I have a confession: I don’t like casseroles. Or at least, I don’t think I like casseroles. It’s not as though I’ve made that many any, or even eaten that many – it’s just that the idea of a casserole grosses me out. In theory, it’s a tolerable proposition – several types of tasty foods are combined, and then cooked together to form a pleasing end product. I think my aversion stems from the fact that the potential for a disastrous texture seems rather high. (don’t even get me started on tortilla chip casseroles – you mean you WANT soggy chips? *swallowing vigorously*) Or perhaps it’s because I had a tramautic experience as a child (under no circumstances should ‘leftovers’ (plural!) and ‘casserole’ be in the same sentence. Enough said.) Whatever the case, I haven’t ever made a casserole for myself, short of baked macaroni and cheese/yeast or lasagna. So, if anyone has any tips/recipes/techniques to help the sog-phobic among us, I would be much obliged. Without further ado, here is my most recent take on a dish spared only by virtue of it’s dividing noodles.
It’s common knowledge that lasagna is not the most photogenic of foods, and mine was no exception to that rule:
Therefore, I have devised a way in which to show you the layers, sans mess:
Ingenious, no? : )
From the top:
-The delicious pine nut cream is from VeganYumYum. I blended mine with enough extra water to make a more liquid consistency, and one cup of pine nuts was enough to cover a 9×13” lasagna. This stuff is crazy-good!
-I cooked 20 oz. of spinach, and many (maybe 20) cremini mushrooms for this layer, and seasoned it only with some salt and pepper.
-My tomato sauce was essentially a 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes, ~1/4 c. tomato paste, 6 cloves garlic, and a blend of basil, oregano, thyme, pepper, and a bay leaf. I add a little water, and then simmer, uncovered, until it thickens up and tastes delicious. Allow to cool (and remove the bay leaf!) and then blend.
-The tofu ricotta is from the Veganomicon, which has never steered me wrong. (except for the creole stuffed peppers – has anyone else been unimpressed with that recipe!?)
-I roasted one large eggplant, peeled and cut into thin (1/4 -1/2 in. thick) strips. Next time I would use another/more eggplant. I brushed the strips with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and popped them into a 400F oven until tender and creamy. Although this method does use a bit of oil, it uses substantially less than pan-frying. If you announced to me that you were going off in search of a no-fat way of preparing eggplant, I would send you away with good luck wishes – and a vial of olive oil. You know, just in case…..(but seriously, is it possible?)
Going through this makes me wish I hadn’t tucked the leftovers away in the freezer quite so fast!