I’m not going to delay you with stories of my personal “vegan journey” because I make this recipe even when I’m not eating vegan. Why? Because its gosh darn delicious, that's why. And you’re here for a recipe, not to hear me rabbit on. So with that said. LET’S GET DOWN TO BIZNESS.
This recipe was inspired by this post by the lovely @heart-to-heart I’ve also posted easy recipe cards and ingredient’s lists at the bottom of this post, because I love you, and I really want you to give this one a try, even if you’re not Vegan!
A term I used to use a lot on my old food blog
There are two main elements to this recipe, the “filling” and the “cheese”. Even though I’m a red sauce purist, I wouldn’t even worry about that bit. Any good sauce from a jar that you like is fine, I prefer a plain marinara so that it doesn’t compete with the awesome flavors were about to load this bad boy up with.
You can use baby versions of both the eggplant and bok choi, or their adult counterparts, I just find that they're both a little easier to break down.
First we’ve got to cook the veg. I’d recommend with starting with heating some olive oil and chopped garlic in the bottom of a large pot, and get those mushrooms and eggplant in there first. They’re going to take the longest.
PROTIP! Don’t forget the salt! Both eggplant and mushrooms have a ton of excess moisture, so salt will add flavor and also draw out their aqueous nature, helping them cook a little more quickly.
When the eggplant and mushrooms are about 3/4 of the way there, meaning they’re beginning to soften, you can add your bok choi.
I like stack and then roll the leaves and chop them Chiffonade style, because I’m a professional damnit!!
While the veg is doing its lovely garlicky, olive oil thang in the pot, feel free to reduce the heat to medium and start on your cashew “cheese”.
There’s absolutely zero way to screw this part up, so let me give you free license now, to make this taste however you prefer. It may take a few blends so get it just the way you like it, but the “cheesy” notes I’m looking for usually come through with extra onion powder, salt, and a dash of garlic powder. Again, you probably know what ricotta cheese tastes like so feel free to have a play and express your cheesy self.
Some folks claim that if you have a super high powered blender like a vitamin or bullet you won’t need to soak your cashews over night, but I didn’t want to take any chances. If you’re short on time, a good hour or two soak will certainly help as well, it doesn’t effect the taste, just the smoothness factor. Follow your cashew dreams, I’m not here to tell you what to do.
Now it’s time to assemble!
Like any great Megazord or Transformer, there are important steps, SO PAY ATTENTION!
I bought “no boil” lasagna noodles, (if you’re vegan, check to make sure they weren’t made with eggs btw). No-boil basically means they’re ready to go into your 13x9 baking pan dry without having to pre boil or cook them. Either way, follow the directions on the box. They’ll guide you on what to do.
Get yourself set up with your sauce, your cheese, and your lovely veggie filling for an assembly line type setup.
1- a layer of sauce goes down in the baking pan- your noodles are going to cook using the moisture of the sauce so we’re going to make sure they’re covered with every layer….
2- lay those noodles in any direction that speaks to you, I started long ways. Don’t be afraid to use broken pieces and shards. No one will complain and it’ll make your lasagna more “rustic” —oooohhh!
3- Next spread an even layer of veg, for this recipe I was able to make 3layers so ration your distribution accordingly.
4- BLOB TIME- dot blobs of cheese all around, don’t worry about spreading them out- the weight of oncoming layers plus the heat of the oven will make everything melt together… mmm
5- Your next layer will be, you guessed it pasta except here you'll alternate the direction, (Why? I have no idea, but that's how grandma tought me ARE YOU SAYING MY NONNA IS WRONG!!!?!) then sauce then veg then cheese, repeat until you’re out of ingredients, or you’ve reached a height you’re happy with. I like to end with veg and cheese on the top layer….
At this point you can get creative with a drizzle of olive oil, cracked black pepper, oregano or basil or crushed red pepper if ya dig a little heat, whatever your inner culinary Pollock leads you to create. Cover your masterpiece with tin foil, and bake at 450 for 45 min (or whatever they tell you on your box of pasta)
PROTIP! I remove my tin foil for the last 10-15 minutes of baking to get nice crispy edges and a little browning action on top. COME FOR ME FOOD NETWORK!!!
…. 40-ish AGONIZING MINUTES LATER….
…. drops mic, walks away.
…. comes back because it smells too good.
I hope you enjoyed, or at least were entertained, this really brought me back to my old food blogging/photography days- if you want more food recipe posts, or have any questions let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to help ya out.- RECIPE CARDS BELOW!
Until next time friends!