Saturday, March 29, 2014

creamy-dreamy vegan butternut lasagna

Press samples [Bobby Flay bakeware, Daiya, Beyond Meat]

vegan butternut lasagna – creamy, dreamy comfort food
I love-love-love lasagna. But since putting it together can be a time-sucker, I haven't made it in literally years. When I recently received a snazzy stoneware Bobby Flay lasagna pan to review [in red, my favorite color], plus care packages from Daiya and Beyond Meat, I felt doubly .... no, triply inspired to make – and eat lasagna. [That and I felt compelled to load to use up the last CSA share butternut squash that had been collecting dust on my counter since November.]

My Lasagna Philosophy

The Bobby Flay pan made for a pretty presentation
First, the philosophy behind my vegan lasagna recipe. [I'll post the pan review in another day or so.] If you are the kind of person who likes to make every blessed thing you consume from nuts, whole grains and fresh vegetables, you may want to skip this post. Following my 80-20 rule, 80% of what I consume is made from 100% whole foods. But I have a life including a stressful job. I get up at the crack of dawn to train for my running races. And I have a boyfriend, friends and kitties whom I want to spend time with. [And I do like to watch "Rehab Addict" in between all that.]

For this reason, my new lasagna recipe falls into the 20% category. It's still totally healthy – and cholesterol-free. But it's made using some store-bought, albeit relatively healthy time savers. If you are disappointed that my lasagna recipe does not include home-made, gluten-free pasta, artisan, scratch-made vegan cheese and garden-to-pot tomato sauce, I'm sorry. I'd rather spend those 16 hours with my loved ones.

This lasagna was gone in 3 days.
Being lazy pressed for time, I prefer using no-boil noodles but you're welcome to boil yours if you prefer. I also used Daiya Mozzarella Shreds, my favorite brand, and a packet of Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles. I love their pea-protein based No Chicken Strips so I was beyond excited [yuk-yuk] when they sent me the ground beef crumbles to try. The texture turned out to be perfect for lasagna.

Lasagna just before going into the oven
I'm so pleased with the way this lasagna turned out; I made it during another ubiquitous cold snap and it was just what the doctor ordered. The sweet butternut squash compliments the crumbles and tomato sauce, and the tofu ricotta and Daiya cheese topping add that necessary creamy comfort. It's one of those "fool the omnivore" recipes. Even though I used store-bought shortcuts, this recipe still takes time. But trust me, it's worth the effort. Lasagna is now officially back on my weekend cooking rotation. I suggest roasting the squash and making the ricotta cheese a day or two before hand to make this easier to manage. Or making a double batch and freezing the extra

Lasagna after baking – creamy, decadent and warming

Vegan Butternut Lasagna

Tofu-Butternut Ricotta
  • 1 medium butternut squash, sliced in half and deseeded
  • 3/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 14 - 16 oz extra-firm, organic, non-GMO tofu [Squeeze out extra water gently with your hands]
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 
  • 1 1/2 T dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt [Consider using less if your tomato sauce, below, contains a lot of sodium]
  • Black pepper to taste

Quickie Tomato Sauce
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 5-7 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • Up to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes [optional]
  • 28 oz can tomato puree or sauce
  • 5 baby carrots or 1 whole carrot, cut into a few pieces
  • 2 T dried Italian seasonings of your choice [eg, basil, oregano, parsley, thyme]
  • 3/4 to 1 cup vegetable broth, divided [I recommend Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base
Other Ingredients
  • 1 box lasagna noodles, preferably no-boil 
  • 1 to 2 cups Daiya Mozzarella Shreds, or your favorite vegan mozzarella
  • 12-ounce bag of Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles, or your favorite alternative
Serves 8 hungry people or 10 bird-like eaters

Yes, it's plant-based

Make tofu-butternut ricotta: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking oil, Lay 2 halves of squash on sheet orange side down and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until soft, Let cool, then use a spoon to scoop out the squash into a large glass bowl. Add remaining ingredients, then using a heavy fork, crumble everything together. Set aside. 

Lower oven to 375 degrees.

Make quickie tomato sauce: Heat oil in a large sauce pan. Add onion, garlic and pepper flakes, if using, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes, Add remaining ingredients and about 1/2 of the broth. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes. Add remaining broth as needed. Test thickness and flavor; adjust seasonings. Cook up to another 30 minutes, covered until sauce is relatively smooth. [Eat the carrots: they're the cook's reward.]

Assemble lasagna: Spray a 9 x 13 lasagna pan with oil. Ladle some sauce on the bottom of the pan. Place a layer of noodles on top, followed by a sprinkling of crumbles. Spread some of the tofu-butternut ricotta atop this, then seal it with another layer of noodles: sauce/noodles/crumbles/tofu ricotta. Repeat this process until all ingredients are used up, ending with a layer of noodles, and leaving enough sauce to cover the top. Sprinkle with vegan mozzarella, cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes.

Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Buon appetito!


Joey said...

I very much understand your position on lasagne - I love it too, but so rarely make it because I don't have the time. If that means using a few shortcuts to get it on the plate, I'm all for it!

Andrea said...

This sounds great, if not exactly "quick." Lasagna, in my experience, is never quick enough for me, but every so often it's worth the trouble for the enjoyment factor. After reading your post, I'm now forced to go get something to eat, and to save the recipe for later.

JL Fields said...

Oh, Dynise, this has my stomach rumbling with hunger! I wish I could eat it right now.

Cheryl said...

Stomach going into overtime growling here! That looks amazing.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

This looks dreamy, Dynise!

Anna said...

Just made this tonight - delicious. And it fooled my carnivorous family. Thanks for sharing!

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Anna, comments like yours make me so happy and truly are what keep me going! Glad everyone liked it.

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