“It’s what you choose….”
Last week, a woman starting walking across the space I was going to pull into at the grocery store parking lot. Having been raised to be both courteous and safe, I put my blinker on to let people behind me know what I was doing and then patiently waited for the woman to finish crossing. Just as she finished making her way across, a car came from the other direction and pulled into the spot, narrowly missing hitting the front fender of my car. As you can imagine, I was a bit perturbed, but the spot was taken, and I chose to believe that maybe the gentleman hadn’t seen me waiting for the spot. After all, no good would come of doing anything other than moving on.
As I put my car into drive and started to move forward, though, I noticed that several of the folks who had witnessed what happened were shaking their heads at the driver in the other car and giving me sympathetic looks, which seemed to annoy the gentleman based upon the look he had on his face. One man who had apparently been walking to his car, pointed to me, to himself, and then to a car in the next row to my right, as if to say that I should follow him and take his spot. I smiled at him and waved, “Thank you,” but indicated that I had seen a spot which was already open in the row to my left and would be taking that. He nodded at me, and we both continued on our paths.
We make decisions every day about how we are going to react to any given situation. Sometimes we act in manners which we may not want to admit in public to; other times we are proud of how we behaved. At times, life situations weight us down; at other times, we are able to rise above them. When it comes to food allergies, it is easy, I think, to sometimes be upset about the foods we can’t eat or the ways restaurants may not be accommodating or how extended families may forget that we can’t eat certain foods or about recipes which simply don’t work.
I had dinner with friends the other night, and we talked about my constant reworking of a vegan, gluten free lasagna recipe. For years I have been trying to figure out how to make nondairy cheese crust up the way that mozzarella does on top of a lasagna. It was so disappointing to bite into a lasagna and not have that crispy, gooey top layer. Another friend had recently used the word “bulldog-ish” to describe me. I’d choose tenacious, but either way, my tenacity finally paid off, and my friends told me I should write a cookbook. Since I don’t want to write a cookbook but have this blog, I’m going to share my recipe with you instead.
Vegan, Gluten Free Lasagna
8 oz vegan mozzarella (I use the Daiya brand)
4 oz vegan parmesan (I use the Follow Your Heart brand)
4 oz nutritional yeast (I use the Bragg brand)
finely chopped onions to taste
finely mince garlic to taste
herbs to taste (I use basil, oregano, and thyme)
2 to 3 tsp extra light olive oil
Filling (Homemade Vegan Ricotta):
8 oz extra firm tofu
herbs and seasonings to taste (I use black pepper, basil and oregano)
minced garlic to taste
chopped onions to taste
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp white miso paste
1/2 to 1 cup vegan mozzarella (depends on how “cheesy” you want the filling; I use the Daiya brand)
2 tbsp to 1/4 cup vegan parmesan (depends on how “cheesy” you want the filling; I use the Follow Your Heart brand)
one eggplant, finely diced
two zucchini, finely diced
one small jar roasted red peppers, finely chopped (depending on the brand, 8 to 12 oz size)
minced garlic to taste
chopped onions to taste
black pepper to taste
herbs to taste (I usually use oregano, basil and marjoram)
14 oz can petite diced tomatoes
8 oz of your favorite chorizo style vegan sausage (I usually just buy whatever is on sale)
two jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce, reserving about a cup for the bottom of your lasagna pan (24 oz size jars will usually do)
1 to 2 boxes of your favorite gluten free no boil lasagna noodles (how much you use depends on the size of your pan and number of layers you make; I usually use the Barilla brand oven ready gluten free noodles because they’re flat and smaller, so much easier to layer and use)
- Ready the topping by mixing the mozzarella, parmesan, nutritional yeast, onions, garlic and herbs together in a bowl. Add the olive oil and mix until all ingredients are sufficiently covered with the olive oil. Set aside.
- Ready the ricotta filling by pureeing in a blender or food processor the tofu, herbs and seasonings, garlic, onions, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and miso paste. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the mozzarella and parmesan. Set aside.
- Ready the tomato sauce by sauteing the eggplant and zucchini with a little bit of olive oil over medium-low heat. Just as they are softening add the roasted red peppers, garlic, onion, black pepper, and herbs. Cook for a minute and add the diced tomatoes. Let the mixture cook for several minutes until the tomato juice has evaporated. Turn off the heat and add the chorizo and the spaghetti sauce (minus the cup you are reserving).
- Preheat your oven to the temperature your no boil noodle package says it needs.
- In a large, deep pan, spread the reserved spaghetti sauce to completely cover the bottom of the pan. Lay down one layer of noodles. Completely cover every inch of the noodles with some of your tomato sauce.
- Lay down another set of noodles, going in a different direction from the previous layer of noodles and again, completely cover the noodles with some of your tomato sauce.
- Carefully drop spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture all around on top of the sauce and then spread the ricotta filling to cover the noodles. (If your pan isn’t deep but large in width, use all the ricotta in this layer. If your pan is deep and small in width, use half here and do another layer of noodles, sauce and ricotta before moving on to the next step.)
- Lay down another set of noodles, going in a different direction from the previous layer of noodles and again, completely cover the noodles with the rest of your tomato sauce. (If your pan isn’t deep but large in width, this will be your last layer of noodles. If your pan is deep and small in width, you may need to add another layer of noodles and sauce before moving on to the next step.)
- Sprinkle the mozzarella topping mixture over the top of the sauce to completely cover the noodles. Use all of the mixture.
- Cover the pan with two layers of aluminum foil. Be sure to spray or grease the first layer of foil before laying it down or your cheese will stick
- Bake the lasagna with the foil on for the time indicated on the pasta box. After the allotted time, regardless of what the box says, remove the foil and bake uncovered for another 10 to 20 minutes until the topping has bubbled up, browned and is crusty.
- Remove the lasagna from the oven and let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes before serving so it can set completely.