Tag Archives: wheat-free

Vegan and Gluten-Free Lasagna

Decadent melt-in-your-mouth lasagna, pretending it was eaten with green accompaniments. Lies!

Catchy name, hey? Fret not, this lasagna is so saucy cheesy good that it has little use for clever titles and is also omni-approved. It’s only downside is that it is a wee bit tedious. But then, isn’t that always the case with lasagna?  While delicious, it’s not really a weeknight food.

So, obviously I made this on the weekend and it wasn’t really that much work. I just prefer to make lasagna when company is coming over because it feeds a crowd and also pleases said crowd. I’m sorry, folks, it’s been a long day and I have a cold and am not feeling especially clever and this recipe is going to be a doozy to write!

I hope I’m not turning you off making this now! Don’t listen to me! I’m cranky. What I was trying to say was that it’s not a big deal. People are coming over, so you’re cleaning your house, right? Trying to make it look like your bathroom always sparkles! Well, while you’re doing that, have your sauces simmering. Once they’re done, you really just have to assemble your lasagna and bake it. Do your dishes, and it looks like a lasagna just magically appeared out of your squeaky clean oven. I love that! There’s something so 50s housewifish about pulling a casserole or something out of a pristine kitchen.

Another good thing about lasagna, and this recipe in particular, is that not only allows your guests to feast, but also feeds you for a week, because this recipe makes one big lasagna, and then also a secret second mini one. I had some of my secret one for lunch today, and it really does get better with age. So freaking good. Sadly, it’s gone now, but yours doesn’t have to be! Invite people over so you have an excuse to indulge, or just treat yourself because you deserve it! Yes, you.

The main lasagna, all dressed up and ready to go! Into the oven.

This recipe is made without wheat or dairy, but honestly, you can’t tell. The cheese sauce recipe is pretty much Karina‘s, although I didn’t consult it this time because I have made it so often that I just wing it now.

A note on the vegetable layer: this recipe made enough for the larger lasagna, but not the secret mini one, which is the one I photographed. Honestly, it was really good without the veggies, because it was more comfort food-y. I like to throw the veggies in for a little extra nutritional value, but they are optional.

As for the noodles, I used rice lasagna noodles, which aren’t specifically oven ready, but you can treat them like they are! No boiling necessary, for real! They turn out beautifully every time.

The following sauce recipes are really handy, as they are ones I make all the time as my go-to tomato and cheese sauces, respectively.

Tomato Sauce Ingredients:

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 white onions, diced

1 tsp. dried basil (or fresh basil, if you have– use more!)

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup red wine

2 tbsp. capers, chopped (optional)

2 24-0z bottles Italian strained tomato sauce aka passata di pomodoro (mine had basil leaf in it)

2 small or 1 large can Hunt’s plain tomato sauce

salt and pepper to taste

Tomato Sauce Directions:

Heat oil in a soup pot on medium to medium-low heat. Add onion and sprinkle with a little salt. Sauté for 15-20 minutes until soft, stirring as needed and adjusting the heat so the onions don’t burn at all.

Add basil, rubbing it between your hands. I think this releases the flavour, but I might be making that up. I kind of just don’t like the texture of dried herbs, so I like to soften them up.

Add garlic and let cook 1 minute until fragrant.

Turn heat to max, and add wine. Stir until wine has reduced and the alcohol has evaporated. Turn heat back down to medium and add capers and all of the tomato sauces.

Cover, reduce heat a little and simmer for half an hour.

Taste, and add salt and pepper if needed.

Cheese Sauce Ingredients:

4 tbsp olive oil

4 heaping tablespoons rice flour

2 cups plain non-dairy milk

3 cups water

1 tsp. onion powder

1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1 tbsp tahini

1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp. cayenne (optional- this’ll give it a kick, which you may not want for mac ‘n’ cheese, but it’s good in lasagna)

1/2 cup Daiya (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Cheese Sauce Directions:

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat.

Whisk in flour and let cook for around 2 minutes.

Slowly whisk in milk and water, letting the sauce thicken in between additions.

Once sauce is almost as thick as you’d want it to be, whisk in all other ingredients.

Let the sauce cook until desired thickness. Taste for salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I added a little more of all these things!

Vegetable Mixture Ingredients (Optional and Flexible):

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 white onion

crown of broccoli

3 cloves garlic

1/2 bunch kale

2 handfuls fresh spinach

small box of mushrooms

Vegetable Mixture Directions:

Dice all ingredients into small pieces. The idea here is to sort of mimic your standard spinach layer, not create a vegetable lasagna.

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan or, even better, a wok, on medium-high heat.

Sauté vegetables until soft, around 20 minutes or so.

