Gluten-free Vegan Vegetable Lasagna

Busy is the name of the game over here. This week has been very hectic work wise, I have a writing assignment due at the end of the month that I haven't even begun (oops), and wedding planning is in full swing. We are trying to save money by not eating out as often but lately, I've been burning myself out by trying to make a new and different meal every.single.night.  There are days when the mere thought of turning on my stove is enough to make me crawl into bed with a giant bowl of popcorn and call it dinner.  To avoid this, I am going to try to make more meals that can be eaten throughout the week.  The meal I made this week for awesome leftover meals? Gluten-free Vegan Vegetable Lasagna. I've been slightly obsessed with tofu ricotta since I made my vegan stuffed shells. If you haven't made them yet, try them!  Even the most avid of tofu haters (ahem - my fiance) will love it.  I was determined to make another dish with tofu ricotta and lasagna was the first thing that popped into my mind. Although it is a bit involved, each component can be made the day before and then all you have to do is assemble and pop it in the oven. Or you could assemble on the weekend and bake on Monday. Easy.

First you need to properly prep your eggplant.  If you hate eggplant, try making it this way. It ensures that your eggplant is not at all bitter. The eggplant secret? Salt. Slice your eggplant and sprinkle it with salt. Press a papertowl over it and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Then roast to charred perfection.  Bitterness be gone!

Then you make your spinach filling. Then your mushroom pepper filling. Roast your peppers over your gas stove or in the broiler. Or grab a jar of roasted peppers. But really you should roast your own because it smells and tastes so amazing. Get out your tomato jam. You did make some right? If not, no worries, just grab some marinara.

Make your cheesy cashew morney sauce (it's like cheesy vegan gluten-free bechamel). Grab your food processor and whip up some tofu ricotta. Resist eating it straight from the bowl.

Layer it up!  Then, pop it in the oven and wait 30;. minutes. Drizzle a little balsamic on top to finish. Gorgeous.

Gluten-free Vegan Vegetable Lasagna Yields: 1 9x13 pan; you can also use a 9x9 pan and just add an eggplant layer between your spinach/ricotta layer and mushroom/ricotta layer. Inspired by: Mediterrean Lasagna from this wonderful book - Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking by Kelli and Peter Bronski (Thanks sis-in-law!)

2 medium sized eggplants, cut lengthwise salt!

1. Preheat oven to 425F. 2. Cut the ends off your eggplant and slice lengthwise in 1/2 inch thick slices. 3. Lay eggplants on baking sheet(s) and sprinkle generously with salt. Don't skimp here. 4. Press paper towels over the eggplant slices and let sit for at least 30 minutes. 5. When you're ready to roast,  brush the slices with olive oil. You can either rinse the eggplant and re-season or just pop them in the oven to roast. I do the latter. 6. Roast until golden, about 10-12 minutes or so. Just keep an eye on them so they don't get too toasty. Set aside to cool.

Spinach Filling: 1 bag fresh spinach (16 oz.) 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 Tbsp olive oil salt + pepper to taste 1. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. 2. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. 3. Add spinach and saute until wilted, about 5 minutes or less. Season.  Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Mushroom Pepper Filling: 1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms (I used crimini) 2 carmen peppers (or one large red pepper), roasted and diced * 1/2 large onion, diced 1 Tbsp olive oil salt + pepper to taste

1. Char your peppers over a gas stove or in the broiler.  Set aside to cool. Dice when cool enough to handle. *If you use jarred peppers, be sure to dry them off a bit and use about 4 large slices. 2. Slice your mushrooms and dice your onion. 3. Heat olive oil in the same pan used for the spinach (yay for less dishes) over medium heat. 4. Add onion and saute until transculent, about 7-10 minutes. 5. Add diced peppers and saute another 2 minutes until they just begin to soften. 6. Add mushrooms and saute another 2-3 minutes until they begin to soften. 7. Season everything and set aside.

Cashew Morney Sauce 1/4 c. raw unsalted cashews 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast 1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk 1/4 tsp. ground mustard squeeze of fresh lemon juice salt + white pepper to taste 1. Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and blend until smooth. 2. Set aside. Tofu Ricotta - see this recipe for more details. 1 block extra-firm herbed tofu (or regular tofu, just add your own seasoning) 1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast 2 Tbsp. olive oil salt + pepper to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until ricotta-esque. 2. Set aside.

Tomato Jam - see this recipe. You can also used jarred marinara sauce.

To Assemble: 1. Preheat oven to 375F. 2. Pour a little bit of sauce in the bottom of the pan and spread to thinly coat. 3. Layer eggplant slices. 4. Top eggplant slices with tomato jam, about 1 tsp. per slice. You just want it to barely cover 5. Top with all of the spinach filling (or less depending on how you are layering!). 6. Add half of the tofu ricotta and drizzle about 1/4 of the cashew morney sauce on top of that. 7. Top with all of the mushroom pepper filling (or less depending on how you are layering!) 8. Repeat step #6. 9. Top with the rest of the eggplant.  Drizzle eggplant with a little olive oil and the remainder of the cashew morney sauce. 10. Bake for about 20 minutes covered and 10 minutes uncovered.

Happy Friday everyone! I will be back next week with posts that are a bit shorter :)