What could be better for Sunday dinner than lasagna? Lasagna is one of my favorite go-to meals for weekends and when asked to bring something to potluck dinners. Seriously, what is not to love about lasagna?
As I recently discovered, lasagna also makes for a pretty fabulous vegan main dish. When my gluten free, soy free, vegan son was visiting recently I needed to come up with a new type of lasagna for Sunday dinner.
I prepared both my typical meat and dairy filled recipe and this one and guess what? One for one everyone loved the vegan recipe as much as the traditional. The vegan recipe is different but different in a really delicious way.
To replace the ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses, I made a cashew cheese – something I have come to love even though I can eat dairy. And then to add a little more zing I blended in big handfuls of basil and some extra olive oil and the result was sort of like a pesto cheese – amazing! I love the stuff not just in this recipe but on baked potatoes, gluten free crackers, and pretty much anything else I can find to smear it on.
I think this recipe proves that all you really need to feed people with multiple food sensitivities is a little imagination. And maybe a good blender.
Recipe notes: For the cashew cheese I use organic, raw cashews and I let them soak overnight in filtered water. You can get away with less soaking if pressed for time. The shortest I have soaked my cashews is 2 hours. The longest I let them soak is 24 hours, after that they seem to get a little funky for my tastes. I used Pastariso organic brown rice lasagna noodles for the noodle layer and I picked an assortment of veggies our family loves. Feel free to come up with your own assortment if you like. The mushrooms and eggplant give the lasagna a “meaty” taste and texture which the carnivores in my family appreciate.
Gluten Free Vegan Lasagna Recipe
1½ cups raw, organic cashews
8 ounces organic brown rice lasagna noodles
3 tablespoons plus ¼ cup olive oil, divided use
1 white or yellow onion, diced
1 small eggplant, peeled and diced
1 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced – divided use
1 (28 ounce) can chopped tomatoes
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
1 cup fresh basil leaves
Place the cashews in a bowl and cover with filtered water. Let soak for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Drain and set aside.
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions. Drain, rinse with hot water, and drain again. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and gently stir to coat the noodles. Set aside.
In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, eggplants, mushrooms, and red peppers. Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until they soften, brown, and any juices that the vegetables have released are cooked off, about 15 minutes. Add 2 garlic cloves and cook for 30 seconds. Lower the heat to medium, add the tomatoes, including the juice, 1 teaspoon salt, black pepper, the red pepper flakes, dried basil and oregano and cook until most of the tomato liquid has reduced and the mixture is thick and cooked through, about 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place the soaked cashews in a blender with about 1/3 cup water, the remaining 2 garlic cloves, lemon juice, and the nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender as needed. If needed, add more water, a little at a time. Remove half the mixture and reserve. To the remaining cashew cheese add the fresh basil and remaining ¼ cup of olive oil and blend until smooth.
Ladle a little of the liquid from the tomato vegetable mixture on the bottom of a 9 by 12 inch baking dish then layer in half the lasagna noodles. Add half of the remaining tomato vegetable mixture and top with the basil cashew cheese. Layer on the remaining lasagna noodles, the rest of the tomato vegetable mixture and then drizzle the top with the reserved cashew cheese. Bake uncovered until hot and bubbly, 30 – 40 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and serve.
A gluten free recipe that serves 8 – 10
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