Vegan Spasagna

In my family its a tradition that on your birthday you get to go to the restaurant of choice. I think this ‘tradition’ has been around since we were old enough to pick somewhere other than McDonad’s or Pizza Hut. When I was younger I always wanted to go to Cheddars. Its your standard American chain restaurant with huge portions and a dessert called the ‘cookie monster’ which was a chocolate chip cookie baked in an iron skillet, topped with ice cream and eaten until you burst. But thats another post. Today is about the Spasagna. This was always my favorite. Maybe just because of the name.

My theme so far this month has been comfort like food. Hot, easy, really filling stuff. We have a white board in our house with ideas for meals and I added spasagna yesterday and its already been made. It called to me. So did the pound of opened angel hair pasta in the cupboard. This was really easy and very well received by the rest of the occupants of the blue house (I even got the highest compliment, a “better than mom’s”). This uses the cashew ricotta from Veganomicon, so if for some reason you don’t have this vegan cooking bible ride out into any unsavory weather and get it.

Vegan SpasagnaI sauteed some greens and red bell pepper to mix with the white sauce but any veggies would work (or none at all). Next time I want to try mushrooms.

Spasagna

1 lb. long pasta – spaghetti or angel hair

1/2 lb. greens, deribbed and chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 recipe cashew ricotta from Veganomicon

(When making the ricotta add 3 tbsp. nutritional yeast, 1/3 c. soy milk and 3/4 tsp. arrowroot)

1 lg. can or jar of tomato sauce or 4 c. homemade sauce

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray or oil a 9×13 pan. Cook pasta according to directions, when done rinse briefly with cold water. Begin sauteing vegetables in a little oil. Make cashew ricotta. Once veggies are soft take off heat and cool slightly before adding the ricotta. Mix together pasta and cream sauce, make sure to use a big bowl or pot. Spread half the tomato sauce in the bottom of the prepared pan. Top with all the pasta mixture. Pour the rest of the tomato sauce on top and bake for 30-40 minutes, until hot. Allow to rest for 10 minutes so everything can set.

Moussaka

It may sound weird on the tongue, but it tastes just fine. Most traditional moussaka has lamb and cheese and all that jazz. But vegan moussaka doesn’t need all that malarkey. I had an eggplant that needed using and I didn’t want to go the curry route. I’ve made the Veganomicon moussaka before and its damn tasty. Trouble was I didn’t have all the ingredients. So I improvised and created an incredibly untraditional recipe. This is based off the VCon recipe which you can find in the book, or if you’re a broke college student its floating around the interwebs. In which case you should ask for it at the next appropriate holiday.

Moose Kaka? No, no – Moussaka 

1 eggplant, ends trimmed and sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch sheets

1 zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch sheets

1 sweet potato, you get the picture – trimmed and sliced

Oil

Sauce

1 28 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes (I used diced tomatoes, but sauce would save a step)

1 tsp. granulated garlic

1 tsp. granulated onion

1 tsp. each dried thyme, oregano, rosemary

Salt and pepper

Nut Cream

1 lb. silken tofu

2/3 c. almonds or walnuts (I used a mix of both)

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 rounded teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 tsp. granulated garlic

Pinch of mace

Salt and pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Oil some sheet pans and arrange the sliced veggies on them. Roast 15 minutes for the zucchini and eggplant, and 20 minutes for the sweet potato.

Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a pot. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

While the veggies are roasting and the sauce a’simmerin’ you can make the nut cream (terrible name but I don’t know what else to call it, maybe walnut ricotta). Pulse the nuts until evenly chopped. Add the lemon juice and grind to a paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl every once in a while. Add the rest of the cream/ricotta ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust the salt and seasonings if you need too. 

At this point the veggies should be nearing done and the sauce is ready. Turn off the stove, turn down the oven to 350ºF and take the veggies out. Let them begin to cool either on the pan or if you have limited space (such as myself) put them on a plate and out of the way. If you used tomato sauce kudos to you. If you used diced tomatoes then scrape the cream/ricotta into another dish and puree the tomato sauce. Now, assemble!

In a 9×13 pan layer a good 1/3 of the tomato sauce on the bottom. Now in goes a layer of eggplant then sweet potato. Another layer of tomato sauce and 1/3 to 1/2 the nut stuff. On goes the zucchini, the rest of the eggplant, rest of the tomato sauce, and the rest of the nut cream/ricotta.

The original recipe calls for putting this in for 35-40 minutes. I think mine was in for an hour, but thats because not all the dinner participants were there. I took mine out after an hour, let it cool, then popped it back in to warm it up later. I think this made it really nice. We all know lasagne is better the next day because its had time to set, same thing here. Don’t try to cut it up immediately out of the oven. Your patience will be rewarded. 

But no picture, you have to make it yourself. We ate it too quickly and the remains disappeared into a lunchbox.

This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of KarynMC.