I realize this is kind of a blasphemous statement for many, but I have never been a great fan of pasta. With cheese, without it, didn’t really matter. It was okay, but it had never been a go to or even a go between until I met Sandy. You can taste her deep and consuming passion for pasta in every bite of her pasta creations. As a stand alone, added to soup or in a cool summery salad, her admiration of pasta is as evident as a handful or parsley…you can taste it.
Lasagna is Sandy’s thing, maybe one of her favorite things. She labored over every step of this mammoth creation with the patience and creativity of a famous builder or sculptor.
When the lasagna came out of the oven to rest, the smells emanating from this layered beast were irresistible. Is that corn and cayenne I smell? Why does it look like she christened it with Parmesan cheese?
When she cut the lasagna into 6 of the most humongous pieces I have ever seen I knew we were in for some serious consumption. The serving sizes on the E2 plan are outrageous. They make my ex-Weight Watchers portion size mentality go bezerk with joy.
Vegetables of all colors and kinds were pouring out of the sides of this gargantuan hunk of lasagna. I could hardly photograph it without tearing into the model piece and asking for another. The first bite revealed the sweeetness of the potato and the heat from the cayenne. The corn was creamy and the kale gave each bite a bulky and nutty texture. Because she used silken tofu instead of a harder crumbled tofu it felt like melted cheese which was really, really satisfying.
This is the most exciting lasagna I have ever had. We could not stop talking about it how bountiful it was, right to the last piece. Our previous dabbling in vegan pasta bakes and lasagna included cheese substitutes or making tofu ricotta ahead of time and adding as its own layer. This was a new venture for us and we could not believe the taste-sensational results. Trust the recipe, it works.
Sandy mostly “halved” Rip’s original recipe and made a few other slight modifications, so we thought it would be easier to just post the version she prepared, rather than add parenthesis to each ingredient.
Labor of Love Lasagna
From the The Engine 2 Diet, Raise the Roof Sweet Potato-Vegetable Lasagna
and adapted by S. Boulton
2 tsp garlic powder
6 oz mushrooms sliced
1/4 head of broccoli, chopped
1 carrot cut into small slices
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 can corn, rinsed and drained or 1 cup frozen corn
1/2 pkg Silken Lite tofu
1 tbsp+ 1 tsp Bragg’s liquid aminos (my addition for the mushrooms and kale)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp ground rosemary
1 tsp crushed fennel seed (this was our addition)
1 jar E2 approved pasta sauce (low sodium, low fat, low sugar)
1 box whole grain lasagna noodles
4 cups kale, chopped and wilted (original recipe calls for 16 oz frozen spinach, but we were out of spinach. Kale was a wonderful replacement and did not taste notably different than had we used spinach)
1 sweet potato cooked and mashed
1/4 c raw cashews (blended to a powder in grinder or food processor)
1/4 c nutritional yeast, plus 1/8 c for sprinkling on top
Make it Happen:
Steam (or boil) and mash the sweet potatoes, mixing with the cayenne pepper and fennel and set aside.
Saute the mushrooms for about 3 minutes, until they begin to give up their liquid, add liquid aminos and 1 tsp of garlic powder, simmer another minute. Remove mushrooms with slotted spoon into a large bowl. Use the reserved mushroom liquid to saute the broccoli and carrots for 3 minutes and add the peppers and corn. Simmer for another 2 minutes. (add a little water if this mixture gets dry while simmering). Remove these vegetables and add to the bowl with the mushrooms. Use the saute pan (add a little more water) to lightly wilt the kale, use 1 tsp of liquid aminos for a gentle note. Set aside kale, do not add to other veggies. Drain the tofu, pat dry and break up directly into bowl with veggies.
Stir together the remaining dry seasonings in separate small bowl. (1 tsp garlic powder, oregano, basil, rosemary, cashew powder, 1/4 c nutritional yeast). Add this mixture to the veggies and tofu and stir all together.
Meanwhile, start boiling water and begin to place the lasagna noodles four at a time in the water. They take about 4 minutes to soften. Continue this for each layer.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spoon about 1/2 c of the pasta sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Layer the first 4 noodles. Top with the mashed sweet potato and then the kale. Add about 1/2 c of pasta sauce and put next layer of noodles. Spoon half of the veggie and tofu mixture onto this layer. Add another 1/2 c of pasta sauce and third layer of noodles. Spoon remaining veggie and tofu mixture and another 1/2 c of pasta sauce. Place fourth layer of noodles and spread remaining pasta sauce on top.
Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle the additional 2 tbsp of nutritional yeast on top, bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 12-15 minutes before serving.
This lasagna bewitched me. I have had it every breakfast and lunch since it came out of the oven. This meal will take longer to create than a black bean patty or stir fry, but it is undoubtedly worth every minute spent layering and sauteing.
Be ready for praise akin to winning Iron Chef, Top Chef and the Next Food Network Star all in the same evening.
Have a delicious day.
Tags: compassionate eating, dairy free, dairy free lasagna, dairy free recipes, Engine 2 Diet, going veg, plant based diet, plant strong, trying vegan, trying vegetarian, vegan, vegan challenge, vegan entree, vegan lasagna, vegan wannabe, vegetarian lasagna, vegetarian recipe, vegetarian transition, veggie lasagna