A delicious summer lasagna that is also healthy, gluten-free, vegan, and local?! Yup, this recipe has all that and still a treat for your taste buds. At the Farmers' Market the other day, one of my favorite vendors had sheets of spinach-flavored pasta. This isn't your average pasta either.... it is made from lentils! These little sheets of protein-dense, gluten-free pasta looked good for one thing: lasagna. There are an increasing number of non-grain based pastas being introduced into the market, some are better than others. The flavors that I have tried from Bisogno have all been delicious though, so a little kitchen experimentation seemed in order.
Fresh, local, organic, plants.... Just the way nature intended.
I set out to make the best plant-based lasagna that I could imagine from ingredients at the Carlsbad Village Farmers' Market. The following recipe is the deliciousness that ensued. There are links to most of the vendors below, hope you take a minute to check out their yummy specialties! In addition to the pasta from Bisogno Pasta, there is pesto from BasilTops, produce from Suzie's Farm, olive tapenade & garlic sauce from Baba Foods, olives from Petrou Foods, and fermented deliciousness from Happy Pantry.
It was definitely a labor of love and totally worth it. Feel free to modify with flavors from your local market or other seasonal veggies.
Whether to make or buy tomato sauce is a matter of preference...and time. One man took the tomato sauce challenge seriously and posted a great blog article about how to make the best tasting tomato sauces. This article is definitely worth a quick read for anyone that doesn't have "grandma's tomato sauce recipe."
Like most pulse-based pastas, this is not quite as delicious the second day. So, make sure to call your friends to come over and share!
Summer Farmers' Market Lasagna
Makes 1 large casserole dish
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
1 1/2 cups raw cashews
1/2 c of dried mushrooms (porcini, maitake, lobster, etc.)
1 medium onion, chopped
15-20 garlic cloves, cleaned
2 cups of tomatoes
1c fresh basil
1/4c fresh rosemary
2T fresh thyme
2T fresh oregano
1c plant-based milk (such as almond, cashew, or hazelnut)
2T lemon juice
1c assorted fresh mushrooms (or 2 cups of fresh mushrooms, if omitting dried mushrooms)
2-5 zucchini of various sizes and shapes (about 2c)
2c baby greens (kale, spinach, chard, etc.)
4 sheets uncooked lentil pasta (or other fresh gluten-free pasta)
Pesto, to taste
Olive tapenade, to taste
Garlic sauce, to taste
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi, to taste
Salt & pepper, to taste
- Ideally, you will soak the cashews for 2-8 hours before beginning this recipe. If this is not possible, then start this first. In either case, rinse the cashews very well, place in a storage container (preferably a glass one), and add enough filtered water to completely submerse the cashews. Cover tightly and set to the side. If you are using dried mushrooms, best to now begin re-hydrating these also, according to instructions.
- Preheat oven to 375F
- If you are going to make your own tomato sauce, best to start this next. Briefly heat 3T olive oil in a medium-large pot on medium heat. Add chopped onion, mix well and turn heat down to medium low. Saute onions until translucent and add 5-6 chopped garlic cloves. Saute for 1-2 minutes as garlic cooks, then add in tomatoes. (If you are using larger tomatoes, best to core them and cut into smaller pieces.) Mix the onions, garlic, and tomatoes well. Allow to saute for 1-2 minutes and turn heat down to low. Add in 1/4c of fresh basil, 2T fresh rosemary, 2T fresh oregano, and 2T thyme (I used the whole sprig and removed the stems later). Cover with a lid and allow to simmer on low.
- To make the cashew ricotta cheese, drain the cashews that have been soaking and rinse them very well again. Combine cashews, 1/2c nut-based milk, lemon juice, 2-3 garlic cloves, and a pinch of salt together in either a food processor or blender. You may have to add more milk, depending on how much the cashews have absorbed. Blend until the mixture is creamy, scraping down the sides a couple of times. Set this aside to allow the flavors to combine.
- Remove the tomato sauce from the heat and allow to cool a bit, while still covered.
- Next, prepare the "meat" layer of mushrooms and walnuts. Wash the mushrooms very well. Take care to gently dry the mushrooms. Place mushrooms, walnuts, 8-10 garlic cloves, and 1T rosemary in a food processor. Chop well until ingredients are coarsely mixed together. Add salt and pepper to taste and continue to chop the mixture until it is about the consistency of ground meat. Set this aside and allow the flavors to combine.
- Carefully remove and discard any large stems from the tomato sauce. Cautiously pour the sauce into a blender, it will still be quite hot. Add a pinch of salt and blend until smooth.
- Remove pits and halve the olives.
- Slice the zucchini length-wise into long pieces about 1/4" thick.
- Your layers are ready now! Begin the process of layering the lasagna in a large casserole dish:
Thin layer of tomato sauce
Pasta noodles or sheets in a single layer
Repeat one more time
- Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven at 375F for 30-40 minutes. Remove cover and bake for another 15-20 minutes. The top should be a bit browned and the sides should be bubbling a bit.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Top with a dab of pesto, garlic sauce, and olive tapenade. Add some sauerkraut, kimchi, or other fermented foods on the side for taste and to aide digestion. And.... enjoy!
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Jonci Jensen , ND is a naturopathic doctor in Carlsbad, CA who shares