12 Feb Vegan Rainbow Vegetable Lasagna
Over the last months I’ve gone through a kind of creativity rut and when that happens it takes me time to figure out what I want to do and I get easily distracted with other interests. The last two months I have been in a kind of podcast phase and I have been listening to a lot of different podcasts and also reading a lot. I’ve been using this time to sort out my thoughts about what I would like to do more of and what I would like to do less of in this new year. Mostly I have been focusing on creating a productive morning routine that sets my tone for the day. What I’ve noticed is that automatically I feel more focused and calm and things start to happen that I have been looking for and that are more in alignment with what I would like to happen in my life. At the same time it gives me the feeling of being in control of my own life and being the master of my own affairs. I don’t have the need to waste time on social media or to let the days pass without having done something to feed my soul. On a mental level I feel very charged and have almost endless amounts of energy. On the downside I have an inexplicable case of cramps, especially at night that really upset my sleep. I take all kinds of supplements and adaptogens but I still haven’t figured out why I can’t sleep. I haven’t been to a physician yet and I guess I have to overcome my fear. I hate going to any kinds of doctors. I always feel really nervous. Besides that I feel great and can’t really complain about my overall health and well-being. Since I’ve noticed that this feeling of productivity comes on its own I have been waiting patiently for my inner voice to give me a kick in the butt. So I guess this is why I feel like writing now. When I write, all my thoughts come out and there is this sense of release and ease at having expressed myself. I honestly wouldn’t know who to talk to about such things if I didn’t blog. I think most people have these kinds of incessant inner dialogues going on and I guess that’s where meditation can be a great relief. So, I’ve been meditating regularly and also journaling to get some more clarity into my daily life. Especially when I’ve read something I need to process the information somehow and journaling helps a lot. Many years ago I read The Artists Way by Julia Cameron which is a great book for all creative types. One of the most important elements that I took away were the morning pages. The idea is that first thing in the morning you write 3 full pages of whatever comes out onto the page. No censoring, no controlling, just your inner dialogue. Once that is out you can begin your day with more freshness and a clean slate. All the things that usually get in the way of you getting things done or whatever. I have adapted the morning pages now to whenever I feel like writing and I find that writing in the evenings is more in alignment with my rhythmn. I usually like to read or meditate in the morning and if I get about 30 minutes to do some yoga than the day is really great. The yoga part is what I leave out the most. Sadly, because I know how great it makes me feel and how essential movement is to getting things flowing. Considering that I have a little one to get to school and all my other obligations it is probably understandable.
When I don’t know what to cook I turn to my kids for inspiration. There was a period when my youngest, Emmanuel spent all his spare screen time watching old episodes of Garfield and inevitably the word “lasagna” popped into his vocabulary with more frequency. I vividly remember the first time he asked me what it was and what was in it and he looked ever so disappointedly because he realized it was very much not vegan but I reassured him that anything can be veganized and that we can always choose what we put into a dish. Since that time I have made many versions including fall ones with squash and winter ones with kale and mushrooms but I was intrigued by the idea of creating a rainbow lasagna with as many colours of the rainbow and flavours that hold well together. This was the result and I am happy to say that it turned out better than I expected.
Perhaps the most challenging thing in creating a recipe is being able to replicate the same recipe. I am definitely the more intuitive cook so I prefer methods over recipes because I almost never have exactly the same ingredients at home. So, I will guide you through and also give you some other options that you can use other than the ingredients I used here.
This recipe is somewhat of a non recipe and I will walk or talk you through the steps and technique that I use to make vegan lasagna. The main ingredients are noodles or sheets of lasagna, vegetables, bechamel, tomato sauce and the cheesy element. Since we don’t use any milk products I usually replace it with a cashew based milk and also cheese sauce. The only difference is that this time I used tomato sauce to replace the bechamel, which means double the amount of tomato sauce and a thick cheesy cashew cream to replace the mozzarella. I also decided to make it look more decorative, so I added the layers on top so you can see what is inside the lasagna (red-tomatos and pepper, green-swiss chard, yellow/orange-carrot puree) and a sprinkling of pine nuts for aroma and crunch. If you want to make this gluten free use gluten free lasagna sheets. I’ve seen them at my local organic supermarket and they have them with corn and rice flours and also with a combination of buckwheat and other flours. Another option would be to use layers of eggplant or butternut squash instead for a veggie-loaded version. This week I made a veggie bake with millet, swiss chard, butternut squash, beets and a creamy topping and it was so divine. I have to remember the recipe so I can post it here. There are really endless possibilities for making layered baked dishes and you can really stray away from this version and create your own dish. Don’t be afraid to do things according to your taste. That is the only way things become really your own. A word of warning about this recipe. It does require a lot of dishes because all the elements are cooked separately, so if you are not a fan of washing dishes (Who is, really?) then don’t attempt this version. Just saying, I didn’t want you to go through it unwarned.
If you are vegan I would love to here how you veganize classic recipes. What are your favourite substitutes for dairy products ? I would have to say cashew cream is my absolute favourite.
Tag me on instagram #veganart and leave me note if you wish. Sending you all lots of love and light.
Vegan Rainbow Vegetable Lasagna
makes one large casserole
1 package of dried sheets of lasagna
1 can whole tomatoes (pelati)
half a bottle tomato passata (about 300 ml)
a small bunch marjoram, fresh or 2 tsp dried
a small bunch oregano, fresh or 1 tsp dried
250 g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large bunch rainbow chard, washed and chopped into smallish pieces
5 large carrots, peeled and chopped roughly
2 large red peppers, deseeded and cut into rings
one small bunch of parsley
2 red onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
120 g cashew
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
one clove garlic, peeled and chopped
300 ml water
2 tablespoons of arrowroot or corn starch
salt & pepper
a good handful pine nuts
- Preheat the oven to 200 °C and oil a casserole dish with a little olive oil.
- Soak the cashew in a bowl and set aside.
- In a small sauce pan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add one chopped red onion along with 2 chopped cloves of garlic and cook until aromatic and lightly browned, 5 minutes total.
- Add the the can of tomatoes, passata and season with salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.Add the fresh oregano and remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a large pot add two centimeters of water and a glug of olive oil , salt and add the swiss chard and bring to a boil cooking 5 minutes maximum and then set it aside.
- In a small pot add enough water to cover the chopped carrots and season with salt and bring to a boil. Once the water has boiled, reduce the heat and then cover with a lid and cook for about 15 minutes or until they are soft enough to puree.
- Mix the pureed carrots along with the marjoram until it is a fine puree. Season with salt and pepper and adjust to your taste.
- Sautee the red peppers with the other red onion separately in olive oil for 5 minutes and add chopped parsley and set aside.
- Finally prepare the cashew cream by draining the cashews and adding them into a mixer along with the nutritional yeast, garlic clove, salt and water and blend until completely smooth and creamy.
- Stir in the arrowroot powder and bring to boil and stir continuously until the cashew cream thickens. Remove from the heat.
- To assemble the lasagna start off with a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish, followed by the lasagna sheets, then layer with carrot puree, swiss chard, red peppers and then lasagna sheets, tomato sauce, carrot puree and so on until you reach the final layer of lasagna sheets. Now pour the entire cashew cream and end with thin strips of each ingredient. In order to have enough of each element you have to save enough for the end.
- Sprinkle with the pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil, pepper and salt.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the lasagna is lightly browned and caramelized on top. Remove from the oven, wait for 10 minutes then serve.