Thursday, March 17, 2011

vegan spinach lasagna

Let me start off by saying two things:

Numero Uno: I like lasagna with a few layers. Not just two really thick layers that collapse and fall apart all over the spatula, and then your plate. It should hold up and be pretty, kind of like a layered cake. Something that takes this much time to prepare shouldn't look like a Rorschach sketch once it is served. All it takes is using a more shallow dish; buying some extra noodz and making the filling a little thinner between the layers.

Dos: Someone needs to make the perfect vegan ricotta. I am so sick of trying to do it, and I think everyone else is as well. Oh shit. This is by far my best incarnation by far. At least as far as pasta goes. Damn, I want to just eat this on crostini. It happens to be thick and slightly difficult to work with (especially with lasagna), but trust me; it will not make your lasagna soggy. Actually, its kinda way better than actual ricotta.

Ok, let's get down to business. Please note we are using a large Pyrex baking dish, not the 9x9 square one, so if you are, well; ummmm, do the same thing we did. I had leftover noodles anyway. I just ate them while cooking.

2 10 oz. packages of whole grain Lasagna Noodles
1 pound frozen Spinach
1 medium Onion, diced
1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp. Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. Safflower Oil
1/2 tsp. Red Chili Flakes
1 jar of Pasta Sauce (we used a jar of amazing sauce canned last Summer by my main man Sean Ulrich). Or you can make your own. We have a lot of recipes for that down the blog...

1 pound Extra Firm Tofu
1 pound Soft Tofu
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp. Dried Oregano
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast
Salt and Pepper to taste

Start your pasta water to boil. It is best to use 2 pots if you can. Lasagna noodles are so big and cumbersome. If you don't have two big pots, then do it in shifts.

Heat a saute' pan on medium heat. Add the safflower oil, and onion. Saute' until translucent. (You know the drill). Add the garlic, chili flakes and lemon juice. Toss the spinach in there and cover with a lid. Turn the heat to low.

In your food processor put all off the cheeze ingredients. Pulse a couple of times to the beat of whatever music you are listening to, and then just pop it on low and let it ride until smooth. Think "hummus" for the texture you are looking for. If you need more liquid you can add pasta water, just do it 1/4 cup at a time.

Stir your spinach every few minutes so that it gets evenly cooked, and keep an eye on your pasta.

Once the spinach is cooked and the pasta is done it is time to assemble. Preheat your oven to 350 and get ready to rock! I always start with a little sauce on the bottom so the noodles don't stick to the pan. Then I layer noodles, and then... I am sure you have done this before, so go for it. If you haven't, look at the close up picture below for details. When you have finished building your masterpiece, cover the pan with foil, making sure that the foil is not resting on the top of the lasagna. Make a little tent with the foil. Now bake it in the oven for 40-45 minutes. As tempting as it will be to eat it as soon as it comes out of the oven, wait about 7-10 minutes for it to set before serving, it will make it far less messy and lead to less clean up later.

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