Monday, February 18, 2013
I rarely make lasagna but I recently had some leftover tomato sauce with onion and bell pepper, some bean-based cheezy sauce, and a few leftover vegetables from Chinese take-out. I wanted one dish to use up these various leftovers and came up with lasagna. I also wanted to use what I already had on hand in my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer without having to buy a lot of ingredients. The only thing I had to buy was the noodles. After picking some up from the store, here are the steps I took to transform the leftovers into a kick-ass hearty vegetable lasagna. (Don't worry, I'll include a recipe at the end!)
I added Italian herbs to the sauce as well as another can of tomatoes so I'd have enough. I simmered it briefly to help infuse the sauce with Italian flavor.
I rinsed the Chinese sauce off the vegetables (which included several pieces of broccoli, a handful of zucchini, a carrot slice, and a mushroom) while defrosting some frozen blanched broccoli raab. I didn't have any fresh mushrooms so I added hot water to a small bowl of dried mushrooms to rehydrate them. I thought about what vegetables I'd seen in other vegetable lasagnas and decided to add a grated carrot plus some minced fresh garlic.
I felt like this dish was going to need something else so I searched for vegan Parmesan "cheese" recipes. Most seem to be based on almonds. I'm out of almonds but I did have cashews and found a recipe to adapt to my needs.
The last problem was that I had no clue how to layer my ingredients because I can't even remember the last time I made lasagna. I looked online at various recipes and came up with what seemed like a reasonable plan. After assembling the lasagna, it had to cook and then we had to impatiently wait to cut it for dinner.
Oh. My. Goodness. It was wonderful! Very satisfying and very flavorful. The leftovers were just as good, or maybe even better, the next day. I, of course, sat right down and wrote out a recipe so that I can recreate this dish even when I don't have that particular combination of leftovers in the house. My amounts are pretty rough as my sense is that lasagna can be quite adaptable to whatever you've got. Try it and change it up however you'd like. It's worth the effort, although I do understand now why many people make a double batch and freeze half. It wouldn't be much more work to double the recipe and assemble two pans of lasagna. It sure would be great to be able to pull one from the freezer in the future to cook with no effort whatsoever!
Chile’s Vegetable Lasagna
3 - 4 cups Pasta Sauce
1 box Lasagna noodles
1 – 1 ½ cups Cheezy sauce
1 ½ - 2 cups Vegetable filling
1 cup Cashew Parmesan cheeze
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cook lasagna noodles to barely al dente. Drain. Place noodles flat on dish towels to dry.
Warm up sauces and filling if previously prepared.
Put a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a 13 x 9” pan.
Place a layer of noodles across the bottom of the pan. Slight overlapping is okay.
Spread half of the cheese sauce over the noodles.
Add half of the vegetable filling, spreading evenly.
Sprinkle with one-third of the cashew cheeze.
Cover with pasta sauce.
Repeat with another layer – as above - of noodles, cheese sauce, veggies, cashew cheeze and pasta sauce.
Top with the remaining noodles.
Pour a thick layer of pasta sauce over the noodles.
Sprinkle with the remaining cashew cheeze.
Cover and bake for 25 minutes. To cover, I lay a piece of parchment paper over the pan and then cover tightly with aluminum foil. The parchment paper keeps the foil from making contact with the food.
Uncover and bake another 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and let sit 30 minutes before cutting.
Here are the rough recipes I used as components for the lasagna.
Saute diced garlic, onion, and bell pepper until tender.
Add 1 large can (or 2 ½ cups) diced or whole tomatoes and one 15 oz can (1 ½ cups) tomato sauce. Season with Italian herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 20 minutes.
If sauce is too thin, thicken with flour and a little water.
Golden Cheeze Sauce
1 ½ cups cooked Great Northern beans (or 1 can, drained)
6 tbs nutritional yeast
1/3 cup roasted red pepper or pimiento pieces
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tbs low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp prepared mustard
½ tsp salt
Blend until smooth.
Cashew Parmesan Cheeze
1 cup raw cashews
2 tbs nutritional yeast
1 tsp minced dried onion
½ tsp salt
Pulse in blender or food processor until it is the consistency of Parmesan cheese. Do not over-blend or you will end up with cheezy-flavored cashew butter.
Greens (kale, broccoli raab, chard, mustard, or spinach)
Blanch or steam the greens, broccoli, and zucchini until just barely tender. Chop finely.
Grate the carrot raw.
Chop the mushrooms finely. (I used dried mushrooms that were first rehydrated in hot water.)
Mince the garlic.
Mix all the vegetables together well. Use the proportions you want.
Now assemble all these components into the tasty lasagna and eat up!