Monday, March 21, 2011

Unprocessed: Chef Aj's Disappearing Lasagna Recipe

In the past few weeks, Chef Aj and I have struck up a nice little friendship on Facebook. I have been reading her new cookbook Unprocessed and been really blown away by her personal story, which is the first 52 pages of the book. I couldn't put it down.

When she asked me if I would like to blog about and publish some of the recipes from the new cookbook, I was like, absolutely! To be honest, I was going to make a bunch of her recipes and then write a review of the book anyway, so getting her permission to publish the recipes along with the review is amazing.

Me: "I would love to start with your favs. I did hear that your lasagna is out of this world!"

Chef Aj: "I think the lasagna (especially the bean/kale variation) is the best recipe in the book. I also recommend the Sweet Potato Nachos and the Spicy Peanut Noodles!"

So yesterday morning I set out to make this famous Disappearing Lasagna. I do want to warn you, this is not a recipe to start when you are in a time crunch. I recommend a lazy Sunday morning for this one! The smells that will permeate your kitchen are delightful.

So without further adieu, here is the first recipe from Unprocessed.

Chef A.j.'s Disappearing Lasagna

Printable Recipe

2 boxes of no boil rice lasagna noodles (I used 1 box of whole wheat from Whole Foods and followed the directions on the box, boiling them for 4 minutes and then rinsing each noodle well in cold water)
6 cups oil-free marinara sauce

Filling No. 1:
1 box extra firm tofu, drained and wrapped in paper towel to remove excess moisture OR 2 15 oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 oz. fresh basil leaves (I used 2 Tbsp dried)
1 cup pine nuts, raw cashews or hemp seeds
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup low-sodium miso (I used regular miso)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
2 pounds frozen chopped spinach or 1 pound frozen chopped kale

Filling No. 2:
2 pounds sliced mushrooms
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup tamari
1 large red onion

4 oz can sliced olives, rinsed and drained (optional)

Faux Parmesan:
In a food processor, grind 1 cup raw cashews or almonds, 1/2 cup nutritional yeast and 1 Tbsp of salt-free seasoning, until a powdery mixture is achieved. If you like it more chunky, process less.

Make the filling in a food processor fitted with the "S" blade, by adding tofu, basil, garlic, lemon juice, miso, nutritional yeast, nuts and red pepper flakes. Puree until smooth. Add drained spinach or kale and process again.

In a large non-stick saute pan, saute chopped onion in 2 Tbsp water or broth until translucent, about 8 minutes, adding more water if necessary. Add garlic, mushrooms and tamari and saute until browned. Taste mixture, adding more garlic/tamari according to your taste. Cook until mushrooms appear to be glazed and there is no more liquid left in pan.

Pour 3 cups of the sauce in a 9"x13" lasagna pan. Place one layer of noodles on top. Cover noodles with half of tofu/spinach mix, then with half of mushroom mix. Place another layer of noodles on top and add remaining halves of tofu and mush. Place one more layer of noodles on top and smother evenly with remaining sauce. Sprinkle olives on top of sauce and sprinkle with faux parmesan. (I put black olives on top of half of the casserole for my husband and put thinly sliced red peppers on my half).

Bake uncovered 375 degrees for one hour. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

I decided to add a layer of extremely thinly sliced zucchini, 'cause I had one in the fridge that I needed to use up. It was a great addition! Next time, I'd make sure to have two zucchini around so that I could add it as two layers. The more veg, the better. 

When we ate it for lunch my husband exclaimed, "This is the best lasagna ever!" I told him to get on Facebook and send Chef Aj a message 'cause he owes it to her!' I will definitely be making this again, most likely for special occasions when I want to feed a crowd. It really is that delicious!

Check out Chef A.j.'s book and the reviews over on Amazon . . .


JL goes Vegan said...

Oh, wow. Amazing. I want to try the bean/kale version. Guess I need a new cookbook ;)

Chef AJ said...

Wow, thanks Wendy! It looks beautiful and I think you imptoved it with those zucchini slices!!!

That really is the only labor intensive recipe in the book, the rest of them are very quick and easy. I used to teach healthy cooking to the blind at the Braille Institute so almsot all of my recipes were made by them.

I'll be in Coloumbus, Ohio in November teaching at Dr. Pam Popper's Wellness Forum. Hope I get to meet you.

Love & Kale,
Chef AJ

Sherry D. said...

This looks amazing, thank you for sharing.

BuyWoWAccounts said...

The name is very catchy "Disappearing", so that lasagna would totally disappear quickly I suppose. Sounds a healthy one!

