One of my favorite italian dishes and one of the comfort foods I've missed since discovering my body's intolerance (thanks to a 30 day whole food challenge cleanse 7 years ago) for gluten and dairy, is LASAGNA! As a non red meat eater since 1989, I used to joyfully consume variations of spinach or veggie lasagna, before the whole cheese and gluten issue was discovered for both me and my daugher, who is SEVERELY allergic to gluten and dairy. I'm talking debilitating drop to the floor in pain stomach aches, bloating and neasuea allergic. So Lasagna has not been on our menu for quite some time.
Creating new normals and new traditions have been an ongoing part of our lives the last few years, so when facing our first Christmas without my dear dad who passed on November 2018, I needed to create a new holiday meal and another new tradition. The calling for some serious comfort food was in order, and there's nothing like some hearty lasagna, bread (gluten free of course) and oil to satisfy the need.
So, knowing we wanted a healthier, plant-based and gluten & dairy free version, I created the following lasagna. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and friends have (even some of the meat eaters have said it's the best lasagna they ever tasted!). As with all of my recipes, feel free to modify ingredients for personal preferences and any allergies, such as cashew allergies from which the cashew cream cheese sause is made of.
1 Package of Gluten Free Lasagna Noodles (I used brown rice noodles)
2 Packages Organic Firm Pressed Tofu
3/4 Jar of Organic (or homemade or other preferred) Marinara Sauce
2-3 Cups Organic Spinach Leaves, Torn
*Cashew Cream Cheese Sauce (if not already prepared, recipe below)
Spices: Sea Salt, Pepper, Italian Seasoning. I didn't use garlic due to allergies, but garlic, onion, red pepper make for a spicier dish.
To Make Cashew Cream Cheese Sauce: Add 2 cups of soaked, rinsed raw cashews, 1-1/2 Cups water, 1/4 C Nutritional Yeast, 1 Organic carrot (or handful of baby carrots) salt & pepper to Vitamix or food processor. Taste for "cheesiness" and add additional nutritional yeast if desired.
Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, combine crumbled (drained) tofu with torn spinach, sea salt & pepper (and other seasons as desired)and a few drizzles of cashew cream cheese sauce (by hand in a bowl). Drain and rinse lasagna noodles with cold water and begin the layering process in glass 9" x 13" baking dish.
Begin layering by covering thin layer of marinara in bottom of dish, then add 3 lasanga noodles, then layer of marinara, then drizlzle layer of cashew cream cheese sauce and then tofu spinach mixture. If adding any additional veggies, add on top of tofu spinach mixture and repeat layering. For top final layer of lasagna noodles, cover with thin layer of marinara and top with cashew cream sauce.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Ovens vary so check to see if more cooking time is needed. Let Lasagna sit for 10 minutes before serving. Any leftovers may be refrigerated for up to 3 days (we think it tastes even better the next day after the flavors marinate overnight!) or up to 3 months in freezer.
I served with a big mixed green salad and gluten free bread and dippig oil for the perfect, deliciously comforting meal.
Cheers to enjoying traditional favorites with a healthier, allergy free twist!