Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Artichoke Spinach Lasagna & Italian Pizza "Cheese"
This was a family favorite, pre-vegan days.
I LOVE taking old vegetarian recipes and making them vegan.
A sister of mine once asked, "Are you SURE?? There is no meat in here?"
Yes, I am sure. And now it has no cheese, no dairy, and no oil.
All of my children gobble this up. Including my little picky Essie. This is one of her absolute favorite dishes.
And, have you had your salad today? Something I am learning with this salad-a-day challenge is that if I don't have my salad for lunch, before I eat my main cooked dish, I have little chance of getting in my salad for the day.
I have now missed two days of eating salad since starting on May 27. Each of those days I waited until after I had eaten a big, late lunch to panic about eating my salad. And each of those times I have been outside my own home -- unable to do anything about it. So, I am learning. Eat salad. Eat it early, and eat it first.
What have you learned about yourself with this salad challenge? I am interested to know.
And, on to the HOW of my favorite plant based lasagna.
Artichokes, onions, and spinach sauteed (in water) with Italian spices (including red pepper flakes) make up the meat replacement.
Mashed potatoes replace the cheese.
I know, it seems like there is no way it would ever work. But it does. Somehow it picks up the flavors, blends well, and adds smooth creaminess that can compete with dairy cheese.
The trick is, the potatoes have got to be really smooth and creamy. How do you get them that way? Cook them in boiling hot water until they fall apart when jabbed with a fork. Strain them immediately, they should be piping hot. AND, most importantly, RESERVE THE HOT POTATO WATER. See how hot this is? Steam coming off while it is being mashed.
Don't add anything to the potatoes until all the lumps are gone. Then, add some hot potato water, and then some soy or coconut milk to make it creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste, and VOILA! Fabulous mashed potatoes. If you add water or milk before the lumps have all been mashed out, you will get lumps in your mashed potatoes.
And if you just can't get past the idea of using mashed potatoes, you can use PIZZA CHEESE! (See below for recipe.)
This stuff is so good. It works well as a dip with crackers or bread, OR a great stuffing for a spinach Calzone.
For this lasagna recipe, I personally strongly prefer to use the mashed potatoes as they are lighter and the textures blend a little better. But use what sounds good to you. Or, if you really just can't make up your mind, you could make this recipe with the mashed potatoes AND the pizza cheese. I have done it before, you just need to increase the baking time by about 10 minutes.
Even if you don't make this as your cheese for the lasagna, I recommend you try it some time. Especially in a spinach calzone. YUMMY! Or even just as a dip.
Layer your ingredients: Marinara sauce, a third of the artichoke and spinach mixture, no-boil lasagna noodles (either white or brown rice noodles), and a third of the creamy mashed potatoes (or pizza cheese). Repeat layers again, until ingredients are used up, ending with spinach and artichoke mixture.
Cover with foil and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Then remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes.
Artichoke Spinach Lasagna
By Ashlee Crozier (with a little help from Allrecipes.com)
1 package uncooked, "no-boil" lasagna noodles
1/4 cup water
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (14.5 ounce) can vegetable broth
1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on how hot you like it)
1 (14 ounce) can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
10-16 ounce bag or box of frozen, coarsely chopped spinach
1 (28 ounce) jar tomato pasta sauce (marinara)
3-4 cups creamy mashed potatoes, or 2 cups pizza cheese, divided
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Heat a large cooking skillet to medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic for 3 minutes in 1/4 cup water, or until onion is tender-crisp. Stir in broth and seasonings; bring to a boil. Stir in artichoke hearts and spinach; reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes.
3. Spread 1/3 of the artichoke mixture in the bottom of the prepared baking dish; and layer a third of the marinara sauce over top of it. Top with 4 or more cooked noodles. Spread 1/3 of the mashed potatoes over the noodles. Don't worry if it gets a little messy and the layers start mixing together. Just do your best to make sure the noodles are completely covered with the wet ingredients so that they cook properly. Repeat layers 2 more times, ending with marinara sauce and artichoke mixture.
4. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Uncover, and bake 15 minutes more, or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
Serve, and Enjoy! I hope you love!
Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil “Cheese” (AKA Italian “Pizza Cheese”)
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for two hours or more
Juice of one lemon
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp white miso (optional)
4 sundried tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup basil
Throw nuts in a food processor and process the heck out of them! Then add salt, lemon juice and miso (if you’re using it). Scrape the sides of bowl and run your processor again, this time drizzling some water in. Keep doing this until the cheese reaches the consistency you like. Think "ricotta-texture." Then throw in your chopped sundried tomatoes and fresh basil and pulse to incorporate. Scrape into a bowl for dipping, spread into a spinach calzone, or layer it into Artichoke Spinach Lasagna.