Thursday, March 17, 2016

Lasagna with Tofu

This lasagna with tofu from The Kitchn had been in my queue for a while. It’s vegetarian, but even with the tofu, it still calls for dairy: parmesan, ricotta and mozzarella. Parmesan (fresh parmesan that you grate yourself) is lactose-free, so that’s not a problem. I know how to make lactose-free ricotta and, as I have to keep reminding myself, it isn’t actually much of a bother to make. For the mozzarella, though, I used Daiya’s shredded mozzarella-style vegan cheese. According to the recipe, the point of the tofu is to help the lasagna slices hold their shape once they’re plated – I have to say that didn’t go as well as planned. My lasagna wasn’t photogenic, and the pieces slumped on the plate (not perhaps not as much as they would have had they been tofu-free). The tofu also gives some protein to the dish.

The problem that I encountered was that following the original directions, which call for 6 lasagna noodles per layer, I ran out of noodles before I was finished assembling the lasagna. Plus, the noodles didn’t bake all the way through, especially where there was overlap. Lasagna noodles are pretty standard in size, and I used a 9”x13” pan for the lasagna: I can fit 3 noodles per layer with no overlap, and I would recommend that you do not go over 5 noodles at the most. Other than that, try to use a good tomato sauce, and/or season your sauce (spices, herbs, garlic, etc.) before adding it to the pan. Also, the amount of roasted peppers was ridiculously small, so I wouldn’t hesitate to double that next time. What I liked about this lasagna, though, in addition to the fact that it’s good-tasting, is that it was easy to make. No boil noodles rock (as long as they cook all the way through, that is).

1 15-oz. package of extra firm tofu
1 cup lactose-free ricotta cheese (see link above)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese substitute (such as Daiya)
½ tsp. smoked paprika
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
salt and pepper, to taste
5 cups (usually 1 ½ jars) of tomato sauce
1 lb. no-boil lasagna noodles
1 15-oz. can jarred roasted peppers, or more (or roast 2 red peppers yourself), torn in small pieces
¾ cup shredded parmesan cheese

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the tofu, ricotta and mozzarella cheese with your hands. Squeeze it to get the mixture even and smooth. Add the smoked paprika, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to this cheese/tofu mixture. This may take a few minutes and your hands are the best tool in the kitchen for breaking down the tofu and getting it to evenly incorporate with the cheeses.

Preheat oven to 400 °F. Using a 9” x 13” casserole pan, place about 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the pan, smoothing it into a thin layer with the back of a spoon. Layer about 3 to 5 noodles (see note above) onto the bottom of the pan, covering the sauce as best you can. Layer on 1/3 of the jarred peppers. Place 1/3 of the tofu/ricotta mixture onto this bottom pasta/pepper layer and spread it out with your fingers (don't worry if it's not perfectly even; it will melt and become one with the pasta noodles). Lastly, pour about 1 cup of the tomato sauce onto the cheese mixture, spreading the sauce as evenly as possible (but again, don't stress about this too much). Repeat this process three times, ending with a pasta top. To this final pasta layer, add more sauce and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese all over the top.

Cover in foil and bake for about 45 minutes. Remove foil and broil on high for 3-5 minutes more. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.


malt_soda said...

Hmmm...I have both roasted peppers in a jar and lasagne noodles to use up...

Amélie said...

This is obviously a sign that you need to make this lasagna.