Tag Archives: pasta sauce

Whole Lotta Love Very Veggie Lasagna

Lasagna is popular around my house.  It’s one of those meals with a whole lotta love baked right in.  Where does that love live?  In the tomato-y sauce?  The savory fillings?  The cheese?  I worried a bit that the love came from the cheese, when I decided to make a vegan pasta.  Once assembled, baked and tasted…..no more worries!  All the love was still there.

yum2

I gathered up a rainbow of veggies from my fridge, noodles, sauce and nutritional yeast and tofu for the spectacular roasted cauliflower “ricotta.”

ingredients

For the ricotta: (From a recipe in Appetite For Reduction)

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 pound extra firm tofu
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I used my current fav ingredient–truffle salt!)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • cooking spray

For the rest of the lasagna:

  • Your choice of veggies that YOU like.  For example, I used:
  • 1/2 each 4 different colored bell peppers, rough chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped into quarter-moons
  • 1 small yellow squash, chopped into quarter moons
  • 2-3 cups assorted sliced mushrooms (I have button, cremini, and shitake)
  • 9-12 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package  (These rice noodles were more narrow than the noodles I usually use, so I needed 12 rather than the usual 9 to cover the width of my 9×13 pan for the three layers)
  • 1 quart prepared pasta sauce  (I used my zesty pasta sauce)
  • 1 package vegan alfredo sauce, prepared according to the package (optional)
  • veggie broth for sauteing veggies

Preheat oven to 400F.  Line a sided baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon sheet or spray with cooking spray.

Prepare the lasagna noodles according to the package instructions, drain and set aside.

Prepare the vegan cheese sauce, if using, and set aside.

Chop the cauliflower into 1/2-ish pieces.

chop cauliflower

Place on prepared baking sheet, spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt.  Toss with your hands to distribute the salt evenly.  Spray with cooking spray one more time and spread in an even layer and bake for 10 minutes.

season and roast

Flip it with a spatula, and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes–until lightly browned, tender and yummy.

perfecty roasted

While the cauliflower roasts, drain the tofu, squeezing out as much of the moisture as you can.  Wrap in in a clean kitchen towel to squeeze out some more.  I’m learning that the key to tofu is getting it as dry as possible.

press moisture from tofu

Use your hands to crumble the tofu so it resembles ricotta.  Add another 1/4 tsp salt, the nutritional yeast, lemon juice and pepper. Mix and set aside.

season crumbled tofu

Remove the cauliflower from the oven and reduce oven temperature to 375 F.

Add the roasted cauliflower to the tofu crumble and mash it into the tofu with a fork or a potato masher.  (Steal a little taste here, this is yummy enough to eat by itself!)  Set aside.

mash cauliflower into tofu

Heat about 1/4 cup veggie broth in a large skillet.  Chop the veggies and add to the skillet.  Saute until they’re cooked to your liking.  I like them just getting soft, but with a little crispness left.  Aren’t all the colors pretty?  It’s super healthy to eat lots of different veggie colors.  Season with salt and pepper.

saute veggies

Add the mushrooms and cook til almost soft.  Add additional veggie broth as needed.

add mushrooms

Lightly coat the bottom of a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.  Spread 1/4-1/2 cup of the pasta sauce over the bottom of the pan.

spread sauce in pan

Stir the rest of the sauce into the veggies.

add sauce

Form a layer of noodles (3 or 4 depending on the size of the noodles) and top with 1/2 of the veggie-sauce mixture.

layer noodles and half veggie sauce

Form another layer of noodles and spread about 3/4 of the ricotta evenly over the top.

layer noodles and most of ricotta

Add one more layer of noodles and top with the other half of the veggie mixture and the remaining ricotta.

top with remaining ricotta

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove foil and spread the vegan cheese sauce on top, if using and bake an additional 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.

baked

Cut into the size pieces you want and enjoy!

yum3

This lasagna is vegan, low-fat and gluten-free, due to the rice noodles.  No meat.  No dairy.  No gluten.  Very little fat.    Absolutely no loss of yum.  This is some seriously healthy, seriously yummy, whole lotta love lasagna.

yum2

Even better the next day.  What veggies will be in YOUR lasagna?

