The journey home from work yesterday left me shivering (which is just ridiculous as it’s a 10 minute drive) and despite my renewed commitment to eat more raw foods, I knew that tonight had to be something warming. I needed serious comfort food. To me that almost always means some kind of pasta. This was one of my go-to things as a child- when I was sick my mom would make me little pasta shells with tomato sauce straight from the jar. And I loved it. To this day that is something I’ll make when I’m feeling off (although I have updated it to include a whole grain pasta and organic canned sauce :)).
But I wanted something a little more than that. I was also in the mood to cook and wanted to find a way to get in some protein and veg as well. Enter the zucchini quinoa lasagna by Mama Pea at her blog Peas and Thank You. This is a recipe I bookmarked when she first posted it and I have made it exactly to her specifications before. And it was delicious- tasted just like traditional lasagna but with the added bonus of whole quinoa instead of pasta. So tonight I decided to make it again but put my own little spin on it! Added in some spiciness (because I love spicy foods) and some tofu ricotta to ramp up the protein and changed a couple things to suit the ingredients I had at home.
I have to say, that I mayyyy just like this version better. It was super filling and exactly what I wanted, the taste of pasta with added nutrion and a little kick! Comfort and healthy food spun into one and the same :)
Zucchini Quinoa Tofu Lasagna (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free Option)
Adapted from this recipe
Serves 4 very hungry people (or 6 normal appetites)
For the tofu ricotta
- 1 block extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp basil
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- pepper to taste
For the quinoa
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1/3 cup tomato sauce
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp basil
- 1/2 a red chili, diced small
- 3 tbsp soaked cashews
- salt and pepper to taste
For the rest of the lasagna
- 2 large or 3 medium zucchini
- 1 jar organic pasta sauce (check pasta sauce for sugar if you want sugar-free!)
- 1/2 cup Daiya mozzarella
- coconut oil for greasing the baking dish
First I made the tofu ricotta. You only need about half the recipe for the lasagna so feel free to halve the recipe, or make it all and use the rest in another recipe! I’ll be sharing something to do with the leftovers soon :). To make it just take your pressed tofu and crumble it into a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. BAM done.
my super high tech tofu pressing station
I recommend using a larger bowl to mix than I did. Mixing this led to a major mess :S
Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 8×8 baking dish with coconut oil.
Next prep your zucchini. Cut a strip off one side so you have a flat base then thinly slice the zucchini length-wise into noodles. You’ll want enough so that you can make about 3 layers of the noodles in the dish. Refer to Peas and Thank You for her pictures to see about how thin they should be. And don’t worry if you can’t get them to slice perfectly. I certainly do not have the skill to get my zucchini cut as perfectly as she did! I had A LOT of half-noodles and little bits and pieces. It still works! Then line a colander or 2 with paper towel, place the zucchini in it and sprinkle with salt. This will help the zucchini release moisture so you’re lasagna will hold together better. Put another layer of paper towel on top and let sit while you prepare the quinoa.
Put the quinoa in a saucepan over medium heat and toast for a couple of minutes, stirring often. This will give a nice nutty flavour to the quinoa. When toasted, add 1 cup of water, chili, and 1/3 cup tomato sauce to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover until the liquid is absorbed, about 15 min. Take your cashews and blend with a couple splashes of water until thick and creamy. When the quinoa is done, add this cashew cream/paste to the mixture. This helps give the quinoa a creamy texture, kind of like what cheese would do in a non-vegan lasagna. Then add in the tofu ricotta and mix well. Set aside.
quinoa mixture before tofu added
Take a clean towel and pat away the moisture that has formed on the zucchini and the salt.
Now comes the time to assemble! Start by putting pasta sauce in the bottom of the baking dish, enough to cover the whole surface in a thin layer. Then put 1/3 of the zucchini noodles on top followed by 1/2 of the tofu/quinoa mixture. Cover this with pasta sauce and another zucchini layer. Then do another layering of quinoa, sauce, zucchini. Top the final layer of zucchini with the remaining pasta sauce and 1/2 cup Daiya cheese (think I said layer enough in there??)
Bake in the oven for 40 min until heated through and Daiya is melty. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting into it, or it will fall everywhere. I learned this the hard way the first time I made it…
Eat a dill pickle straight from the jar while waiting if it moves you. The aromas coming from that lasagna definitely got my stomach growling.
After 10 min it sliced perfectly!
Serve and enjoy!
Warming, comforting, filling and delicious. Not bad if I do say so myself.