Last night I made lasagna for dinner. I hadn’t made a vegan version yet, as I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do about the cheese. Then last week, while making a recipe from Chloe’s Kitchen, I came up with an idea. She had a pine nut spread that used garlic and lemon, and used it as a replacement for ricotta in an Italian dish. I tinkered with the ingredients to make it work for this dish and it tasted great. Now, I wouldn’t go as far as saying that this pine nut spread is a cheese. Let’s face it, its just not! But it is delicious! Let’s call things what they really are and think of it more like a creamy pesto spread.
Its been a hectic week, and my little guy is still sick, so I worked to make this a quick and easy, but really healthy dish. Ok, you’re right, lasagna is never “easy,” but this is easier for sure. Quick prep and lots of downtime. I used jarred sauce and no-boil noodles. I quickly sautéed some veggies, pureed my pesto nut spread, washed some fresh kale and layered it all together. Into the oven for 45 minutes while I played with my little buddy and dinner was ready!
1 package no-boil lasagna noodles
1 jar marinara sauce (or make your own)
veggies, diced small, to sauté (I used 2 small zucchinis, 1 medium yellow squash, and about 1 ½ cups of mushrooms)
salt and pepper
pesto nut spread, recipe below, can be made in advance
3 c raw kale or spinach (about half of a large bundle)
½ – 1 c panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 375.
Sauté vegies in olive oil until a bit tender, add salt and pepper, and a sprinkle of oregano and cook a minute longer.
Place about 1 cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of a large oven proof dish. Place a layer of no-boil noodles over top to cover, breaking as needed to fit. Spread a third of the nut mixture on top of the noodles. Then place a third of the veggies on top, a third of the kale, and then another thin layer of read sauce, about a quarter of what’s remaining in the jar. Repeat twice, and then top with 1 more layer of noodles, followed by the rest of the red sauce. Sprinkle liberally with bread crumbs.
Cover tightly with foil and place in oven. The foil is essential for the no-boil noodles—they need the steam to cook thoroughly, without it they will stay crispy. Remove foil after 45 minutes and let the top crisp up for a minute. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before cutting to keep all of the layers together. Enjoy!
Pesto Nut Spread
1 c cashews
½ c pine nuts
1 roasted head of garlic, or 2 cloves raw if pressed for time
juice of 1 lemon
½ c water, or more to desired consistency
1 ½ oz fresh basil (about 1 c packed leaves)
3 T nutritional yeast (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Place nuts in saucepan and cover with water. Boil for 10 minutes and drain. Add to food processor with remaining ingredients and puree until smooth (will need to run for a few minutes).