Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gluten-Free, Vegetarian Recipe: Hearty Lasagna

This recipe came from Vegetarian Times, one of the best magazines ever, and they originally got it from another blogger who's writing a recipe book. 

I've modified it quite a bit, though, by nixing the tomato sauce, using dairy instead of vegan cheese and adding ricotta as well as sauteed portobello mushrooms to the quinoa mixture. Mine is also onionless because I'm allergic to onions, and I didn't have fresh basil or parsley on hand so I used dried.

Also, there's absolutely no getting a nice picture of lasagna. Even the magazine picture doesn't look very good. Even if it looks like a horror movie prop when it comes out of the oven and you attempt to slice it and fail, I promise it'll be delicious. It's also extremely nutritious, and I think kids would definitely like it.

So, you'll need:

- 2 zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4" slices (don't attempt to cut them at an angle, just top to bottom)
- 1 portobello mushroom cap
- 1 cup quinoa (I used 1 1/3 cup)
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 jar marinara sauce (I managed to find an organic onion-less one)
- 1 15 oz. package of ricotta
- 1 cup or so of any shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend instead of mozerella and it was actually better)
- 1 cup or so of mozzarella cheese (I used the powdered Kraft kind, what I had on hand.. No fancy farm-fresh stuff here :P)
- 2 tablespoons cream cheese
- 1/4 cup each chopped fresh basil and parsley if available; if not, add none or dried to taste
- A couple of pinches of salt and oregano

First, chop the mushroom into bite-size pieces and allow them to marinate in some of the marinara in the fridge while you're preparing everything else. You could do this 2 hours ahead or 10 minutes ahead, whatever works.

Once you've cut the zucchini into slices, sprinkle them with salt, put them between paper towels and allow the moisture in them to drain. Then, rinse and drain the quinoa.

The recipe originally called for 1/2 cup of tomato sauce in addition to the vegetable broth for the quinoa to cook in, but even though I used quite a bit of extra quinoa and cooking time, it still couldn't absorb all the liquid. So, just stick with the cup of quinoa and two cups of broth, and if you have a small amount of leftover quinoa, toss it in. Bring them and a couple of pinches of dried oregano to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. 
Preheat the oven to 400.

When the quinoa is about half-done, pull out the mushrooms and sautee them in a little olive oil. This is not just to cook them all the way through but also to reduce their volume and water content. Don't discard the marinara; use it along with the rest in the lasagna itself.

Remove the quinoa from heat when it's done absorbing and stir in the basil and parsley (if using), the cream cheese and the mushrooms.

Now, coat the bottom of an 8" casserole dish in marinara and lay 4 zucchini slices on top of it. Put about half of the quinoa and mushroom mixture on top of that. Add a thin layer of ricotta, and cover than in marinara. Repeat this one more time, and then add the mozzarella, then the shredded cheese, and then more mozzarella on top.

Bake for about 30 minutes. Test to see if the zucchini has reached the desired consistency by cutting into it with a knife. It should have a little bit of bite for texture; you don't want to cook it until it's mushy. This will should feed 4 - 6 people, or provide you with a week's worth of leftovers.

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