11 September 2013

Lasagne Senza Cheese (and Senza Fake Cheese!) -- GF Friendly

Before y'all freak on me, senza means without.  This isn't a recipe for lasagne featuring some new cheese called senza.  (I'm sure you knew that.)  There's no cheese in here and no fake cheese, either.  I am not a fan of cheese (obviously) or fake cheese (especially after my most recent pregnancy, when I got some full-sized non-dairy 'cheese' free samples during the first trimester and thought I was going to die of grossness), so most of my recipes that might traditionally call for cheese don't have fake cheese in them.  (Notable exception -- sometimes I make a baked pasta and veggie dish with a fake mac-and-cheese-style sauce.  It's not cheesy enough to gross me out because it's more like a béchamel sauce.)

You will need tomato sauce (or even canned chopped tomatoes or tomato passata -- throw in some herbs, this will all cook up and get saucy in the oven), eggplant and/or zucchini cut into thin strips (using a vegetable peeler is the best way to do this), and possibly lasagne noodles.  If you don't want to use lasagne noodles, just use more eggplant or zucchini.  You are layering them like noodles anyway.

This got devoured in record time.
I know you know how to make lasagne because you're smart like that, but let me walk you through it anyway.

You don't need to grease your pan if you splash some sauce on the bottom.  If you are using lasagne noodles in this, you will need to splash a bit more sauce on the bottom than if you are going to just use veggies.  You don't need to cook the noodles first!  Just put the dry noodles right on in.  If you use a little extra sauce or a runnier tomato sauce -- heck, I even know a lady whose trick is to add a few glugs of red wine before throwing her lasagne into the oven -- and bake for about 40-45 minutes, the noodles will totally cook on their own.  It's all good, no worries. 

Anyway, start layering your noodles and eggplant and zucchini strips, putting layers of sauce and other goodies in-between.  When you are done, top with a layer of zucchini strips and brush with oil.  Shake a little salt and pepper over the top, too, if that's your thing.  I don't cover this with foil, but if you aren't brushing the strips with oil or using a different topping, you might want to consider covering the lasagne for the first half of the cooking time. 

Two notes about the eggplant:
  1. You don't need to salt the eggplant.  I have never salted an eggplant and no one has ever eaten my eggplanty dishes and said, "Hey, you didn't salt the eggplant first!  Rip-off!  Ptooey!"  I know there is a die-hard eggplant salter out there shaking his or her head.  Just trust me on this. 
  2. Your eggplant layers need to be really thin (about 2 thin strips deep) and it is a good idea to brush on a wee bit of oil (I find eggplant tastes much better with a little oil).  If your layers are thicker or your eggplant is sliced thicker, you will need to roast your eggplant first (or cook it in some tomato sauce until tender) or cook the lasagne for a bit longer.  Trust me on this.  Undercooked eggplant tastes gnarly.  (Zucchini cooks a lot faster, so you can make your zucch layers as thick as you like.  It also doesn't taste gross when undercooked.)
Prison Plate Lasagne
Fun layering options: 
  • Béchamel sauce (scroll down for the recipe).  (GF people, make it with cornstarch or something like that.  It is still just as awesome.)  I got this idea from an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.
  • Spinach.  This is my favourite.  I just use thawed and drained, frozen whole leaf spinach.  You can mix in a little tomato sauce to flavour it up, if you like.
  • Tofu.  You can either add it in strips or crumble it.  Silken or non-silken will do.  
  • TVP.  Mix that shizzle in with some sauce.  
  • Shredded carrots and onions.  Or either-or.  You don't have to cook them first if you are shredding them because they will cook thoroughly when the lasagne is baking.  I like to spoon on a layer of sauce and top with a thick layer of finely shredded red onion.  Heck, throw some garlic in there, too.
  • Olives, mushrooms, and capers.  What goes with tomato sauce?  That's right, olives mushrooms, and capers.  I'll put them on my pizza and I'll put them in my lasagne.
  • Slices of fresh tomato and bell pepper.  Like I said, if you'd put it on a pizza, put it in your lasagne.  No anchovies, please!  ;D
Now, bake everything in the oven at 180ºC/350ºF for about 40-45 minutes. What are you waiting for?  It's time to eat!

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