Veggie Lasagna with Tofu Cashew Ricotta

Yep, this lightened up, healthy lasagna is vegan but you really won’t miss the cheese, I swear.  I know because I always loved cheesy baked pasta dishes so I if I was going to create a cheeseless lasagna, it had to be good.  I skip using any type of packaged vegan cheese on this because I’m really picky about how I use those and I wanted to preserve the other flavors going on here.  Of course you can always switch up the veggies based on what you like or have on hand.  One important tip, do pick a good quality pasta sauce if you don’t make your own.  I love Rao’s, Marinelli’s, and Paesana sauces.

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Serves 6

Ingredients

Basil Ricotta

¾ cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked in water 3-4 hrs

½ block of firm tofu, drained and pressed

1 cup fresh basil leaves

3 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

¼ cup lemon juice

1 Tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Low-sodium broth for sautéing

2 portobello caps, gills removed, diced

1 small bell pepper, diced

1 small onion, diced

1 heaping cup chopped broccoli

2 cloves garlic, minced

10 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package

2 cups pasta sauce

Method

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Add all the basil ricotta ingredients to a food processor and process until it all comes together.  Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a few  tablespoons of broth, just enough to barely coat bottom of the pan.  You don’t want too much liquid because you want the veggies to brown a bit.  Add portobello, bell pepper, and onion.  Cook 5 minutes stirring occasionally.  Stir in broccoli and garlic and, adding a little more broth as needed. Cook 3-4 minutes longer or until liquid has cooked off.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Assemble lasagna: (note: you will have to trim noodles to fit and you may not use them all).  Coat bottom of a 8 or 9 inch square baking dish with some of the tomato sauce.  Add a layer of lasagna noodles, spread 1/3 of the ricotta on the noodles, top with half the veggies.  Spread 1/3 of remaining sauce on top.  Repeat with another layer of noodles, ricotta, veggies and sauce.  Now top with the last layer of noodles, ricotta and sauce. Cover with foil and bake 35-40 minutes.

 
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Crispy Tofu Tacos

Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner so it couldn’t be a better time for perfecting some of those Mexican inspired recipes, of course done vegan and healthy.  When I teach cooking classes people always ask me for tips on cooking tofu.  I think getting the right texture is the biggest challenge when cooking with tofu.  In this recipe I’ve used one of my secret weapons, the vacuum packed tofu that’s already been pressed.  Not the kind in water that you have to drain and press yourself.  This way you cut out a step and the tofu already has that firm texture.  You definitely wouldn’t a watery, mushy mesh of tofu in your tacos. Yuck.

 I love the House Foods Vacuum Packed Tofu, and the Cutlet is great too because it also has a “skin” on it, as well as great texture. And bonus – they’re CERTIFIED ORGANIC and NON-GMO CERTIFIED. So, so important when buying soy products. You can read more about GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) on the Non-GMO Project site.

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Makes 4 tacos

Ingredients

1 Tbsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp chipotle powder or cayenne (optional)

2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)

1 8oz. package vacuum packed tofu such as House Foods (not the kind in water)

1/4 cup diced onion (or add 1/2 tsp onion powder to spices)

4 crispy taco shells, warmed in the oven

Fixins: Avocado (mashed with a pinch of salt), pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, hot sauce

Method

Mix spices in a bowl, then add soy sauce.  Crumble tofu into the bowl and mix with a fork to further break up tofu and thoroughly coat with spices.

Heat a skillet sprayed with cooking spray or lightly coated with oil.  Add tofu and onion.  Cook over medium-heat, stirring a few times, for about 5-8 minutes.  Spoon into tacos shells and pile on the fixins!

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

Smooth and creamy chocolate mousse made vegan by using silken tofu as the base.  I like to think that since the tofu has protein it makes this even a bit healthy!

For the ingredients I recommend almond or soy milk.  Skip some of the others like rice milk which is too watery.  If you’re doing this totally vegan, look for vegan chocolate chips.  Regular semi-sweet chocolate chips typically contain some milk.  Most importantly, the best tofu is Mori-Nu silken tofu in firm or extra-firm (also comes in Lite).  This is the shelf stable silken tofu found with the Asian foods.  If you can’t find this there is sometimes a refrigerated silken tofu with all the other kinds of tofu but the package is bigger so the other ingredients need to be adjusted accordingly.

Now for the super easy recipe…

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Makes 4-5 servings

Ingredients

1 package Mori-Nu Firm or Extra-Firm Silken Tofu

3/4 cup Almond Milk

1 cup Chocolate Chips

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Directions

Place almond milk and chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and heat about 1 minute depending on your microwave.  Stir together until chocolate chips are dissolving in milk, you should now have a rich chocolate milk.  If necessary, heat a bit a longer.  Let the mixutre cool for a few minutes.

Add chocolate mixture, tofu, and vanilla to a food processor or blender and process until pureed.  This is important: taste the mixture to make sure you don’t a have a tofu taste since all brands are different.  If it’s not chocolaty enough you can melt some more chocolate chips and add it but don’t add any more milk or it won’t set properly.

Pour into 4-5 ramekins or small dishes.  It will set better this way than if it’s in one big bowl.  Chill 2-3 hours and it’s ready to eat!