Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mediterranean Lasagna

Lasagna is a fantastic vegan entree, because though every version will contain layers of lasagna noodles, your options for fillings are pretty much endless. Give your lasagna a Hellenic spin by adding artichokes, spinach, and salty vegan feta.

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups chopped leek*
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 (14-ounce) drained can artichoke hearts
  • 1 (7-ounce) drained bottle roasted red bell peppers
  • 1 cup drained canned cannellini beans
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups plain non-dairy milk
  • 4 ounces crumbled vegan feta (such as Veg Cuisine)
  • 3 tablespoons vegan Parmesan sprinkles, divided (such as Galaxy Foods)
  • 6 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed**
  • 3/4 cup shredded Daiya mozzarella, divided
1 Heat a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat.  Add the leek, onion, dried mint, fennel, and garlic cloves; saute for 5 minutes.

2. Coarsely chop the artichoke hearts and chop the red bell pepper.  Add to the pan and saute for 3 minutes.  Stir in the cannellini beans; remove from heat and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Gradually add the milk, stirring with a whisk until blended, and continue to cook for about 4 to 6 minutes, until thick.  Remove from heat and add the feta and 2 tablespoons Parmesan sprinkles.

4. Spread 1/4 cup of this feta sauce into the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with 2 lasagna noodles, half of the leek mixture, half of the spinach, 1/4 cup mozzarella, and 1/2 cup feta sauce.

5. Repeat the layers: 2 lasagna noodles, the remaining leek mixture, the remaining spinach, 1/4 cup mozzarella, and 1/2 cup feta sauce, topped by a final 2 lasagna noodles.

6. Pour the remaining feta sauce over the noodles.  Sprinkle with the final 1/4 cup mozzarella and 1 tablespoon Parmesan sprinkles.  Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes.  Uncover and bake a final 15 minutes.  Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting into 6 portions.

*I recommend chopping leeks first, then rinsing in a colander, otherwise you'll never get the dirt and sand from between all the layers.

**To avoid a watery lasagna filling, drain the spinach once thawed, and squeeze dry over a colander before adding to the lasagna.

Nutrition Info:
6 servings (1 portion), Calories 341

Tasting Notes:
Every layer of this is wonderful - the noodles bake perfectly in the sauce, which is cheesy and creamy without being heavy. The vegetable mixture is great, although I would leave out the cannellini beans next time; even knowing they provide good protein, they were out of place here. I would also use less leek and more artichoke.  Chopped olives or sun-dried tomatoes would be great additions to the mix. The mint and fennel smelled fantastic while this was cooking, so I was a touch disappointed they didn't taste as strong as they had smelled. Overall, a filling and hearty entree; I especially loved the Parmesan sprinkles on top.


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