Saturday, September 4, 2010

RECIPE: Raw and Vegan Zucchini and Tomato Lasagne

Photo (Lexi Van de Walle): Zucchini lasagna, raw and dairy free

With farmers markets and farm stands over flowing with zucchini and tomatoes, and my desire to experiment with raw, dairy- and wheat- free recipes, I decided to whip up a "lasagna".

Inspired by my recent trip to the amazing Pure Food and Wine Restaurant in Gramercy Park and lasagna envy, I bought a copy of Raw Food Real World by Chefs Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis. And just in time for my summer vacation, I splurged on a VitaMix commercial grade uber-blender which is ideal for making this recipe and the tool of choice for raw foodists for making things such as sauces and purees out of nuts and raw veggies. Don't panic carnivores, pescatarians and flexitarian locavores, I'm just experimenting with raw, vegan, wheat- and dairy- free -- all local, of course. My meat and potato loving husband LOVED this dish.

Zucchini and Green Zebra Tomato Lasagne (with basil pesto, tomato sauce, pine nut ricotta)
Adapted from Raw Food Real World

Makes 9 side dish size servings or 3 entree portions in a 9" x 9" baking dish

Dairy Free Ricotta Cheese
1 cup pine nuts, soaked for 1 hour or more
1 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoons nutritional yeast (carried in the bulk section at health food stores)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 Tablespoons water

In a food processor, add all ingredients and pulse until combined. Gradually add water and process until "fluffy, like ricotta".

Tomato and Mushroom Sauce (RAW FOOD's recipe is for Tomato Sauce, I added the mushrooms
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked for 2 hours or more
(use the dried tomatoes in a package NOT the ones that are marinating in olive oil)
1/2 cup dried mushrooms, soaked for 20 minutes (I buy local dried mushrooms at the farmers market)
1 small ripe red tomato (local)
1/8 cup virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of hot pepper flakes
Optional: 2 teaspoons of agave nectar

Squeeze and drain the mushrooms and the sun-dried tomatoes. Add the drained vegetables to a Vita-Mix or high-speed blender along with all of the ingredients. (I omitted the agave nectar from my lasagna). Blend until smooth.

Basil Pesto
1 cup of packed basil leaves
1/4 cup pistachio nuts (I used pine nuts because I ran out of pistachio nuts)
1/8 of a cup of olive oil or a little more
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
pinch of black pepper

Using a food processor, combine the above ingredients and blend until slightly chunky.

2 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped finely
1/2 Tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
2 medium zebra tomatoes, thinly sliced
Whole basil leaves

Using a mandoline set to make 1/8 of an inch slices or a vegetable peeler, make zucchini "noodles" by cutting the zucchini crosswise into lengths to mimic "lasagna noodles". Toss the zucchini with the olive oil, herbs and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Using 1/3 of the zucchini slices, line the bottom of a 9 x 9 inch glass baking dish with a layer of zucchini, each one slightly overlapping the next. Spread about 1/3 of the tomato sauce over the zucchini using a butter knife, followed by 1/3 of the ricotta cheese. Top with 1/3 of the zebra tomato slices. Add another layer of zucchini and repeat until you have three layers of each (save the best looking zebra tomato slices for the top layer).

Let sit for a few hours and garnish with whole basil leaves before serving as a side dish or entree. Tastes great the next day.

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