Now, on to the good stuff!
I've been on a lasagna kick of late. I often get in cycles with recipes and dishes, and I guess February was not just for Valentine's, but also for lasagna!
I think lasagna is one of those dishes that we feel as vegans that we have to "work at" to have it (1) taste great, and (2) hold together for serving! Phooey on that! Lasagna can be easy, and in fact for both of these dishes it became a quick go-to dish for me on busier weekdays. As for it staying together in layers, there are a couple of tricks... but even if it doesn't, do you really care? As I always say "is Martha coming for dinner?"
So, this first version of lasagna is with a 'bechamel sauce'of sorts, except that... here's the jewel... I didn't have to make the sauce!
I received a sample of Mimiccreme to test out, and I really, really liked it. I was immediately intrigued by this non-dairy substitute because it isn't soy-based, unlike the majority of non-dairy subs on the market. This is a nut-based (cashews and almonds) cream alternative. You can buy Mimiccreme at VeganEssentials, and I understand it might be available through Cosmos soon, as well as natural food stores. To make this lasagna, I chose whole-wheat noodles over the standard white flour variety. I used the unsweetened Mimiccreme (probably about 2/3 - 2/3 of the quart carton). To the creme, I added a clove or two of freshly grated garlic (using my rasp), and whisked in a tbsp or two of arrowroot (since I wasn't sure if it would thicken enough through cooking, and the arrowroot thickened it just enough). I layered the sauce with the noodles, along with some artichoke hearts, and then topped the lasagna with a little vegan cheese. But, you know, the sauce was creamy and rich enough that the cheese wasn't needed. Next time I'll use a sprinkle of breadcrumbs tossed with olive oil and salt to top the lasagna, just for that textural crunchy contrast! To sum up, I definitely thought that this unsweetened Mimiccreme is a terrific pantry staple for us vegans, and I plan to order some online myself to continue to experiment, and enjoy things like creamy fettucine 'alfredo', creamy mashed potatoes, sauces... and more!
Next up is a more traditional tomato-based lasagna. This was sooooo easy, and hearty and delicious. I wanted to add legumes to my lasagna, and was thinking of making my "Hide The Lentils Tomato Sauce" from ed&bv. But honestly, as easy as that recipe is, I didn't have it in me this day to open the can of tomatoes and make that sauce from scratch. You all know that feeling! So, I opened a jar of organic pasta sauce, threw it in a pot with about 1/2 cup of red lentils and a few splashes of water (to help the lentils soften), brought it to a boil, then let it simmer covered until the lentils were soft. I went about my business, did some laundry and tidying, and before I knew it (maybe 20 mins) the sauce was ready. I layered the lentil sauce with the noodles (see all those pretty lentils?!), and kept it as simple as that... no veggies in the lasagna, since I served it with a monster big salad! Not only was this simple, nutritious, and delicious, but the lentils helped give structure to the sauce to hold the portions together (no "slip-sliiiiiding away").
Try either of these lasagnas and you'll see for yourself just how effortless a vegan lasagna can be.
And, a few tips to keep your lasagna from slip-sliding:
1) Don't add too many water-rich veggies like raw mushrooms or zucchini between the layers. They'll release a lot of moisture through cooking, and make for a runny sauce. If you want to add veggies, cook them down first, either through sauteing or roasting, or use things like sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, and olives.
2) Use a thicker sauce, or as with my lasagna above, add some lentils to the sauce to thicken it. Don't water down your sauce or otherwise dilute it.
3) You can add some thick purees such as dips to spread on one or more layers in the centre to 'bind' the lasagna. Think of artichoke dip or even hummus... or my 'Rawesome Nut Dip' from ed&bv - this is excellent as a layer in lasagna, and I have a post coming up soon to show it to you!
Mamma mia! Go make some lasagna and eat, drink & be vegan!