Dani took the lead on this one– a dish that is intentionally vegan, keto, dairy-free…well, free of most things, really. Like…take this lentil bolognese, but cut out the wheat pasta, and other natural carbs from the lentils. She deserves a round of applause though; it was delicious! Don’t like zucchini? Try eggplant, or maybe even large mushrooms. Or better yet– imagine layers of all three?
The sauce is the most important ingredient here, so start that first. We used tomato, poblano pepper, onion, garlic, and herbs, and let it reduce by half, and thicken a little more than you would for other pasta dishes. You’ll want to get rid of excess water to that all of the layers will hold together later.
The cashew “cheese” is a pretty good stand-in for ricotta, and with the right herbs you can hardly tell the difference. This one blew my mind a little– soak some toasted cashews in hot water, drain, and blend with olive oil, almond milk, lemon zest, and herbs. On it’s own, the blended cashew is similar to tahini, but milder. It’s amazing how well it stands in for ricotta, when combined with everything else.
Once all the other components are done, slice the zucchini thinly, and layer with sauce, and cashew “cheese” until you fill up your pot. Bake the whole thing covered, but finish un-covered so that the edges will crisp up. Then, if you can resist, let it cool fully before you make the first cut, and it will be more likely to keep it’s shape.
This was a fun experiment with “vegan” food. Even though I don’t typically shoot for vegan recipes, it’s cool to see the different unconventional things you can do with basic ingredients. This one is definitely going into are repertoire.
4-6 Zucchini, sliced thinly
1 Poblano Pepper, diced
2 Cups Toasted Cashews
4 Cups Tomatoes, seeded and diced
5 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1/2 Onion, minced
1.5 Cups Unsweetened Almond Milk
2 Sprigs of Basil, Thyme, and Oregano
1 Tbs Capers
1 Tbs Garlic Powder
1 Tbs Dried Rosemary
1 Tsp Chili Flakes
4 Tbs Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
- Sauté tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic, and capers in one tablespoon of olive oil on med-high heat. Once things begin to soften, lower the heat to medium, and season with salt. Stir in fresh, and dried herbs, then season to taste with pepper, chili flakes, and garlic powder. Stir occasionally until thickened, then remove from heat.
- Slice zucchini, and season lightly with salt and pepper, then set aside.
- Combine cashews, almond milk, olive oil, and salt in a food processor, and blend into a smooth paste. Add lemon zest if desired, and taste for seasoning. Chill for five to ten minutes until thickened.
- Use one tablespoon of oil to to coat the inside of a heavy pot of lasagna pan. Layer thinly sliced zucchini, tomato sauce, and cashew “cheese” until all ingredients are used. Preheat the oven to 425, and cover the pan and bake for roughly 35 minutes. Remove the lid, then cook for an additional twenty-five minutes, or until the edges are golden.
- Cool for at least twenty minutes before slicing.
- Plate and serve.