut into chunks
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
1 cup garbanzo beans
1/4 cup diced kalamata olives
1 large zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch strips
beet greens, torn into chunks
1/4 cup green onions

1. Make the cashew cheese sauce, and refrigerate.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

3. In a skillet, cook the onion, tofu and a splash of water over medium heat until the onion softens. Add in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes and continue to cook in low heat for 10 minutes to let the flavors mingle.

4. In a medium bowl, mix together the beets, cherry tomatoes, garbanzo beans, and olives. Add in 1/4 cup of the tomato mixture and stir all together.

5. In a casserole dish, pour all the tomato mixture into the bottom. On top of the tomato mixture, add in half the beet greens. Layer on zucchini slices, then cover with half the cashew cheese - I just sort of dolloped and spread it on each zucchini slices. On top of the zucchini, layer on half the beet/tomato/chickpea mixture, followed by the remaining beet greens, then the last layer of zucchini, then the cheese, and finally the remaining tomato mixture.

6. Cook for 40 minutes and let cool for 10. Garnish with green onions.

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