This weekend, my husband experimented with a lasagna recipe.
When we first started dating, he made me a delicious chicken lasagna with a white sauce. I enjoyed the leftovers for days and I didn’t like to share. It was that good. When we made the switch from carnivore to vegan, we played with a couple different lasagna recipes, but they couldn’t compete with his chicken lasagna–until now!
As I dug into my slice of lasagna last night, I said, “I haven’t eaten anything like this since we became vegan and gluten-free.” It was creamy, cheesy, and rich. And, completely worth every single calorie.
Ingredients for the deconstructed portabella sausage:
2 tablespoons EVOO
24 ounces portabella mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon roasted fennel seeds
1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup parsley, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
Ingredients for the sauce:
2 tablespoons gluten-free all purpose flour
2 cups red wine
2 28 ounces cans crushed fire roasted tomatoes
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
Ingredients for the tofu ricotta:
1 pound extra firm tofu, drained and crumbled
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 ½ teaspoons white miso
1 lemon, juiced
½ teaspoon black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
20 ounces gluten-free lasagna noodles, undercooked by 2 mins
2 packages Daiya mozzarella
½ cup gluten-free panko bread crumbs
Directions to make the sausage:
1. Over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pan, cook the mushrooms in the EVOO, adding the remaining ingredients after a few minutes. The mushrooms should reduce and give off some liquid during this process.
2. After about 15 minutes, most of the mushrooms should be reduced and the liquid should be almost gone.
Directions to make the sauce:
1. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the flour to the sausage mixture, and stir constantly for about 2 minutes.
2. Pour in the red wine and let it reduce. After about 10 minutes, the red wine should be reduced by about half.
3. Add in the fire roasted tomatoes and Italian seasoning, and reduce the heat to low.
4. Simmer during the rest of the process, or for about 30 minutes, whichever is shorter.
Directions to make the ricotta:
1. With the exception of the tofu, mix all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl.
2. Crumble the tofu in the bowl and mix well.
Directions to make the lasagna:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large lasagna pan, put about 2 ladles of the portabella sausage sauce in the bottom of the pan. This will keep the noodles from sticking and burning at the bottom of the pan.
3. Place the lasagna noodles at the bottom, making sure to overlap the noodles.
4. Put ½ of the ricotta mixture, 1/3 of the mozzarella, 1/3 of the sauce on top.
5. Place more lasagna noodles on the top of that, and repeat one more time.
6. Place the remaining noodles on the last layer, and cover with the remaining sauce, cheese, then the bread crumbs.
7. Cook uncovered in the oven for 1 hour, letting the cheese melt and bread crumbs brown. You may want to use the broiler for the last few minutes to achieve the perfect top crust.
8. Let the lasagna stand for about 20 minutes before cutting so that it can set up without losing continuity.
My husband’s tips:
1. Use a red wine you want to drink. We used Newman’s Own Organic Cabernet Sauvignon.
2. You can try different mixtures for the deconstructed sausage recipe, I used a version of ingredients usually found in sweet Italian sausage. The roasted fennel really gives the mushrooms a sausage smell and taste.
3. Make sure to undercook the noodles–they will continue cooking in the oven as the lasagna bakes. We used rice noodles, which are gross overcooked. They turned out perfectly when undercooked by about 2 minutes.
4. As soon as you drain the noodles, put them in a cold water bath to slow down the cooking process and it makes them easier to handle.
5. Don’t skip out on the flour or wine, the flour makes sort of a roux, and the wine adds depth to the sauce.
6. I like fire roasted tomatoes rather than just regular in savory dishes like this.
7. We’ve just learned to season the pasta water really well. Use enough salt to make you uncomfortable (about three tablespoons kosher salt). I’ve heard that the pasta water should taste like soup. It really makes a difference. And, a little bit of oil when cooking to keep the noodles from sticking together.
8. April says that this lasagna tasted even better a day later. I think that the flavors have a better chance to marry over time.