Leave a comment

Filed under comfort food, dairy-free, dinner, Gluten-free, recipe, restaurants, Vegetarian

Zesty Pasta Sauce

I’m a reader.  I’m a gardener.  I work at keeping my carbon footprint as small as possible.  My BFF Becky knows me really well, and a few years ago recommended the perfect book: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  It’s a memoir of the year she and her family lived as locovores–written in Kingsolver’s characteristic style with all sorts of compelling essays on the whys of eating locally.  I keep this book with my cookbooks in the kitchen, so the recipe for this pasta sauce is at the ready when I need it. 

How satisfying to have some of your summer saved in beautiful jars!  How spectacular to have the flavor of summer on your pasta on a cold, grey winter’s day!

This is quite a project–totally do-able–but time consuming.  Set aside a day, make yourself as much working space as possible, and gather up a rather imposing (But really do-able!  Really!) bunch of ingredients.  I’ll give the amounts of each from the book; you may need to adjust amounts according to how much tomato puree you end up with–more on that later!  The best plan is to wait until you have LOTS of tomatoes and make a bunch of sauce all at once.  I freeze tomatoes while I accumulate them.

NOTE: You MUST stick closely to the recipe if you’re canning for proper pH. If you’re freezing the sauce, feel free to add fresh veggies.

This recipe will make 6-8 qts–any combination of quart or pint jars or freezer boxes.

  • 10 qts tomato puree ( I use all sorts of tomatoes.  Paste tomatoes, like romas, thicken the sauce faster.)
  • 4 large onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup dried basil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 TBSP dried oregano
  • 3 TBSP salt
  • 2 TBSP ground, dried lemon peel
  • 2 TBSP thyme
  • 2 TBSP garlic powder (or more, to taste)
  • 2 TBSP dried parsley
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Start with blanching the tomatoes to make them easier to peel.  Cook briefly in boiling water–just until peels start to loosen, about 1-2 minutes.  I use a blancher–a double pot with a strainer that lifts out.

As soon as peels show evidence of cracks/loosening, dump them into an ice bath to stop the cooking.  I fill my (very clean) sink with cold water and ice.

Peel and chunk the tomatoes. 

I set up my processor next to the sink, with a bowl to place the chunked tomatoes in and a measuring bowl to measure the puree.  An apron is recommended–tomatoes squirt and splash as you peel them and pour the puree from the processor to the measuring bowl to the cooking pot.

Place chunked tomatoes in the processor and puree to a fairly consistant smoothness, but not liquified.  Pour puree into the measuring bowl, keep track of how much puree you have as you go along, pouring into a large stainless steel or enamel stock pot.

When all tomatoes are pureed, figure your total amount of puree and adjust the rest of the ingredients in the recipe accordingly.  For example, if you end up with 5 quarts of puree, cut all amounts in half.

Peel and chop the onions and sweat/soften them in a pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Add a small amount of water if needed, but NO OIL if you are canning! 

While onions are softening, measure out the rest of the ingredients and add to the puree.

Add onions to the mix when they are soft.

Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat for two to three hours until sauce has thickened to your liking.  (Your kitchen will smell amazing!) Stir frequently, especially toward the end, to avoid burning.  Meanwhile, heat water in a canner, wash jars and rings or sterlize in a dishwasher.  Rinse jars and rings well and hold in hot water.  Boil lids and hold at a simmer.

Fill jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.

IMPORTANT–NOT OPTIONAL: Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice OR 1/2 tsp citric acid (Fruit Fresh) to EACH quart jar. (Half as much per pint.)  This ensures that the sauce will be safely acidic.

Wipe rims, place lids and adjust rings.

When all jars are filled, lower them into the boiling water of a canner.  Most canners hold up to 7 jars at a time.

 

Process (boil) quarts for 35 minutes, pints for 25 minutes with the lid on the canner.  Start the time when the water starts to boil again after placing jars.

