Nut-Free Semi-Raw Lasagna

by - July 27, 2014

 The first time I had a raw vegan lasagna, I was in SAF in London. I can't quite remember what I thought about it, not because it was unmemorable but because I had eaten A LOT of food that day (as one is expected to on a day trip to London). I remember going to Borough Market afterwards and going to town on the free samples of turkish delight... but that is a story for another day.
  Anyway, back to that raw lasagna. It struck me, several days ago, that the regular raw vegan population can sometimes be entirely dependent on cashews. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, I mean: Cashews are great! But (a) they are expensive; (b) not great for people with a nut allergy; and (c) cashew cheese can sometimes weigh down a dish a tad too much.
  Wait! Before you write me off as dissing the humble cashew, let me explain myself. As a die-hard cashew cheese advocate, I do believe that cashew cheeses deserve their very own food group in everyone's diets. If a dish has ever begun to display signs of becoming a trainwreck, throw in a cup of cashew cheese to salvage the situation (and have a kick ass meal from it). However! Sometimes there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. I love my raw lasagnas with enough toppings and stuffings and fillings to feed a small country (I exaggerate, but...). So cashew cheese is probably not the best idea. 
Tofu cheese // 'Shroomy chunky tomato paste
  Introducing tofu! Every vegan (I hope) knows that tofu is a miracle ingredient. It acts as a binder in baked goods, makes a scrummy scramble when crumbled and fried, and can even be blended into mousses and cheesecakes and puddings. Here is another thing to add to the list: it can mimic soft cheeses. I don't really know what cheese I was going for here, exactly, but it was definitely cheese-like. Probably a mix up between a cottage and a ricotta. I don't know much (or anything!) about cheeses, so forgive me. Either way, tofu makes a good cashew-cheese alternative in our humble raw lasagna. 

Fun food fact! A pine nut is not a nut (say what?), but a seed.

I have mastered the art of spreading and camera holding at the same time

  In addition to sounding very unusual, this lasagne is a beauty. My pictures do not do her justice! Next time you have a vegan 'round for dinner (or are throwing an ultra fab cruelty-free dinner partayy), whip this up. She is dressed to impress.
  And she tastes good too, obviously.

Nut-Free Semi-Raw Lasagna
Serves: 3 small servings, perfect as appetisers 

1 green zucchini

1 block extra firm tofu, drained
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp miso paste
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (can sub dried thyme)
Juice of 1/2 a small lemon
Pink Himalayan salt, to taste

3 sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in water for minimum 8 hours
3 tbsp olive oil (or use a combination of oil and soaking water from the sun-dried tomatoes)
10 button mushrooms
1/4 cup passata sauce (or any 100% tomato sauce)
1 tbsp oregano, dried
1/4 cup pine nuts
salt, if necessary as tomatoes are already very salty

Cherry tomatoes and alfalfa for garnishing

First, use a mandoline or vegetable peeler to get thin, even strips from your zucchini. Set them aside in the refrigerator as you assemble the rest of your components. 

Roughly chop your drained tofu into cubes, place in a bowl with nutritional yeast, miso, garlic and onion powder, thyme and lemon juice. Mash wish a fork until you get your desired consistency, I prefer mine to still have small chunks here and there, kind of like cottage cheese with small curds. season with salt and set aside.

Remove tomatoes from soaking water, place in a blender with the oil and mushrooms and blend until it forms a paste. Add the passata, oregano, pine nuts and blend. Season with salt if necessary.

Now, assembly! Cut each zucchini strip down the centre to get two halves of the strip. Now lay those two strips side-by-side, overlapping slightly to obtain an almost square-like shape. Repeat this with another slice to get your first 'pasta' layer. Top with the tofu cheese, then another 'pasta layer' with two layers of zucchini. Follow with your tomato sauce, two layers of zucchini, more tofu, two layers of zucchini. Then garnish with alfalfa sprouts and cherry tomatoes. Repeat this until you have three (you may manage more, but I like more in each lasagna) little beauties. If you are not eating this immediately, keep it in the fridge and serve it cold! 

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