Vegan Zucchini Lasagna

I woke up “needing” lasagna made with zucchini “noodles”. It was an absolute need. “Perfect,” I thought. “Now I have a recipe to create for the newsletter!”

I quickly took an inventory to see if everything needed was on hand. I had everything but the zucchini, so that was a bit of an issue, but easily fixed…phew!

Using zucchini is a brilliant alternative for those wishing pasta-like dishes, but having to avoid gluten and/or pasta altogether. Upon completion, I realized that this dish is dairy-free, gluten-free and soy-free. The only potential downside is that the “cheese” is made largely from cashews, so those with tree-nut allergies would need to modify.

For years, I’ve been making variations of nut-based cheeses, and there are numerous cookbook authors I thank for the initial introduction and ongoing inspiration. As with many of my recipes, the “cheese” recipes in today’s dish were based chiefly on what I had on hand. I’ve committed the basic recipe to memory, but adjust and tweak based on whimsy and ingredients available. I encourage you to do the same. 🙂

This recipe does take time as it’s best to let the cashews soak for several hours for the “ricotta” recipe. Soaking makes the cashews easier to blend into a creamy texture, and may also make them easier to digest. For the “Parmesan” recipe, I didn’t soak the cashews as I prefer the texture to be drier.

Should you try out the recipe, I hope you enjoy!

Vegan Zucchini Lasagna

Zucchini – you will need approximately 36 “noodles” – 12 for each layer – to fit a 9 x 13 pan
Marinara sauce – 4 cups, I used organic “store bought’…..lazy, I know…
Several generous fistfuls of organic baby spinach
Ricotta cheese – 2 cups *recipe to follow*
Parmesan cheese – *recipe to follow*

“Ricotta” Cheese
2 cups raw cashews – soaked for several hours
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon oregano
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup filtered water

Drain and rinse cashews. Place all ingredients except water in food processor or blender. Blend with occasional stops to scrape down sides. Gradually add up to half a cup of water, stopping frequently to scrape sides and test texture. Keep in fridge until ready to use.

“Parmesan” Cheese
1/2 cup raw cashews *not soaked*
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Combine in food processor or blender and store in fridge until ready to use. Will keep for several weeks in fridge.

Using mandolin or sharp knife, create 36 zucchini lasagna noodles each approximately 1/8 of an inch thick.
Very lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch lasagna dish. Spoon about a cup of marinara sauce on bottom of pan. Layer 12 zucchini noodles on top of sauce. Next, place a thin layer of baby spinach. Carefully layer approximately 1 cup of ricotta on top of spinach. Then repeat with sauce, zucchini, spinach, ricotta. Finally, a layer of sauce, zucchini, sauce, and top with a generous sprinkle of parmesan (I didn’t measure). Cover with parchment paper (because aluminum foil is SO last year!) and bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove parchment and cook an additional 15 minutes. I put the broiler on for just a few minutes to lightly brown….be careful if you do this – keep a watchful eye! Let sit for about 10 minutes, then enjoy!