Before you completely ignore this post because you saw the scary “t” word, hear me out! The vegan cooking experience is new to me. As I have mentioned in previous posts my husband and I are participating in the Engine 2 Diet – 28 Day Challenge. During this challenge we have had to try new ingredients so we do not end up eating salad, rice and beans for 28 days. These new ingredients include tofu. I am not a huge fan of tofu, but it doesn’t scare me like some people who shall remain nameless. My mother-in-law was coming over for dinner and I wanted to make a meal that would provide leftovers for my husband’s lunch. This recipe made enough for dinner for four plus a couple of lunches!
The flavor and texture of the “ricotta” mixture could fool anyone and we did not even miss the cheese!
To all the meat and cheese lovers: If you are brave enough to try this recipe, you will not be disappointed!
Photo: The Vegan Table
8 to 10
1/2 to 1 pound (225 to 455 g) lasagna noodles
2 packages (10 ounces, or 280 g, each) frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 package (16 ounces, or 455 g) firm tofu (not silken)
1 tablespoon (13 g) granulated sugar (optional)
1/4 cup (60 ml) nondairy milk (such as rice, oat, soy, almond, or hazelnut), or as needed
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 peeled garlic cloves
Juice from 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons [30 ml])
2 tablespoons (5 g) minced fresh basil (about 20 leaves)
1 teaspoon (6 g) salt (or to taste)
4 to 6 cups (980 to 1470 g) tomato or pasta sauce of your choice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; (180 degrees C, or gas mark 4).
Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions or use “no-boil” lasagna noodles. Drain and set aside.
Squeeze as much water from spinach as possible and set aside. (If using fresh spinach, blanch first.)
Place tofu, sugar (if using), milk, garlic powder, lemon juice, basil and salt in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. The tofu “ricotta” should be creamy but still have body.
Transfer to large-size bowl, and stir in spinach. Continue tasting until you get amount of salt just right.
Cover bottom of 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33 cm) baking dish with a thin layer of tomato sauce, then a layer of noodles (use about one-third of noodles). Follow with half the tofu filling. Continue in the same order, using half the remaining tomato sauce and noodles, and all remaining tofu filling. End with remaining noodles, covered by remaining tomato sauce. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until hot and bubbling.
SERVING SUGGESTIONS AND VARIATIONS
Add meatless meat crumbles to your tomato sauce for more texture and body. For more cheesiness, add shredded nondairy mozzarella cheese to each layer.
This recipe is also great for making stuffed shells. To do so, stuff pasta shells with the tofu ricotta from this recipe, place them in a baking dish, pour on tomato sauce and bake in a 350 degrees F (180 degrees C, or gas mark 4) oven for 20 to 30 minutes.
Excerpted from The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. © Fair Winds Press 2009