Vegan Pesto Cream Sauce


In the many months since my last post, I learned something new about myself.  I’m lactose 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.

Now to figure out a way to make my favorite lasagna ever without cheese.

Vegan Pesto Cream Sauce

Makes ~2 ½ cups sauce

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add:

  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 2 white mushrooms* (use 1 or omit if not fond of mushrooms)
  • 4 florets cauliflower, ~¾ cup

Boil for around 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is soft. Next, strain the boiled mixture and add to a high speed blender with:

  • 1 cup unsweetened cashew or almond milk**
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast***

Blend until completely smooth and then add:

  • 2-3 tablespoons non-dairy pesto****
  • salt, to taste

The sauce is ready! Heat up in a saucepan or microwave and add to pasta, gnocchi, vegetables, lasagna or whatever else you can think of.

Store any extra sauce in the fridge. It stores and reheats perfectly!

*I looove mushrooms and used baby bella mushrooms for the sauce pictured. I’ve also used shiitake.

** Be careful to not use vanilla cashew milk. The packaging is almost the same.

***I thought I despised nutritional yeast, but it turns out the brand I had tried (Bob’s Red Mill) has a very strong taste. I much prefer this brand.

****Most pestos have parmesan cheese, but I found a brand without any.


Best Veggie Lasagna


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.

Recipe ahead.

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) Obtain:

  • 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:

  • salt
  • pepper

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
  • Option C: 5 ounces crumbled queso fresco + ¼ cup cottage cheese + 2 tbs egg whites

2) Stir in:

  • 2 tbs grated parmesan
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt

3) Cook at medium heat until wilted.

  • 1 cup spinach leaves

Once the spinach cools, chop roughly and stir into the cheese. Set aside.

To assemble the lasagna:

1) First, gather:

  • the prepared zucchini
  • 1 recipe pasta sauce
  • 1 recipe ricotta cheese filling
  • 3 lasagna noodles
  • 1 tbs grated parmesan
  • ¼ cup shredded mozzarella

2) Add ¼ of the pasta sauce (½ cup approximately) to the bottom of a greased 9×5 loaf pan.

3) Top with 1 lasagna noodle.

4) Spread 1/3 of the cheese filling (1/3 cup approximately) over the lasagna noodle and any exposed sauce.

5) Add a layer of the zucchini slices, using approximately ¼ of the slices.

6) Repeat steps 2-5.

7) Repeat steps 2-5. By now you should have used up the cheese, zucchini, and noodles, but have ¼ of the sauce left.

8) Top the lasagna with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with the grated parmesan and shredded mozzarella.

9) Cover the pan with a piece of aluminum foil and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 5 minutes more, or until the mozzarella is melted and bubbly.

Full Ingredients List:

  • 1 tsp oil
  • ¼ a large onion, diced (½ cup diced onion)
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 heaping tsp diced garlic (1-2 cloves)
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 13.5 ounce of no salt added tomatoes, crushed
  • ½ tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese or ½ cup ricotta cheese + ½ cup cottage cheese or 5 ounces crumbled queso fresco + ¼ cup cottage cheese + 2 tbs egg whites
  • 3 tbs parmesan
  • ¼ cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt & pepper
  • no boil lasagna noodles

Zucchini, Peas, and Tuna Pasta


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
  • 1 egg

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.