Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dinner vs Supper: Spinach lasagna

Over the weekend I visited NYC with my friend Jackie and met up with my Dad and Stepmom and a long time friend. We had an amazing weekend together filled with food, shopping, art, drinking and all around visual consuming. By Sunday the schlepping of bags and constant hum of the city was starting to wear on me. I missed my house. Especially my kitchen and the people that inhabit it. So last night after a long day at work and the juggling of more errands, I wanted to make a proper meal. And not just any meal, I wanted comfort food. And so did the people I was cooking for. By the time I got around to making dinner it was 9pm. Which is technically supper, but unlike supper (defined as a "light meal before bed") this was slightly heavy and served at exactly 10:25pm. But no one seemed to care, I was hungry (literally) for some QT with my buddies and a full belly after the long day and jam-packed weekend. I decided on making one of my favorite dishes adapted from the cookbook that taught me how to prepare vegan food; How it All Vegan. Its for Spinach Lasagna and it never fails. I'm proud to list this as my first adapted recipe because no matter what type of food consumer you classify yourself as (or don't) you will LOVE this dish. If my carnivore Dad likes it so will yours.

Shane and Douglas consuming lasagna last night...

Spinach lasagna*

Preheat your oven to 350, Prep time about 30 minutes
Total time: 1-2 hours depending on your kitchen agility.

Lasagna pan or similar deep pan

1 box or more Lasagna Pasta (I like to use Bionature 's whole wheat lasagna)

1/2-1# Mozzarella, shredded

Pasta Sauce: (make a bunch of this when these veggies are in season...freezes really well)

4-8 Tomato's, diced (best if in season)
1 24 ounce can of diced Tomato's
2 Carrots sliced into 1/8" thick rounds, or finely chopped
1/2 Red Pepper, chopped into 1/2 squares
1/2 Green Pepper, chopped into 1/2 squares
8-10 Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
1 medium Yellow Onion, finely chopped
A hearty handful of fresh Basil, washed, dried and chopped well
1Tbsp of fresh Oregano, washed, dried and chopped well
1Tbsp of fresh Thyme
1/2 tsp fresh ground Black Pepper
1 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Scant tbsp sweetener of your choice (optional)

When your ingredient's are chopped and prepped for the sauce start a large stock pot of salted water for your pasta. Then heat half of the olive oil in a large sauce pan on med-lo, when heated saute the mushrooms until slightly browned, remove to a bowl, add the rest of the olive oil and saute the onions until translucent, add the mushrooms back along with the herbs, peppers and carrots. Saute until the veggies are soft but not mushy, 5 minutes. Add the tomato's and whole can of diced tomatoes (juice too), add the black pepper and salt, stir, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 20minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust your heat so that your sauce stays at a simmer. Taste and adjust your seasonings accordingly, add some sugar if the mixture is to acidic. Cook for 10 minutes more and remove from heat. The sauce will be thick, thin with water or vegetable stock if you want a thinner sauce.

While your sauce is cooking start your pasta, add 1/2 a box at a time, cook until almost al dente about 5-6 minutes. While you pasta is cooking make your Spinach-Tofu Mixture.

Spinach-Tofu Mixture: (note you can make this ahead of time and it freezes well)

1# Firm Tofu
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 large shallot bulb, roughly chopped
2-4 cloves of garlic, quartered
1/4 cup soymilk or whole milk
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups fresh chopped spinach (you can use frozen too just make sure you have gotten all the excess water out)

Blend all ingredient's together except the spinach to a smooth consistency, if your blender is less than perfect you may want to blend in batches. Stir in the spinach. Set aside.


Spread a thin layer of the Pasta Sauce on the bottom of your pan (just enough to coat it) add a layer of pasta followed by a layer of the Spinach-Tofu Mixture followed by a layer of mozzarella. Another layer of pasta followed by a layer of sauce followed by the rest of the spinach tofu, another layer of sauce and mozzarella. Bake for 30-45 minutes until bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. You may want to rotate half way through for even browning. Let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Serve to loved ones with a simple green salad and olives. Wine, candles and goofy boys are optional.


You can use many variations on this dish. Try adding finely grated in-season zucchini, carrots and mushrooms. Add some browned veggie or real sausage. I've also made this vegan-gluten free with great results. Make a double batch and freeze one for later. Try making individual lasagnas in ramekins. If you are not using cheese add more pasta sauce to the top and if you like Nutritional Yeast sprinkle a little of that on top for flavor.