Sunday, October 10, 2010

Freaky Harvest Lasagna

#1. Check out the date: it's 10/10/10! That only happens...well, now! Let's all take a moment to contemplate the "whoaness" of this moment in time.

Okay, that's enough.

#2. The title of this post was inspired by this seasonal classic at McSweeney's Internet Tendency.

#3. I made this freaky-ass seasonal casserole one bright, chilly October Sunday, inspired by a recipe I'd seen somewhere on the Food Network. Of course, that recipe featured eggs, butter, and several types of cheese, along with the squash. Being vegan and all, we don't use eggs or dairy, nor was there a squash in sight, but I did have a whole bunch of sweet potatoes, so I figured, "Why not?"

And I'm very glad I did, because the result was an unqualified triumph, and made enough leftovers to feed off for a few days, which is always a plus. It looks like a lot of steps, but it actually took less than two hours, because you can make the spinach ricotta and the sauce while the sweet potatoes are baking, and it's a nice way to spend an autumn afternoon. So fire up that oven and make a pan the next time you feel like hanging out for awhile in a nice warm kitchen, because guess what season it is? That's right - it's fall, bitches!

Freaky Harvest Lasagna
The Spinach Ricotta
~ 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in boiling water at least 30 minutes
~ 1 lb. extra firm tofu
~ 1/4 cup lemon juice
~ 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
~ 2 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 tsp. each salt, basil
~ 1 10 oz. package baby spinach
~ Fresh black pepper

~ Drain the cashews, combine with remaining ingredients in a food processor, and blend to a smooth, delicious paste. (Easy, wasn't it?)

The Sweet Potatoes
~ 6 large sweet potatoes, pierced with a knife
~ 1 tsp. salt
~ 1/2 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk

~ Place on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees fahrenheit for about an hour, or until soft.
~ Remove from oven, allow to cool, and remove flesh from skins.
~ In a bowl, mash the sweet potato, salt, and soy milk. Set aside.

The Sauce
~ 2 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 cup onion, minced
~ 2 tbsp. garlic, minced
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, sage, basil, parsley
~ 1/2 tsp. each: oregano, thyme
~ 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
~ 3 tbsp. flour
~ 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
~ 6 cups plain, unsweetened soy milk
~ Shot of hot sauce (optional)

~ Heat the soy milk in a beaker or saucepan until almost boiling.
~ In a large, deep skillet or pot, saute the onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat, about 5 minutes.
~ Add the seasonings and cook another minute or two.
~ Add the flour and stir to make a roux, Then begin adding the soy milk, abot a cup at a time, whisking until smooth with each addition.
~ Stir in the nutritional yeast and the hot sauce (if using), and continue cooking about 5 minutes more, until the sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon.
~ Remove from heat and set aside.

~ 12 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained according to package directions
~ 1 cup panko crumbs
~ Paprika and parsley for garnish

The Assembly
~ Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit
~ Coat a 9 x 13" casserole with cooking spray.
~ Ladle about 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of the casserole and spread it around.
~ Overlap 4 sheets of lasagna in the bottom of the pan.
~ Spread half the sweet potato mixture over the noodles, followed by half the spinach ricotta and half the sauce. Cover with 4 more lasagna noodles and repeat.
~ Top with one last layer of pasta, then pour the remaining sauce over the whole shebang, smoothing it out with a rubber spatula so that it can ooze down into the layers below while it bakes.
~ Sprinkle with panko crumbs, dust with a little paprika and parsley, then cover with foil and bake 40 minutes at 400 degrees.
~ Remove foil, and bake another 15-20 minutes, until browned and beautiful.
~ Allow to rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.
~ Serve hot (ideally, surrounded with an an insanely ornate assortment of shellacked vegetables).


  1. Yay for tomato-free lasagnas! I just bought some lasagna noodles and will give this a try!

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