Cashew Cream Lasagna

Oct 14, 2013

shroom-pxBy Jennie Cook
Who Wants Seconds? Sociable Suppers for Vegans, Omnivores & Everyone in Between

Jennie will be discussing and signing her newly-released cookbook on Friday, October 18th, 7 p.m. at Vroman’s Bookstore.

If a vegan is coming to dinner, this lasagna would make them very happy. It’s a classic white lasagna with a dairy-free twist. The cashew cream is made ahead, making assembly a snap.

Prep time: 15 minutes, plus Cashew Cream Sauce, Tofu Crumbles, and Nu Cheese
Cooking time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Serves 8 to 10

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to drizzle
1 pound mushrooms (any kind), sliced
1 cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces fresh spinach, cleaned and roughly chopped
12 ounces (about ¾ of a package) lasagna noodles (traditional or no-boil)
1 batch Savory Cashew Cream Sauce (see below)
1 cup Tofu Crumbles (see below)
½ cup Nu Cheese (see below)

Preheat oven to 350º. Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking dish and set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil and sauté mushrooms, onion, and garlic until soft, about 8 minutes. Set aside.

To assemble lasagna, pour a scant cup of Cashew Cream Sauce in the bottom of the pan. Cover with 1 layer of lasagna noodles, edge to edge. Top with ½ of the spinach, ⅓ of the sautéed mushrooms and onion, and ⅓ of the Tofu Crumbles. Add 1 ½ cups Cashew Cream Sauce, distributing as evenly as possible. Add second layer of noodles and press down lightly. Add remaining ½ of spinach, then ⅓ of mushroom-onion mixture, ⅓ cup Tofu Crumbles, and 2 cups sauce. Cover with a layer of noodles, reserving 1 noodle.

On the top layer, add remaining mushroom mixture and Tofu Crumbles. Break up reserved noodle and scatter it on top. completely cover scattered noodles with the remaining 1 ½ cup sauce. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Nu Cheese. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove foil and continue cooking until golden brown and a knife inserted into the middle comes out easily (ensuring cooked noodles), about 10 minutes.


Savory Cashew Cream Sauce

This is the best sauce for savory foods, especially vegan lasagna and vegan quiche. It makes a fantastic mushroom bread pudding, and it’s a great gravy base. It tastes better if you let the cashew mixture soak overnight; just make sure to warm it up before puréeing it so it gets smooth.

Prep time: 15 minutes, plus soaking time
Cooking time: About 25 minutes
Makes about 7 cups

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 chopped shallots or ½ cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup white wine
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
4 cups rice or other nondairy milk, plus more if needed
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups whole unsalted cashews, preferably raw
8 ounces tofu

Place large saucepan over medium-high heat, add olive oil, and sauté shallots and garlic until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add wine, bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme and reduce until wine is almost completely evaporated, another 10 minutes. Add rice milk, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper and heat until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat. Add cashews and leave them to soak in the warm milk mixture for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight, refridgerated. While still warm (reheat if chilled overnight), remove bay leaves and thyme stems and purée mixture in a powerful blender with the tofu until smooth, drizzling in more milk if needed to make a creamy consistency. If you prefer a super-smooth finished sauce, strain it through a fine-mesh seive.


Tofu Crumbles

I love these roasted crumbles not just on polenta and pasta but on salads, too. They add a nice texture, and the miso-tahini blend packs a surprisingly delicious punch. I like them cooked until well done, but they are also tasty when golden brown—try them both ways.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Makes about 2 ½ cups

2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons light-colored miso
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound (2 containers) firm tofu

Preheat the oven to 350º. Place tofu bricks in a pie pan in the sink. Put another pie pan on top of the tofu and weight the pan down with a large bottle of water, canned food, or a dumbbell. The water will ooze out of the tofu and reduce the cooking time. (This takes about 30 minutes.) Meanwhile, place tahini, miso, nutritional yeast, and olive oil in a large bowl and mix to combine. When the tofu feels spongy and not so wet, crumble it into tahini mixture. Spread the mixture evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until lightly browned, about 30 minutes. (Cook a little longer until darker brown if you like your crumbles darker and crispier.) Allow to cool and use as needed. Store in refrigerator.



Nu Cheeze

Nutritional yeast is a huge flavor booster for vegan cooking. It has a good deal of umami going on in there, and it really helps to add a little funkability without the fermented fish or dairy in a non-vegan Caesar. Just remember that a little goes a long way. Nutritional yeast is balanced with seeds in this parmesan-like recipe, but some people use it straight up as a pasta topper.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Makes 2 cups

½ cup nutritional yeast
½ cup toasted salted sunflower seeds
½ cup toasted salted pumpkin seeds
½ cup toasted breadcrumbs

Blend all ingredients in a processor or blender until it turns into coarse meal. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to several months and use any time instead of parmesan.

Jennie Cook is owner of Jennie Cooks Catering which provides food and services for private parties and productions, “Celebration Suppers”, vegan catering with Plant Based Parties, organic delivery, and teaching classes.

Her cookbook, Who Wants Seconds?, will be released on Tuesday, October 14th with an author’s event at Vroman’s on October 18th.






Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

Louis Jane Studios

Homage Pasadena