Thursday, September 18, 2014

Raw Lasagna with Killer Tomato Sauce and Quick Cashew Cheese

For months I've been wanting to make a raw lasagna.  With all of those layers of raw goodness, I thought that it would take a good half a day to make and would best be saved for a weekend when I could dedicate hours to slicing the zucchini, blending the tomato sauce, and soaking my cashews.  Boy, was I wrong!  After playing around in the kitchen for about 45 minutes, I had raw lasagna!  A little bit of Lindsay Sterling (she is awesome, if you haven't heard her music then check her out!!), some dancing, chopping, slicing, and blending then viola!! Raw lasagna and a really friendly new neighbor who stopped by to say hello and thought I was 17, bless him!!
Raw lasagna is awesome. Don't get me wrong, I love the authentic wheat based ooey gooey lasagna (check out my vegan tofu lasagna recipe here) but I do not miss the wheat belly, the indigestion and food coma of the more traditional fare.  Raw lasagna can be quick, easy, fun and this recipe is probably one of the most delicious foods I have EVER eaten, bonus points for being even more delicious as leftovers the next day.
Here we go, lets make a lasagna...

Here's what you're going to need:
2 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into long strips using a mandolin
4 cups greens such as spinach, kale, collard greens, arugula or a mix
1 cup fresh parsley
1 cup fresh cilantro
Killer Tomato Sauce:
1 1/3 cups sun-dried tomatoes, soaked 15-20 minutes (I use the Trader Joe's variety from the bag)
1 1/3 cup chopped, seeded tomato (Roma work really well)
1/3 cup soaking liquid from sun-dried tomatoes
1/3 tsp Himalayan salt or sea salt
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil (if I have fresh basil on hand,  I'll omit the oregano and just use 4 large basil leaves)
1/4 tsp Herbs de Provence
1 tsp honey, agave, or stevia
Black pepper to taste
Quick Cashew Cheese:
1 cup raw cashews, soaked 4-5 hours and rinsed well
2-4 Tbsp. cold filtered water
1/2 tsp. Himalayan salt or sea salt
1 Tbsp. chopped onion (white or red)
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (about two medium lemons)
1 heaping Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 small garlic clove
a dash of pepper
Parmesan Sprinkle:
1/4 cup raw cashew, ground in spice grinder to a crumble
Here's the method:
1. Zucchini Lasagna Noodles are easy to make. Set your mandolin to the thickest setting so that the noodles aren't too thin. Once you have sliced you noodles, place them in the dehydrator for about an hour to soften (ok, it takes a little bit longer than 45 minutes to make..).  In the meantime, make your filling.
2. To make the Killer Tomato Sauce, blend all ingredients in a blender until it's fairly smooth but some larger pieces remain. I like my sauce to have some heft and veer on the chunkier side.  If you want a smoother sauce, feel free to blend away to your desired consistency.  Pour the sauce into a fine mesh strainer to remove the extra liquid.

3. To make the Quick Cashew Cheese, add all ingredients except the water to a food processor fitted with the "S-type" blade.  With the food processor running, slowly add the water a little at a time until the cheese is creamy.  Add as little water as possible, turning off the food processor and scraping down the sides a few times, so that the lasagna doesn't get soggy from excess water.
4. For the veggie filling, add the greens, cilantro and parsley to your food processor then pulse until all your greens are chopped up into little sprinkles of sunshine and chlorophyll.  This will ensure that whole leaves of greens don't fall out and your lasagna holds its layers like a pro.
5. To assemble, use either a pie pan or a square baking dish.  Depending on what type of dish you use, it might be necessary to trim the zucchini noodles slightly to fit your dish.  I trimmed a little off of my outer noodles to fit my round pie pan.  This will keep your layers well defined.  For the first layer, cover the bottom of your dish with noodles.  Then add cheese, sauce, greens and repeat 2x ending with a layer of zucchini noodles on top.  Top with cashew parmesan cheese and you're ready to eat!

To serve: Cut lasagna into symmetrical squares and serve either as a 3 layer lasagna OR stack two squares on top of each other for epic, and I do mean epic, deep dish lasagna!

This is a favorite recipe of mine and it brings me great joy to share it with all of you! Every time I make this dish, it inspires me to laugh, dance around the kitchen and enjoy the fragrance of a kitchen full of life!  The beauty of raw foods is the astonishing flavor and vitality that can be experienced when using the freshest ingredients Mother Nature has to offer.  Enjoying food in its unprocessed, whole foods state is a joyful experience and I hope that you have as much enjoyment in your kitchen when you make this dish!  Happy eating!

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