Hello whole foodies!

By TONI CHER GERDELAN 29/03/16

I know the purists amongst you may say “no pasta, not lasagna” but I disagree. My vibrant plant-based version of this old childhood favourite is bursting with nutrients and flavour.

This is not the kind of meal you would knock up for the family on a week night unless you feel like spending an hour or 2 in the kitchen after work. You could, however take a couple of short cuts such as using a good quality additive-free organic tomato pasta sauce and store bought cashew cheese if you wish. After an Easter break full of socialising, bush walks and  trips to the beach, I had a lovely free afternoon on Easter Monday to spend in the kitchen. Cooking is so much more fun on holidays and weekends, isn’t it? (:

VEGAN ZUCCHINI LASAGNA with BASIL CASHEW CHEESE

lasagna

Gluten free, Dairy free, Sugar free, Vegan & Paleo-friendly

INGREDIENTS

4 large zucchini

2 eggplants

2 red capsicum/peppers

3 cups mushrooms

10 roma tomatoes

500g organic frozen spinach, defrost in sieve or collander

1 onion

4 garlic cloves

1 bunch of basil

juice of 1 lemon

black pepper

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 cup almond milk (or water)

4 cups of raw cashews, soaked in filtered water for 2-4 hours

1 cup grated vegan cheese (i used BioCheese, a coconut oil product)

2 tbsp coconut or macadamia oil

sea salt

 

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F . Place the capsicums on a baking tray. Roast, turning occasionally, until the skin is charred and blistered.
  • Transfer the capsicums to a sealable plastic bag. Set aside for 10 minutes. The steam will allow the skin to lift off
  • Peel the skin and discard. Don’t rinse the flesh, set aside.
  • Halve tomatoes and quarter onion and roast in the oven for 45-60 minutes on 150°C/300°F
  • Place unpeeled garlic cloves into the oven with the tomatoes and onion, removing after 30 minutes when soft, set aside to cool. Once cool slice off ends and squeeze out garlic paste to use in sauce*
  • While the tomatoes are roasting, slice zucchini lengthways with knife or mandolin, place on cooling racks or clean tea towels & sprinkle liberally with salt. (Warning this can take up a fair bit of bench space) Leave for 20 minutes and rinse off salt, then dry. This is quite an important step as you don’t want a soggy, watery lasagna.
  • Slice eggplants lengthways (approx 1/2 cm in width) and roast on BBQ grill for approximately 3 -4 minutes each side. Alternatively you could do this under the grill in your oven. (This can be done beforehand if you wish, or maybe you could get a helper)
  • Slice mushrooms and sautee in 2 batches using 1 tbsp of coconut/macadamia oil for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Place on kitchen towel to absorb excess moisture.
  • Squeeze excess water from frozen spinach
  • Place capsicums, tomatoes, onion into blender with a cup of water, salt & pepper and blend til desired consistency. Pour into bowl or jug for later use. Rinse blender
  • Rinse cashews and place in blender with almond milk, basil leaves (keep a few aside to place on top before serving) , apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, lemon juice & garlic paste*. Blend until creamy texture of ricotta cheese, meaning slightly chunky as opposed to silky smooth.

ASSEMBLY

  • Using a baking dish of approximately 30 x 24 cm, start to assemble your lasagna
  • Spread a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom (approximately 1/4 of total sauce);
  • Next layer the zucchini slices slightly overlapping;
  • Spread a layer of basil cashew cheese (approximately 1/3 of total cashew cheese)
  • And then a layer of eggplant slices;
  • Another layer of tomato sauce;
  • Layer mushroom slices and then place spinach on top of mushrooms;
  • A mixed layer of zucchini and eggplant slices;
  • Followed by another layer of basil cashew cheese;
  • Another layer of tomato sauce;
  • Then a layer of zucchini;
  • And then basil cashew cheese;
  • Last layer of tomato sauce;
  • And a final layer of zucchini
  • Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake in moderate oven 180°C/350°F for 45 minutes
  • Remove foil and sprinkle grated vegan cheese on top and flash under grill until cheese is melted
  • Sprinkle remaining basil leaves on top
  • Allow lasagna to cool for 10 minutes before serving

Enjoy! Please let me know what you think in the comments below (:

Toni x