This is one of those dishes that really stands out. A dish that just makes perfect sense and falls into place perfectly on the plate and palate. All those yummy layers, one on top of another.
Meat eaters beware! This is a ‘converter’, one fork-full and you’ll join the lighter side. A dish that dis spells the ludicrous myths that vegetarians are merely ‘rabbit food’ munchers.
We have found vegan raw food presents a simple equation:
Raw Vegan Food = Shiny and Zinging Life of the Highest Order + Awesome, Creative New Flavours and Combinations
Granted its not the simplest of equations, but its a fine one non-the-less! This dish is full, full, full of delicious flavour, nutrition and vegetarian protein power (see top 5 veggie sources of protein here).
Jane was typing whilst I made this and here is what I said about it, hot off the press:
“So good for you and tasty, I can see this stuff really catching on! I see this as the future of food. Its a simple as that. Pasta without the carbs, supercharged full of colour and nutrition, all the flavours of Italy. Fascinating combination of flavours only ever seen in vegan cooking, using all whole foods, nothing jarred – this is what we are going for in the BHK.”
Reading this back again, I completely agree with what my former self uttered. This is the future of cooking (and non-cooking). We all want the best for ourselves and raw vegan food gives us just that. This is a trend that is actually positive for mind and body. Can you imagine how much the National Health Service would save if we all decided to eat vegan raw food, or incorporate more of it into our diets. We’d all live to 150 and hardly ever darken the door of a hospital or doctor. We believe that nutrition and the food we eat is that important. Call it preventative medicine if you will, but taking care of yourself and eating amazing food doesn’t sound like too bad a deal. No compromise on taste either, just look at this wonder plate!
Semi-rant over for now, back to the recipe. Its not totally raw this one, but could be very easily. Because Raw Earth Month has now officially ended (yes we are using the odd light at night and the occasional square of chocolate is disappearing from the cupboard) cooked beans have re-entered our diets. How I missed them. I love a bean. Without even thinking, I added red kidney beans to the ‘meat’ layer of our lasagne. They are perfect colour wise and they add a great texture. I also love them with walnuts, no idea why?
We are lucky to have a raft of inspirational friends and the original idea for this lasagne comes from the sparkling Sava over at Travel Butterfly. Sava is a constant source of inspiration on many levels for us at the Beach House and some of her vegan/ raw recipes really hit the wonder mark.
This lasagne, and lasagne in general, has a few components to sort, it takes a little time. Its well worth it though and would definitely be classed as a special occasion dish. This dish has the whiff of wow factor about it, one that looks almost as good as it tastes (after all, food that looks better than it tastes is such a let down). I am always interested to find that most people who don’t cook much still know how to make a decent lasagne. Its quite a tricky and time consuming thing to get together, especially the art of a non-lumpy bechamel. I generally think people are alot better at cooking than they claim to be!
Good tomatoes here are essential. We had some in our veg box this week and they blew us away, when I tried the sauce, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t added a sweetener to it. That’s it reaction you need! Gorgeous tomatoes are hard to find. Some tomatoes just need a little love, leave them in a bowl, ripen them just like a fruit and sometimes they come good, at the very least, they will get better. A chilled tomato is just no good. There is a soup we made a little like this, found here.
If you are completely raw, we’d probably substitute the beans with more seeds and nuts. Maybe a little dried apricot to bind things together. I am sure you have your own ideas, as being a raw vegan really pushes your creativity to the limits. We know how it is.
We use amino acids of tamari here because most soya sauce is just no good. Soya is a funny thing and unless processed properly, can be of detriment to the body. Tamari and something like Braggs Liquid Amino Acids are perfect replacements and tamari especially, even tastes finer.
We top this all off with some Nutritional Yeast Flakes. I know we all don’t have them in the cupboard, but they are brilliant little flakes to add an almost cheesiness to dishes. They have a unique savoury taste that must be tried to appreciate and are a vegan lifesaver. For me, they are little like a vegan parmesan. That intense!
A few other raw recipes that may tickle your tastebuds:
Now, lets non-cook!
Tomato and Basil Sauce
3 cups plum cherry toms, 1 cup soaked sundried toms (finely chopped) with ¼ cup of oil from the jar), 1 cup fresh basil leaves, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 clove crushed garlic (crushed)
Bean and Walnut Layer
250g red kidney beans (cooked) or 1 tin-ish, 1 cup of walnuts, ½ cup of pumpkin seeds (add bite), 2 x teaspoon Braggs Liquid Aminos (or tamari), Pinch of salt and pepper
1 gold courgette, 1 green courgette (or two green is fine)
Cut in half width-ways and finely sliced into layers
Avocado and Lemon Ricotta
1 ripe avocado (must be ripe), 250g firm tofu (drained well, save a few thin slices for the topping), 2 tbls olive oil, ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes, 1 small clove garlic (crushed), ½ lemon juice and zest, pinch of salt
Thinly sliced tofu, olives (finely chopped), sprinkled with Nutritional Yeast Flakes
This raw game is an easy one. Just whack it in the food processor and voila! Gorgeous Lasagne.
Tomato and Basil Sauce – Pop all in a FP and whizz until smooth. Set aside and clean blender.
Bean Walnut Layer – Pop all in a FP and blitz until smooth but with lots of chunks (similar to mince I guess). Set aside and clean blender.
Avocado and Lemon Ricotta – Pop all in a FP, blend until smooth. Set aside.
Pop all in the fridge for an hour to chill and thicken up a little before the layering.
Make sure that you slice you courgette/ zucchini carefully. You want them to be almost as thin as pasta sheets. A mandolin is perfect for this, but a big beware here! They love to slice fingers also.
Now to layer the beast.
On your chosen serving plate (a square one would be perfect), lay out your first layer of courgette. Depending on your chopping skills, you may need to put two layers of courgette (if wafer thin style). Carefully spread on your bean and walnut layer and a thin layer of the tomato and basil sauce.
Next, add another layer of courgette, slightly smaller in diameter than the first, pressing down gently to make the layer stick. This is mainly a presentation thing, you can see the layers better when they are not overhanging each other. Once the layer is neatly placed, spread on your vegan ricotta.
The final layer, once more press down gently and arrange a nicely overlapping mosaic of your wonderfully sliced courgette, top with a layer of tofu (which can’t help but look a little like mozzarella), a good layer of tomato and basil sauce, sprinkle on your chopped olives and a good sprinkle of yeast flakes. Top with some basil that you will no doubt have hanging around your glorious kitchen.
That’s it! As simple or as difficult as you make it! We think its medium in the ‘fiddle scale’.
Immediately. The salt will gradually release liquids in the lasagne, which are very tasty, but don’t look the best. This lasagne can be sliced as usual and the layers will stay intact and look amazing.
We Love It!
A dish in the locker that will impress friends and family for many years and make us look very clever indeed when actually its leisurely walk in the park.
The flavours mingle and merge in some form of Italian perfection and you will be amazed at the reaction from meat-eaters. Try it! They love it too!
Courgette (zucchini to some) is a summer squash, they are said to have originated in Mexico and come in all shapes and sizes. Courgettes are very low in calories and have no cholesterol or fat, the peel is full of dietary fibre and it is also a good source of vitamin A and has high levels of heart friendly potassium.