I was asked, “How can you call it lasagna when you remove the meat and cheese, two of the three main ingredients?” My response to that question is to just taste it! One bite and you’ll be hooked! Yes, there are a lot of ingredients and several steps to put this together, this is not a beginners recipe, but it is well worth the effort.
Of all the ingredients in my lasagna recipe, I’m focusing on just two of them here in the twist. The other ingredients are more common in several dishes and their health benefits are covered with other recipes.
Seitan is a hearty Asian meat substitute made from wheat gluten which offers high protein and other nutritional benefits. It is a low fat food with only about 2 grams of fat in a half cup serving. When made with whole wheat flour it is high in iron with about 20% of the RDA per half cup averages and contains about 10 grams of carbohydrates, however, commercial brands tend to have less carbohydrates. The protein in seitan is quite high with 26 grams per one half cup serving which is more than 50% of the recommended daily allowance. Seitan made with whole wheat flour has about 3.6 mg of iron per half-cup serving, or 20 percent of the recommended daily allowance. Commercial brands can contain as little as 1 percent to 2 percent of the recommended daily allowance.
To tofu or not to tofu….that is the question. After wading through all the controversy over soy products, I have come to the conclusion that most soy products are health promoting, especially given that native Asian cultures who have eaten soy products over the course of thousands of years tend to produce long-lived, disease free, healthy individuals. However, keep in mind that too much of a good thing isn’t necessarily good. In other words, don’t try your hardest to eat more soy just because it’s beneficial it can be a high allergy food and there are other health promoting foods to eat as well. With that said, research indicates that soy can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, improve cardiovascular health, and alleviate many of the symptoms of menopause. It is high in protein, is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids and many minerals including iron which is essential for the transportation of oxygen in through the blood, copper which provides flexibility of the blood vessels and helps reduce symptoms of arthritis, selenium and manganese which disarm free radicals and protect against cancer causing toxins.
Red Lasagna Sauce:
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1 cup seitan, sliced
1/2 cup textured vegetable protein
4 cans (15 oz.) tomato sauce
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
2 T each of fresh thyme, oregano and rosemary
1 t ground fennel
1 t red pepper flakes
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t kelp powder*
2 lbs. sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup shiraz red wine (one small bottle)
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (Earth Balance)
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups almond milk
1/2 t nutmeg
Herbed Tofu Cheese:
2 (1 lb.) pkgs. firm tofu, pressed and crumbled
1/4 cup Vegenaise
3 T apple cider vinegar
1 t Himalayan sea salt*
1/2 t dry mustard
4 cloves garlic
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup minced fresh basil
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 pkg. (1 lb.) whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 pkg. (8oz) Diaya mozzarella shreds
To make the red lasagna sauce, sauté onion until beginning to caramelize, add carrot dices. Add the next 4 ingredients to the onion mixture. Add all the fresh herbs and spices blending well. Set aside.
Sauté the sliced mushrooms until they release their juices and most of the liquid evaporates (some of the liquid may need to be drained off). Add the red wine and reduce until the wine barely coats the mushrooms. Remove from heat and set aside.
Make a white sauce by melting the non-hydrogenated margarine in a saucepan. Add the whole wheat flour, stir until smooth. Add the almond milk and nutmeg stirring until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.
To make the herbed tofu cheese layer, first press and crumble the tofu by wrapping each block of tofu tightly in 4 paper towel sheets and place on a plate and cover with a second plate placed upside down on them, then 1 to 2 heavy books placed on top of the second plate to apply a little pressure. Allow the juices to be pressed out for about 20 minutes. Remove the tofu from the paper towels and crumble into a bowl. Add the next 8 ingredients to the crumbled tofu. Stir to combine and set aside.
To assemble the lasagna: In a large lasagna pan or roasting pan lay down a small amount of the red lasagna sauce. Top with a layer of 7 of the dry noodles and layer with more red lasagna sauce. Spread with half of the tofu mixture and then half of the white sauce. Layer with half of the remaining dry noodles, then red lasagna sauce, all of the mushrooms and then the remaining white sauce. Top with the remaining dry noodles, the rest of the tofu mixture and then the remaining red lasagna sauce. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes until noodles are completely cooked through. Sprinkle with the Diaya mozzarella shreds, return to the oven briefly to slightly melt and toast the final top layer. Serves 12 to 15. ©Janice Moreland http://thekitchentwist.com