In the many months since my last post, I learned something new about myself. I’mlactose intolerant. Boo.
Apparently it’s common for people to produce less of the enzyme responsible for digesting lactose as they get older, but nevertheless I’m feeling a bit betrayed by my body. Betrayed and a bit in denial.
Luckily, I’ve also learned that there are some delicious (and simple!) replacements for traditional cream sauces: a prime example being this pesto cream sauce.
I was inspired by this recipe (cauliflower and cashews, brilliant!), but I made some alterations to cater it to my tastes. This sauce is so rich and hearty, but not heavy and cloying like many dairy-based sauces. I’ve made it twice so far, and shared it with enough people and kids to declare it picky eater approved. Lastly, don’t let the iphone photo with exactly 0 food styling dissuade you…it was so good I couldn’t wait to eat.
It’s hellishly hot, I’m running on 5 hours of sleep, and I forgot my laptop charger at work so I’m anxiously watching the battery drain, but at the moment all that matters is this lasagna.
The origins of this lasagna are a losing battle I have with cheese. Aka, I can’t stop buying new varieties of cheese. My latest impulse cheese buy was queso fresco, which, while a delicious cheese, is not a particularly versatile one. I used it once as a topping for shrimp tacos, a second time on top of refried beans, and then watched it go untouched for a week before I decided there had to be some good way to repurpose it. Enter this veggie lasagna.
It turns out crumbled queso fresco mixed with a bit of cottage cheese makes a remarkably good mock ricotta. It also turns out that layering paper thin slices of zucchini creates something similar enough pasta that it’s kind of unsettling. I added regular lasagna sheets too because pasta is delicious, but they were the no boil kind which made assembly super easy.
I haven’t even finished this batch of lasagna, and I’m already eyeing the frozen paneer since I think it’s quite similar to queso fresco. We’ll see. Very, very soon.
I’m putting the recipe under a read more because it’s a bit long, even though the actual process is quite simple.
Best Veggie Lasagna
Make one loaf sized pan of lasagna: 2 huge servings, 3 big servings, 4 regular servings
For the full ingredients list, see the bottom of the recipe.
Preparing the zucchini:
1 large zucchini
2) Create long, paper thin slices of zucchini using a vegetable peeler. Discard or save the middle of the zucchini for another use. Add the slices into a bowl with 2 cups of water + 1 tsp salt. This process will remove excess water from the zucchini and prevent it from making the lasagna watery later. After 20 minutes (make the pasta sauce while you wait!), drain and rinse the zucchini, and then pat dry with paper towels, removing as much excess water as possible.
Making the pasta sauce (or you can use 2 cups of premade pasta sauce):
Note: This makes just enough sauce. If you’re a fan of extra saucy lasagna, it might be smart to double the recipe and just store any leftovers.
1) To make the lasagna sauce, heat in a saucepan:
1 tsp oil
¼ a large onion, diced (½ cup diced onion)
1 heaping tsp diced garlic (1-2 cloves)
2) Cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Add:
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
3) Continue cooking for 5 minutes, and then add:
1 tbs tomato paste
1 13.5 ounce of no salt added tomatoes, crushed
1 tsp sugar
1 bay leaf
½ tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
4) Cook at medium heat for 15 minutes, or until the sauce is thick. Remove the bay leaf.
5) Add to taste:
Lasagna cheese filling:
Again, this is just enough cheese filling. Use 1.5 cups of ricotta cheese if you’re a fan of extra
1) In a bowl, add:
Option A: 1 cup ricotta cheese
Option B: ½ cup ricotta cheese + ½ cup cottage cheese
I’m currently learning a new skill, and it’s called: how to cook for one person and not waste any food.
I spent high school learning how to cook for myself, but I never really mastered the art of making the right amount of food, which is unfortunate because I’m not someone who’s particularly fond of leftovers.
Now that I’m living on my own and making my own meals (well, for the last two weeks, that is), I’m much more conscious of how much food to buy, and when food will expire.
Earlier this week I made mushroom potstickers, and was left with some extra dough. I decided to repurpose the dough as noodles, and create a sauce with whatever I had in the fridge. This ended up being some extra zucchini, fresh peas that I’ve been meaning to use up, canned tuna for protein, parmesan, and a sunny side up egg since I decided the dish wasn’t saucy enough.
This pasta was so, so good. I’m already ready to go buy more vegetables, just so I’ll have an excuse to make it again.
Zucchini, Peas, and Tuna Pasta
2-3 ounces pasta, dried or fresh
1 large zucchini, sliced into thin coins
¼ cup onion, diced
½ cup peas (I used a cup on account of having way too many peas, but I think half a cup would be more reasonable)
2 ounces tuna
1 tsp oil
1 tsp soy sauce (or salt, to taste)
½ tbs parmesan
Cook pasta according to directions, and set aside.
Heat up oil at medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and sauteed for a minute, or until golden brown. Add the zucchini and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, or until the zucchini is soft, and its edges are somewhat golden. Add peas and continue cooking until they soften. Stir in soy sauce and tuna.
Add the pasta to the pan, sprinkle with the parmesan, and then set aside.
Cook the egg however you like it. Since the pasta doesn’t have a very “saucey” sauce, I made a sunny side up egg which I stirred into the pasta. The yolk coated the noodles, which was really delicious.