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
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)
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 . . .