Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fresh Tomato Lasagna

Usually the problem with lasagna - aside from the fact that it can contain many, separate layers to prepare - is that it feeds a whole crowd. This lasagna, despite taking a bit of time, is surprisingly uncomplicated, and makes a perfect dinner for 4, with no leftovers!

The sauce is made out of slow-simmered fresh tomatoes (which is obvious from the title I guess), but first you have to peel them. The trick to peeling tomatoes is to cut an X in the bottom of each, then drop them in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Immediately plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process - and the skins will slip right off! So chop 3 and 1/2 cups worth of peeled tomato and set aside.

Heat a teaspoon and a half of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup chopped onion and 2 minced garlic cloves. Cook until tender - the original recipe said 10 minutes, but I stopped at 7 minutes because I realized my onions were beginning to brown. Add the chopped tomato and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for an hour and 20 minutes, stirring occasionally - the mixture will be slightly thickened by the end. Remove from heat and stir in 1/3 cup sliced basil, 1/4 tsp. salt and a dash of black pepper.

Towards about the hour mark of the cooking time on the sauce, cook 4 lasagna noodles according to package directions. I used the lasagna from Bionaturae.

Around the same time, crumble firm tofu to equal 1 cup - this is now your stand-in for ricotta cheese in the recipe. Heat in a saucepan or skillet until warmed - this took just about 3 minutes over medium heat. Stir in 1/2 cup shredded vegan mozzarella (such as the one from Galaxy Foods), and stir until the 'cheese' melts. Add 1/4 tsp. salt and a dash of black pepper.

Now it's time to assemble it all! Spoon 1 cup of the tomato mixture into the bottom of an 8x8-inch baking dish. Layer 2 lasagna noodles on top of that. Spread the 'ricotta' mixture evenly over the noodles, and top with the remaining 2 noodles. Top with another cup of the tomato mixture.

(Confession: I actually messed up the layers here, putting the second round of tomato sauce before the second round of noodles - but heck, it's all ending up in the same place at the end of the day).

Sprinkle it all with 1/4 cup more shredded vegan cheese in place of Parmesan (I was still using Galaxy Foods' vegan mozzrella here). Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle the top with an additional teaspoon and a half of thinly sliced basil. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing into 4 servings - they are 290 calories each.

As a side note, I always used to spell it lasagne, and then suddenly thought that all my life I'd been making a mistake, since cooking magazines spell it lasagna. So tonight, I did a quick wiki search and turns out I wasn't wrong at all! Lasagne is simple the plural of lasagna. While it is generally spelled with an "a" in the U.S., other parts of the world (notably, ahem, Italy), refer to it as lasagne with an "e". There's your spelling lesson of the day.

tomato $7.00
basil $2.99
firm tofu $1.49
lasagna $4.39

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance