Cashew Ricotta Lasagna
Ok, I've had my eye on this lasagna recipe for a while. I wanted to make it for Vegan MoFo, but like a lot of recipes, I never got around to it during October but I finally made it yesterday.
I should note that imprecise recipes annoy me just a little and I'd usually pass up on a recipe that calls for "2-3 jars of sauce" - did you use 2 or 3? what size?? - but check out that original picture - it looked way too tasty to pass up. So I compared the ingredients with a lasagna recipe I've made a few times, and came up with a game plan concerning what tomato products I was going to use.
One thing I was really suspicious about, though, in the original recipe, was the pan size. 11 x 7 pan for all that food? You've got to be kidding me. I'm no great judge of volume, but, but - that's smaller than a sheet of paper?! I suspected there was no way all that food would even fit in my standard 9 x 13 pan. And I was right. I purchased a 10 x 14 deep dish pan - sadly, plentiful this time of year for turkeys and roasts - and even though I didn't use quite all the ingredients compared to the original, the new pan was full to the brim.
So, here's what I used. Please see notes, below, for future improvements.
Ingredients, cashew ricotta:
- 3/4 cup cashews
- 1 14oz tub extra-firm tofu
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
- ~ 1/2 tsp soy sauce
Instructions, cashew ricotta:
- Soak cashews (I used raw, unsalted cashews but roasted, unsalted would probably be good, too) - for an hour or two in cold water and drain. (I added this step because my food processor has problems and I was hoping it would do better with softer nuts).
- Blend ingredients in food processor, until smooth.
- Set aside.
Ingredients, other cheesey filling:
- 1/2 pound carrots, diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- ~ 2 tbsp dried parsley
- 1 8-oz container vegan cream cheese
- approx. 1/3 cup diced, reconstituted dried mushrooms and the approx. 1/2 cup water from reconstituting them (in place of vegetable broth, in original)
- 1 14-oz container extra-firm tofu
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg (argh, I forgot this. Will add next time!)
Instructions, other cheesey filling:
- Saute carrots and garlic in some olive oil for about 5 minutes or until tender. Add parsley, mushrooms and "mushroom-recon" water.
- Add remaining ingredients, crumbling tofu.
- Cook until cream cheese melts.
- Set aside.
- 8 oz spinach
- 12-14 lasagna noodles
- 1 25-oz jar pasta sauce (I used Roasted Garlic)
- 1 15-oz diced tomatoes (I used Fired Roasted tomatoes)
- 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
- optional - vegan shredded cheese to top
- Wilt spinach in microwave or on stove-top. Set aside.
- Combine all tomato ingredients. Set aside.
- Cook lasagna noodle until nearly done, remembering they will cook more in the oven. Rinse in cold water. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees (at some point during noodle-boiling stage).
- Spoon a small amount of tomato sauce into the bottom of a 10 x 14 inch (4 qt) casserole dish, to keep first layer of noodles from sticking.
- Start layering with noodles.
- Make sure each layer gets one of the cheeses and tomato sauce. I only added spinach to two layers. Top with noodles and repeat.
- End with noodles and pasta sauce and/or vegan shredded cheese, if using. (I used about half of a block of FYH mozaralla but I could have used more. I even tossed the shredded cheese with a little oil, but it did NOT melt, at all. Big disappointment. Oven must've needed to be hotter. It melts on pizza but that's baked at 450 degrees!)
- Bake at 375 degrees for about 1 hour, 1 hour 20 minutes. (Another draw back of a recipe calling for impossible amount of food to fit in a small pan - cooking times are likely to be off!)
Notes for next time:
- I could have used a little more veggies. I'll try to use the 16 ounces of spinace the recipe called for.
- I'll make up my half-pound of carrots with onions, carrots and fresh mushrooms. (Not half-pound, mind you. But about 2 cups' worth?)
- This could have been a little less-soupy. Next time, I will squeeze "other cheesey" tofu in a cheese cloth.
- I will use petite diced tomatoes next time, and drain them. I will probably use 2 jars of pasta sauce and 1 can of tomato sauce, plus the drained tomatoes, because I could have used a little more sauce - yes, while simultaneously needing to be less soupy. This is not a contradiction! =)
- I will plan to cook at 350, covered, for about an hour. Maybe uncovered, 375, for another 30 minutes (checking frequently.)
- I might also try 2 recipes of cashew ricotta and leave out the other cheesey tofu mixture. (Still using spinach and veggies, of course.)
- If I want *melted* cheese on top next time, I'll either go pick up some Daiya from Pangea or melt the FYH on the darn stovetop first, and pour on during last 15 minutes or so of baking.