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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Vegan Two-Cheese Lasagna

The Italian in me is always thrilled to find a new vegan lasagna recipe.  This one is begging me to make it.  It comes from Allison Rivers Samson of Allison's Gourmet, via a contribution on VegNews.  She uses a herbed macadamia ricotta and a cashew-cheese sauce.  Wow, this looks good!

Serves 8
What You Need:12 lasagna noodles4 quarts boiling water 

For the marinara sauce:2 tablespoons olive oil1 cup diced onion2 cups diced portabello mushrooms1 teaspoon minced garlic4 teaspoons dried oregano2 teaspoons dried basil1 teaspoon dried rosemary1 teaspoon fennel seeds1 28-ounce can chunky tomatoes1 28-ounce can tomato purée2 teaspoons salt 

For the herbed macadamia ricotta:1-1/2 cups macadamia nuts, soaked in water 4 hours or longer1/2 cup water2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice2 tablespoons olive oil1 teaspoon minced garlic3/4 teaspoon salt2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley1 cup chiffonaded fresh basil leaves1 cup coarsely chopped green or black olives 

For the cashew-cheese sauce:1 cup raw cashews1/2 cup water2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice1 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar 
For garnish (optional):2 tablespoons coarsely chopped pine nuts1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley 
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What You Do:1. In a 9x12-inch baking dish, place noodles and cover with boiling water. Let sit about 15 to 25 minutes until al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. For the marinara sauce, in a large saucepan over medium heat, heat olive oil and add onion. Sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent. Add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, oregano, basil, rosemary, and fennel, and reduce heat to low. Add tomatoes and purée, and cover loosely, simmering for 30 minutes. Add salt and cook another 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. For the herbed macadamia ricotta, in a food processor, purée macadamia nuts, water, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt for 1 minute. Scrape down sides and purée another minute until light and fluffy. Transfer to a bowl and fold in parsley, basil, and olives.

4. For the cashew-cheese sauce, in a dry blender, grind cashews into a fine powder. Add water, lemon juice, salt, and rice vinegar. Process until completely smooth.

5. Lightly cover bottom of 9x12-inch baking dish with marinara to prevent noodles from sticking to dish. Arrange a layer of noodles and top with a quarter of the remaining marinara. Spread a third of ricotta over noodles and then a third of the cheese sauce. Repeat layers with remaining ingredients, sprinkle with pine nuts, and cover with foil. Place baking dish on a sheet pan to catch any drips in oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 20 minutes until sauce bubbles. Cool for 15 minutes, garnish with fresh parsley, and serve hot. 

Chef’s Tip: Like many other Italian dishes, this luscious lasagna tastes even better after the flavors are able to marinate overnight. Double the recipe and freeze one for a quick and convenient dinner that’s ready to eat.