Sunday, September 9, 2012

Spinach Lover's Lasagna


Hello Loyal Readers!  After nearly 10 months of avidly following Dinner Is Vegan, you surely know and adore Carol's affable prose and are presumably familiar with Simon's guest posts (spicy corn pakoras, anyone?).  However, I have no doubt that you've all been wondering for ages about this mysterious third roommate, the other half of the non-vegan contingent of the apartment.  Time for the big reveal!  I, Rachel, took the lead on making tonight's culinary creation, and am writing my inaugural guest post about our wonderful Spinach Lover's Lasagna.  In addition to being loaded with vitamins and calcium, this delightful iron-rich entree also gives you big Popeye muscles.

Thar she blows.
A single serving.

Recipe:     
Spinach Lover's Lasagna
  • 1 pound lasagna noodles
  • 2 packages (10 oz each) frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 - 16 ounce package lite firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4.5 cups tomato sauce


First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and set on a large pot of water to prep your lasagna noodles.  Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions, drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, thaw your frozen spinach in the microwave.  I recommend breaking up the icy chunks with a knife / fist to facilitate the thawing.  In the end, ours took about 15 minutes to thaw on the defrost setting, much to Carol's chagrin.  By the end, there should be no ice crystals remaining, and squeeze all excess water out of the spinach.  I literally grabbed hunks of it in my hand and squeezed over the sink.  Set aside in a large bowl.

Get out your trusty food processor.  Place pressed tofu (I recommend cutting into large chunks instead of cramming the whole block in there), sugar, milk, garlic powder, lemon juice, basil, and salt in the processor and blend until smooth.  The mixture should be creamy but not liquidy.  It really does look and feel like ricotta cheese.

Put the tofu and seasoning mixture into the big bowl with your squeeze-drained spinach.  Combine thoroughly.  At this point you could add some more salt if you like but I found that the 1 teaspoon I added to the blended mixture was plenty.

Then, cover the bottom of your 9 x 13 inch pan with a thin layer of tomato sauce.  Then put down a layer of noodles (probably about 5 noodles, somewhat overlapped, about a third of your total noodles).  Then put down a layer of the tofu filling (use half of the tofu-spinach mixture), and spread evenly.  I recommend putting small dollops all over the noodles and then spreading them out by hand.  Then pour over about half of the remaining tomato sauce, and then another layer of noodles.  Add the rest of the tofu filling and cover with the remaining noodles and finish with the remaining tomato sauce.  To recap, the layers are sauce, noodles, filling, sauce, noodles, filling, noodles, sauce.

Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, until piping hot and bubbling.  Remove from oven.  Narrowly avoid scalding mouth, impress Olive Oyl, repeat. 

Makes one 9"x13" pan.

Comments:
Taste:          

This lasagna is a really solid dish.  It's not anything particularly exciting or exotic, but it tastes really good and there is some heft to it because of all the layers of filling and noodles.  It reheats well so it's a good dish to make for the week.  Carol describes our version of lasagna as a "less-artery-clogging comfort food" -- a great taste without mounds of cheese and meat!
Accessibility:      

All of these ingredients are inexpensive and pretty easy to find.
 Ease of Preparation:         

We had some struggles with trying to get the spinach to thaw in the microwave, but the "ricotta" filling was easy and the layering of ingredients in the pan was pain free.  Pro tip:  try putting the spinach in the fridge the night before you make the recipe so that it will be already thawed.  The only bad part about this recipe is that it needs to cook for a long time, which is frustrating to growling tummies.
Non-vegan friendliness:        

I think this is a fully satisfying replacement for meaty lasagna.  Carol thinks the tofu does a good job of mimicking ricotta cheese.  She added that it doesn't taste like cheese, to which I reply, ricotta doesn't taste like cheese anyway!

4 comments:

  1. Just a thought, but are the noodles vegan as well? Pasta dough is made with a pile of flour and a couple of eggs

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    Replies
    1. The only ingredients in the pasta we used are semolina, durum flour, niacin, iron, thiamin, mononitrate, riboflavin, and folic acid--so yes, it's vegan. It turns out that many boxed pastas are actually vegan (unlike fresh pasta, which is almost never vegan).

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  2. Are any of you guys single? You seem so cool...

    ReplyDelete
  3. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/22/science/22angi.html

    Yeah, they are cool.

    But only if cool = mercilessly pummeling and stabbing at innocent spinach... only before brutally squeezing out any dignity it used to have over the drain. And then, as a matter of course, layering the ruins of tomatoes, wheat, tofu, and spinach into a nonstick mausoleum to be cooked and readied for mammalian consumption.

    ReplyDelete