Carefully remove jars with a jar lifter and let cool.  Listen for the metallic “thunk” indicating the jars are sealing.  The lids will be concave when sealed.  Label with whatever you decide to call your sauce, along with the date you canned it.  (The sauce will keep for a year in normal house temperatures–not that it will last that long!)  Have fun!  Be creative!  BFF Becky calls hers “Romalicious.”  🙂

There ya go!  You just made the yummiest pasta sauce ever!  Use it on pasta (duh!), or as a pizza sauce, a sauce to jazz up a meat loaf, a sandwich spread, or most any time a recipe calls for tomatoes!  Mmmm!  Yummy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

7 Comments

Filed under Books, Canning and preserving, comfort food, Garden produce, recipe

The Mindful Foodie

How often do we look at a plate of food and think about where it comes from?  How often do we think about a food’s origin when grocery shopping?  In this busy world, it’s easy to grab and go.  Often the thought is to buy foods that are quick and easy to prepare.  The book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver changed my whole outlook on food.

I’m a huge Barbara Kingsolver fan to begin with.  I absolutely LOVED the Poisonwood Bible and Prodigal Summer.  This book still carries Kingsolver’s voice, and so even though it’s a work of nonfiction on subject matters that are sometimes scary (in the case of big chemical companies like Monsanto), this book is a comfortable read.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is the true story of Kingsolver’s family living a year eating locally.  Each family member was allowed one “non-local” food, such as coffee or chocolate, but aside from that, they grew or purchased all of their food within 100 miles of their farm.  It can be done.  Of course, eating locally is easier in some areas of the country than others. 

The book is told by Kingsolver, her husband and her oldest daughter.  The husband tells the heavy content–Monsanto, Kingsolver tells of the day-to-day progression of eating locally, and the daughter shares seasonal recipes.  When you eat locally, you tend to eat what’s growing at the time.  No year-round asparagus, for instance. 

After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I have become much more mindful of my grocery purchases, and grow a lot more in my garden to store for the winter.  I even bought citrus trees to have “local citrus”– something unheard of in Western Colorado!  I have NOT given up coffee.  : )   

Right now, I can’t see myself being a complete locovore, but I am when I can.  I shop the farmer’s markets in the summer, I try to get my eggs directly from a farmer.  I try to “tread lightly” in my food choices.  I can and store as much garden produce as I can.

To help foods last through the winter, the Kingsolvers canned and froze foods from their garden.  The pasta sauce recipe in the book is fabulous–my BFF Becky and I use it each fall as the tomatoes ripen in our gardens.

Following their recipe exactly makes a sauce that will keep all winter….until you run out.  We always run out before there are enough tomatoes to make more sauce!  It’s best to make it in large batches, to have all the work at one time, but the tomatoes sort of dictate how large a batch you do.  It’s important to stick to the recipe if you’re canning it to maintain a safe pH.

10 quarts tomato puree (about 30 pounds of tomatoes)

4 large onions, peeled and chopped

1 cup dried basil

1/2 cup honey

4 TBSP dried oregano

3 TBSP salt

2 TBSP dried lemon peel

2 TBSP thyme

2 TBSP garlic powder (or more to taste)

2 TBSP dried parsley

2 tsp pepper

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Soften onions in a heavy 3-gallon kettle–add a small amount of water if necessary but NO OIL if you are canning!  Add pureed tomatoes and everything else.  Bring to a boil and simmer until the sauce has thickened to your liking.  Stir frequently, especially near the end, to avoid burning. 

If you are canning, sterilize your jars, and start the water to boil in your canner. 

To maintain proper pH, you MUST add 2 TBSP of lemon juice OR 1/2 tsp citric acid (Fruit Fresh) to each quart.  Half that much for pints.  Ladle hot sauce into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Cap jars and process quarts for 35 minutes.  25 minutes for pints.  Remove, let cool, check the seals, and store for the winter! 

This is a yummy sauce that can be used for spagetti, pizza sauce, over meatloaf….anywhere you’d use a store-bought sauce!  You can add all sorts of fresh peppers, mushrooms, and meats when you cook with it–you just can’t can it with those things in it.  While you’re waiting for garden season, get yourself a copy of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle!

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, recipe