I sometimes daydream of retiring and being the wife that has bread in the oven and a single malt ready to go for my good man (or more likely, some raw blueberry pancakes in the dehydrator and an elixir in the blender). However I'm not there yet and this month has been a hustle fest of excitement with work and life, which means less time for torrenting about in the kitchen.
Until this happened!
It's lasagna. Since I met my husband he's talked about how much he loves lasagna. Given that we're strict on our gluten-free life and he's strict about no dairy of any kind, whether it be goat, sheep, raw or what have you, that would pretty much leave a lasagna that is really a plate of sauce.
Though lasagna itself is technically a one-potter, and we all love a good One Pot Wonder, there are a few steps here and it is a little labour intensive. The final result is, however, very much worth it.
To keep the dairy out, I made a rich and creamy cashew ricotta. I used the Tinkyada gluten-free lasagna noodles and I used a simplified version of Grandma Meghan's Secret Tomato Sauce. If you wanted to make this grain-free, you could easily swap the noodles for wide, flat thin slices of zucchini or butternut squash sliced lengthwise with a vegetable peeler.
Here I've broken the recipe down for you.
Let's start with the Bolognese
Given the abundance of tomatoes at the markets these days, this is an awesome way to preserve the season's finest. You can make loads of straight tomato puree and jar that up, or double or triple a batch of this sauce to enjoy a hearty meal on a day when dinner prep just isn't going to happen.
Tomatoes are one of the few foods that have more nutrient availability after they are cooked or processed in some way (and by processed I don’t mean concentrated, mixed with sugar and called ketchup).
Now, most of us know that tomatoes are loaded with lycopene, an essential phytonutrient for keeping our prostates healthy. Since most of us over here don’t have prostates, we likely know men that do, and here are a few more tomato tidbits for you.
Health Benefits of Tomatoes
- Anti-oxidant: Loads of vitamins A and C, thanks to the beta-carotene. These vitamins act as anti-oxidants, working to neutralize free radicals.
- Blood Sugar Balance: Tomatoes have plenty of the mineral chromium, which helps get glucose into the cells and balance blood sugar levels - this is very helpful for those with hypoglycemic tendencies and diabetes.
- Vision: All that vitamin A helps improve your vision - night blindness anyone?
- Skin care: The high amounts of lycopene (found in many of those fancy shmancy skin care products) will help us out externally and keep our inside tissues healthy.
- Hair: Back to that vitamin A - it’s very good for keeping hair strong and shiny.
This recipe can be made using one pound of pastured ground beef, of if you kick it vegan, amp it up with your choice of 2 cups of aduki beans or chickpeas, or even some steamed and ground tempeh.
Yield: 6 servings
- 1 lb pastured beef or 2 cups cooked/rinsed adzuki beans/chickpeas, or 1 block of tempeh, ground
- 2 Tbsp ghee or olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 794g jar of crushed tomatoes or 10 roma tomatoes, pureed
- ½ cup of water
- 3 carrots, sliced in coins
- 1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
- 1 Tbsp dried basil or ¼ cup fresh, packed
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano or 2 Tbsp fresh
- salt to taste
- In a large sauce pan heat your oil and saute onions and garlic for about 5 minutes.
- Add tomato puree, water meat or beans, carrots, and mushrooms. Cover and simmer for 35- 50 minutes, until carrots are tender and sauce has a slight sweet taste.
- Summer uncover until desired thickness is achieved.
- Add basil, oregano, and salt.
- Adjust flavours as needed.
- Serve hot or allow to cool, transfer to jars leaving room for expansion, and freeze for later use.
Once your sauce is simmering, you can move on to begin prepping the rest of the recipe. Now is a good time to get your noodles cooking, too. Use the directions as outlined on the package.
Cashew Ricotta Cheese
The cheese was the biggest part of the experiment as I had no idea how it would bake up - both inside the lasagna and as the top layer. It turned out perfectly. It was creamy in the middle and just crispy enough as a top layer.
Yield: 2¼ cups
- 2 cups cashews, soaked
- 1Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup water
- ½ tsp sea salt
- Blend all ingredients in your high speed blender or food processor. Scrape down the sides as needed to get a smooth, but thick texture.
The assembly is the fun part of this project. Here's the lasagna pre-baked.And here it is all crispy and steamy from the oven.
Yield: 6-8 servings
- 1 package gluten-free lasagna noodles, cooked as directed*
- 2 cups Cashew Rictotta
- All of that awesome Bolognese you just made.
- Preheat oven to 350
- In an 12 x 8 baking dish, begin with an approximately 1 inch layer of sauce. Press sauce with back of spatula.
- Top the sauce with an even layer of noodles.*
- Over the noodles, spread a ¼ - ⅓ inch layer of the cashew cheese.
- Repeat steps 1-3, ending with a layer of cashew cheese.
- Place in oven and bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes, until the top is slightly browned.
- Remove and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
I'm kind of feeling like this was one of my most successful attempts to healthify a very classically indulgent recipe. I'd love to know if you give this one a try and how you find it!