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rachel said...

I haven't been able to stop thinking about this lasagne since you posted :) Made the cannellini spinach version tonight......FABULOUS!!

Andrea said...

I got this cookbook just over a week ago. We've had the lentil loaf (even my 6 year old asked for THIRDS) and the Hale to the Kale recipe (probably my favorite so far). Looking forward to trying the lasagna. I have one eggplant in the fridge. Wonder how that would work....

laurelpaley said...

I have made that lasagne a few times, too, with a few little changes (I usually double onions in ANY recipe I make, for example). LOVE IT. AND I ahve AJ's new book. I haven't had a lot of time to cook from it, but most of the recipes ARE much more streamlined than the lasagne.

Britinini the Magnificent said...

I'll have to try the cannelini version... the tofu version was VERY tofu-y, and I'm not a huge fan of tofu flavor without any other flavors.

Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) said...

Britinini-I made the tofu version and did not find that it had that yucky tofu flavor. In fact, it was awesome! But I too will try making the bean version next.

Shea said...

Wow and Wow. We are not vegetarians but that may change with this lasagna. I made it for my family and they all loved it and asked me to make it instead of the usual meat/cheese gut bomb I usually make. What an amazing recipe. Thank you for posting.

bunsofaluminum said...

I really want to try this! I may make it for Easter, as I've been wanting something richer to celebrate, and have been being VERY STRICT with the low-fat, low cal McDougall MWL plan for all of Lent...

yeah, this shall be my entree for Easter Feast! *slurp*

Chris said...

Okay, so I may be a little late to this party, but WOW!!!!!!

I had this 4 days ago and can not stop thinking about how delicious it was.

I can't wait to make it and turn other people onto this AMAZING concoction. Is that how you spell it?

Debbie said...

When it calls for miso does it mean miso paste or soup or something else? My local food coop had a mix to make miso soup and thought that was what I needed but I wanted to confirm.

Thank you!

Wendy (Healthy Girl) said...

No, not Miso soup mix. I do think it is called Miso paste. It sure looks like a paste!

Eddel29 said...

mouthwatering! i love this recipe. thanks for sharing.

Runescape Gold said...

When i see them,i'm hungry…

Jennifer Clement said...

I made this for Christmas Eve dinner. I used the 2 cans of cannellini beans instead of tofu. I also added zucchini to my version but I diced it and cooked it with the mushrooms and onions. I used Archer Farms' Whole Wheat Lasagna noodles from Target (the only place I can find ww lasagna noodles in my town!) I didn't cook them first but since I made the lasagna a day ahead of baking, they had time to soften in the sauce. It was super, we all loved it, and I'll definitely be making it regularly as time allows! BTW - your pics are beautiful!

Wendy (Healthy Girl) said...

Thanks Jennifer, but most of all, thanks Chef Aj!!!!

Wendy said...

Thanks Jennifer, and most of all, thanks Chef Aj!!!!

Anonymous said...

I had a go at making this today and I have to report that it didn't turn out well at all. I think it was because of the tamari glazed mushies. There was already an overwhelming amount of salt flavour just with the miso paste and nutritional flakes (miso was low sodium - does it matter if it's red or white?). Anyway, next time I make this I think i will just fry the mushies in a bit of oil or vegan marg to let the natural flavour shine through. Other than that, I'm sure this recipe will work, I just have to find the right balance of flavours. Thanks for the recipe nevertheless!

Wendy said...

Did you use low sodium tamari? My friends and I have made this lasagna and other things using the musrooms with tamari time and again and loved it each time. I'm sorry it didn't work out for you!

Ves said...

Oh no I didn't use low sodium tamari! But you know what? The lasagna tasted great the next day. I'm craving a piece right now. I will have another go at it this weekend. Best wishes! :-)

Oh, sorry can I ask, does it matter which miso you use, red or white?


Wendy (Healthy Girl) said...

Vesna-I believe this recipe would work with either type of miso, but the taste might be a little different. it should be delicious either way!

Anonymous said...

I ca't eat nutritional yeast. Is it necessary, and, if so, can I substitute something else in it's place?

Wendy said...

If you absolutely cannot eat Nutritional yeast, than just leave it out of the recipe. You can add some other spices or spice blend to add some of the flavor that will be lost. But this recipe is so flavorful, I wonder if you will even need to do that.

Anonymous said...

What marinara sauce did you use. I'm going to make this!!!

Julie Greenman said...

Have you tried using fresh chopped kale instead of frozen?

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