Hello hello hello! It’s Vegan MoFo (still) and although I don’t possess either the time, stomach capacity or financial means to try something new every day of this month, I am trying to post something new every week. Here is what came into my head yesterday. I was initially planning to just do a ratatouille, but then decided that I haven’t done a baked dish in a long time, and it being all autumn-like in the Old Pueblo of late, I decided to make a lasagna. That and the fact that vegan ricotta is fantastic!! Trust me. If you don’t believe me, try this recipe. I believe ricotta was meant to be made with tofu – and this coming from a person who used to eat ricotta straight out of the container!!
What makes this lasagna special, is that it’s also gluten-free! Although technically, it’s more of a layered pasta bake, than a lasagna in terms of construction, it stills hit’s the same spot, is delicious and healthy.
1 eggplant, sliced into 1/4 slices
4 Tbs rice or soy flour
4 Tbs flax meal
1/2 tsp salt + more for “sweating” eggplant
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 C unsweetened soymilk
2 Tbs olive oil
1 package firm tofu, pressed
2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 C nutritional yeast
15 fresh basil leaves
black pepper to taste
(Recipe for Vegan Basil Ricotta adapted from recipe posted by Isa on www.theppk.com. Thank you!)
1/4 package Brown rice pasta, cooked al dente
tomato sauce for serving (I used D’s Delightful Tomato Sauce.)
Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt and them sit until you notice beads of moisture on their surface. Pat the moisture off with a paper towel, flip over to the other side and repeat the process. If you let the eggplant “sweat” around 30 minutes total, the cooked slices will be soft and almost sweet. This is great, especially when using larger eggplant, as they can be rather bitter. After you have patted off all the “sweated” juice, rinse the eggplant slices on each side with water, to remove excess salt. If you forget to do this, the end result might not be palatable.
While you are waiting for the eggplant slices to do their thing, prepare the “breading”. I have found it very difficult to “bread” things in a vegan and gluten-free fashion as, from my experience, the most successful breadings happen with the use of a beaten egg and/or milk and bread crumbs/flour. Since all of those things are omitted in my diet, I have suffered through many a soggy or detached breading. The one I have used in this recipe had fantastic results, and the flax meal adds a nutty and rich flavor that greatly compliments the eggplant.
The preparations of the breading is simple – simply place all the dry ingredients (soy/rice flour, flax meal, spices) in a Ziploc baggie and shake – in the style of good old fashioned shake’n’bake. Pour the soymilk into a saucer or into a bowl. Dip the eggplant slice first in the soymilk to coat, then shake it around in the Ziploc breading baggie until it’s coated. Set aside and continue until all the pieces are covered.
Heat a cast-iron skillet with 2 Tbs of olive oil. Saute the eggplant on each side until nicely browned. Set aside.
Prepare the tofu ricotta. Crumble the pressed firm tofu into a bowl. Add the vinegar, olive oil, nutritional yeast, garlic, basil and spices and mix.
Fold in the drained al dente brown rice pasta.
Assemble the lasagna, by layering the bottom on a square casserole dish with eggplant. Cover than with the tofu ricotta and pasta filling and cover with another layer of eggplant. If you have enough eggplant slices, do another layer of eggplant in the middle.
Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.
Serve with tomato sauce on top.
*** Note: In the future, I would like to try to bake the lasagna with the tomato sauce inside and to try using gluten-free lasagna noodles. But no worries – I will be sure to post the results!!!