Yesterday was my birthday, and even though I had a busy day with lots of yoga classes to teach, I was in the mood to celebrate! Some years I'm not really in the groove, some years I am - and this year I am. So, I decided to make myself a giant lasagna. I really, really love lasagna. It's probably one of my favorite things in the whole world, but I don't make it all that often because it's a lot of work. Which means it's a perfect birthday splurge! Also, if I do say so myself, I make a damn good vegan lasagna. So, as my birthday present to you, I'm sharing my recipe with you! Go forth and lasagna!
The day before yesterday, I made a big double batch of Tofu Ricotta, a batch of cashew creme, and the tomato sauce. That made actual birthday-day work quick and not too much. Plus, Mr. Vegan Eats & Treats helped me in the kitchen, which is quite rare, and we had so much fun goofing off together while we assembled the lasagna. Here it is, all ready to go into the oven at the right time! I even have a pretty lasagna dish that Mr VE&T gave me a few years back!
Please forgive me for this blurry picture, but when this big beauty came out of the oven, we were all eager to dig in! In addition to Mr VE&T, we celebrated my birthday with my super love friend Jane and her great husband and their little cutie pie daughter. It was really great.
Jane and her family brought along this BIG and beautiful salad, all with food fresh from their amazing organic farm. So light and fresh and deeeelicious. It was a perfect compliment to the lasagna, too!
While we were in the kitchen making our lasagna, Mr VE&T also helped me make myself a birthday cake! After MUCH deliberation, I decided to make the Meyer Lemon Bundt Cake with Meyer Lemon Sauce from the Millenium Cookbook. Their recipe in the book is actually for 6 mini cakes, so I one-and-a-halved their recipe for my full-size bundt pan. I'd never made it before - but Hot Damn! didn't it just turn out perfectly??? I was quite delighted.
Here it is all dressed up and ready to be eaten... complete with Meyer Lemon Sauce drizzled all over it. So beautiful and... more importantly ... so super delicious. Moist, lemony, light, and positively perfect. I can't wait to make this cake again!
We had the cake with some amazing strawberry compote that Jane brought (with strawberries from their farm!), and pineapple-coconut ice cream... it was a perfect, fruity-fruity combo! And also, it was a perfect little birthday dinner... special and warm and fun and peaceful. Lucky me! To extend my birthday joy, now I will share with you, my beloved blog readers, my lasagna recipe:
Amey's Amazingly Yummy Vegan Lasagna
1 lb lasagna noodles
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 28-oz can tomato sauce
1-2 tsp olive oil for sauteeing
1 large onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1/4-1/2 tsp black pepper
Tofu Ricotta (recipe from Voluptuous Vegan):
1 lb. firm tofu
2 Tbsp good extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp salt
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tsp mellow miso paste
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
Cashew Creme (adapted from Veganomicon):
1/4 c. cashews, soaked in water for at least one hour, or overnight... the longer, the creamier)
1/2 lb silken tofu
4 1/2 tsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp arrowroot powder, or cornstarch
1 small clove of garlic
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
4 zucchini (not the humongous ones)
3 big batches of spinach
Let's Get Cookin':
You can make the tomato sauce, tofu ricotta, & cashew creme all the night before, if you want.
Also, first things first, get your cashews soaking for the cashew creme.
To prepare the tomato sauce:
In a large sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until they are translucent, approx 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 1-2 more minutes. Add all the spices and saute another minute or two. Now add the diced tomatoes and the tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
To prepare the Tofu Ricotta:
Crumble the tofu into a food processor. Add in the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, garlic, and miso. Process it all up until it's pretty smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Now add in the rosemary and pulse a few more times until it's all integrated. Scrape out into a bowl and set aside.
To prepare the Cashew Creme:
Add everything into the food processor (or blender) and blend it up until smooth. Scrape out the creme into a ziplock sandwich bag and set aside until you need it.
Cook your veggies:
Slice your zukes and carrots into thin little rounds (maybe 1/8"). This is an excellent opportunity to use your mandoline, if you have one. Then, heat the oil in a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrots first, and stir occasionally. After about 5 minutes, add in the zukes, and continue to saute until they are nicely softened, but not overly browned, about 10-15 more minutes. You can't really screw it up. Don't worry. Once they're ready, remove from heat and set aside.
If you can multi-task in the kitchen, you can wash your spinach while keeping an eye on the zukes and carrots. All the spinach needs to be really well washed. Then toss the leaves into a big skillet or soup and cook until truly wilted. Squeeze off any & all excess liquid, or else you will have a watery lasagna experience and you will be sad. Set aside your cooked-down spinach.
Cook your noodles! Until soft, but still firm. Basically, follow the directions on your lasagna noodle box.
Preheat your oven to 400 F. Now, you are officially ready to assemble your lasagna. I like to be very orderly about this affair and have everything laid out in one place on the counter top.
1. Put a little tomato sauce in the bottom of your dish
2. Lay down a layer of lasagna noodles
3. Take out 1/3 of the tofu ricotta and crumble/spread it all over the noodles. (I use my fingers... but wash your hands first, kiddos!)
4. Lay on half the zuke-carrot mix.
5. Lay on half the spinach.
6. Spread on some more tomato sauce.
7. Repeat steps 2-6 (noodles-ricotta, zuke-carrot, spinach, tomato sauce)
Be sure to save enough tomato sauce for the top!
8. Lay on another level of lasagna noodles.
9. Spread on the final 1/3 of the tofu ricotta
10. Spread on the rest of the tomato sauce.
11. Get your baggie of Cashew Creme and cut a smallish piece off one of the corners of the plastic baggie. Pipe the cashew creme all over the top of the lasagna.
Now, you are almost there! Pop your beautiful lasagna creation in the hot oven for 45 minutes - 1 hour. Personally, I like it a little crispy, so I leave it in a little closer to 1 hour. Take it out, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before you cut it open. Eat, enjoy, be a lasagna piggy.
Happy Lasagna to You!