|VEGAN RECIPE OF THE MONTH
Lasagna Marinara With Spinach
By Cari Newton
With Earth Day approaching next month, it is time to gear up to join the pursuit of making our Earth a cleaner, better place to live for all beings.
Though often overlooked, one small change you can make to make a huge impact is to eat less or no meat.
If you are new at it, participating in Meatless Mondays or eating a vegan diet on weekdays is a great way to start out. Every time we choose a plant-based meal, we are contributing to the efforts to conserve water, reduce pollution, protect oceans, end deforestation, and stop global warming.
If you are considering going vegan, find yourself an experienced vegan who is willing to be your “mentor” to help you figure it all out. Most vegan folks would be more than happy to be your guide! Their experience can provide great product, recipe, and restaurant recommendations.
This month’s vegan recipe, Lasagna Marinara with Spinach, comes from one of my favorite vegan cookbooks: Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero.
Lasagna Marinara with Spinach
Photo Credit: John Muggenborg
Double Recipe Marinara Sauce
Double Recipe Cashew Ricotta
1 lb lasagna noodles, cooked
2 lbs spinach or a mix of other greens (chard, dandelion, etc)
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 375° F. Have ready a 9×13 inch deep lasagna pan. Also have ready the prepared Marinara Sauce and Cashew Ricotta.
Wash the spinach well, drain, and place in a steamer basket in a large pot. Cover and steam for 8-10 minutes, until the spinach is wilted and a deep green. Uncover, remove from heat, allow spinach to cool. Squeeze handfuls of the spinach to remove the excess water and chop coarsely. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Ladle about ½ cup of sauce into the bottom of the lasagna pan and layer with 5-6 noodles. Add about half of the tofu ricotta, a layer of spinach, and 1/3 of the sauce. Add another layer of noodles, the rest of the ricotta, the remainder of the spinach, and another third of the sauce. Top with another layer of noodles and top with the remaining sauce.
Cover and bake for 30-35 minutes, then remove cover and bake for another 20 minutes until the sauce is bubbling. Allow to cool 10 minutes before slicing. Best served with additional marinara sauce.
2 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
¼ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp Salt
Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
Preheat a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the oil and garlic and sauté for about a minute, until fragrant, being careful not to let it burn. Add the remaining ingredients, cover, and raise the heat a bit to bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
½ cup raw cashew pieces (approx. 4 oz)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves fresh or roasted garlic
1 pound firm tofu, drained and crumbled
1-1/2 tsp dried basil
1-1/2 tsp salt
In a food processor, blend together the cashews, olive oil, and garlic until a thick creamy paste forms, add the crumbled tofu to the food processor, working in 2 or more batches, if necessary, until the mixture is thick and well blended. Blend in the basil and salt.
I usually make 4 or 5 times the Marinara sauce instead of double. We like to have a lot extra to ladle more sauce on top when serving the lasagna.
For the Cashew Ricotta, if you sub roasted salted cashews for raw, you may need to adjust and add less salt.
This recipe also calls for a double layer of aluminum foil to place over the lasagna for the first round of covered baking. In place of the foil, I either place a baking sheet over top of the lasagna or put a generous amount of sauce so the top noodles won’t get dry.
I recently used Swiss chard in place of spinach, and it was amazing! (Wash, dry, and cut leaves from stems. Chop stems and add to a heated sauté pan with a little olive oil on medium heat. Cook stems for 2-3 minutes while chopping the remainder of the chard leaves. Add leaves once the stems soften and cook till wilted. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and add in place of the spinach.)
I sometimes crumble and brown up a brick of vegan Beyond Beef to add in a layer of the lasagna. (one layer of Beyond and one layer of spinach) Sauteed mushrooms, Gardein crumbles, Boca Crumbles, seasoned lentils, are other good additions here.
I enjoy a little sprinkle of vegan parm cheese on top when serving. Violife, Forager, Follow Your Heart, & Whole Foods 365 Brand are all good options. A sprinkling of fresh parsley or basil is a nice garnish as well.
Biggest tip: I put the cashew ricotta in a big pastry bag with a big flat 2” wide pastry tip. Makes assembling the lasagna a BREEZE!
This recipe freezes well, so I usually make 2 batches and freeze one lasagna after assembly, but before baking for an easy dinner later.