Lasagna Ingredients:

The above 3 components

2 boxes of rice lasagna noodles (or 1 if you don’t want an extra mini one)

1 small tub of vegan cream cheese (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.

Meanwhile, assemble your lasagnas! My large pan is 9″ x 13″ and my small one is 8″ x 8″, by the way.

Spread a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan, followed by noodles, then tomato sauce, then cheese sauce, then noodles, then all of the vegetables and continue on like that until you run  out of space, leaving about an inch of room on top. I like to finish with cheese sauce. Don’t be stingy with sauce! The noodles need it to cook properly and they soak up a fair amount. I also like a saucy lasagna. Also, don’t overlap the noodles. You’ll need to break them to fit, possibly, as I did. Save little weird noodle pieces for your secret lasagna! It’s pretty much made of them!

Distribute little dollops of cream cheese evenly on top, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake another 15 minutes, or until noodles are easily pierced with a fork.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Note: I don’t bake 2 lasagnas at once, because I tried it once and the noodles turned out really gross. You can assemble the 2 lasagnas at the same time, but bake them one at a time. The little one likes to bake while everyone’s eating because then everyone is distracted and won’t realize that you’re holding out on them!

Whew! I need some lasagna after all that. How about you?

Cheesy, saucy goodness, just like a real lasagna!

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Vegan French Onion Soup

Je m'appelle "Soupe." Enchantée.

Let’s talk about onions. How do you feel about them? Perhaps because of their pungency, they seem to incite strong feelings one way or another. In my case, our Facebook relationship status would be “It’s Complicated.” Remember when I told you how gross mayonnaise is? Well, I used to feel the same  way about onions. Hated them. Would not go near them. Would not eat anything they had even touched.

I have been daydreaming about French Onion Soup for like four days and have been writing this post in my head for three. I am obsessed. How did I get to this place, you ask? Well, I learned that onions can be cooked into oblivion. When slow-cooked, they dissolve and impart a delectably rich flavour to every dish they meet. Once I wrapped my head around this concept, I gradually started to actually like the little tear-jerkers.

Oh, and I grew up and quit being such a whiner.

This recipe isn’t particularly innovative: a quickle Google search will give you oodles of French Onion Soup recipes with similar methods and ingredients. I have actually never eaten the stuff until today, as I understand it is usually made with beef broth and I’ve been a pescatarian for nearly twenty years. Plus, the whole anti-onion thing made this soup my literal nightmare in a bowl.

Turns out the secret to making this soup is caramelizing the onions for about an hour. Uncovered! Think about what this makes your house smell like! Think about what slicing five big onions means for your eyes! It’s worth it though. If you’re a reformed onion-loather or a French Onion Soup-deprived vegan or vegetarian, this one’s for you.

I don’t know if this tastes anything like the classic beef-based version, but hot damn is it ever tasty! Super rich and flavourful, the Daiya and bread really take it to another place– onion heaven.

Oh, and apparently an onion a day keeps the doctor away.


La soupe, nue et sans pain et fromage.

I used Michael Smith’s recipe (mostly because his name is a combination of my parent’s names) as a base and easily veganized it.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)

splash water

5 white onions, halved and thinly sliced

1/2 cup brandy ( I imagine sherry or white wine would be nice too)

6 cups water (or vegetable stock– omit the bouillon cubes)

1 onion bouillon cube

1 mushroom bouillon cube

1 tsp dried thyme

2 tbsp Bragg’s or wheat-free tamari

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Daiya mozzarella

Wheat-free bread of choice (I used Quinoa Barley bread– NOT gluten-free!)

Directions:

Throw onions, vegan butter, splash of water, a pinch of salt, and oil into a large soup pot and turn heat to medium-high or high. Cover and let cook for around ten minutes, until the onions have softened and the water has evaporated.

Uncover and turn heat to low. Let the onions caramelize for around an hour, stirring every five minutes or so. As I write this, the onions have been doing their thing for 40 minutes. They are soft but not brown. They’d better get to browning!

Update: Onions have shrunk in size considerably. And I broke one of my lightbulbs while setting up the lightbox.

Not a golden colour at one hour. Turning up the heat to medium and watching carefully!

Cat has entered the lightbox. Does not bode well for the food that will soon be in there.

I don’t know why I am live blogging this. Sorry.

Screw it. Onions aren’t dark brown.

Add the brandy, bouillon cubes, water, Bragg’s and thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste, and simmer uncovered for fifteen minutes.

Turn on broiler and cut bread to fit your bowl. Toast it.

Ladle soup into oven-safe bowls and top with toast. Sprinkle with as much Daiya as your heart desires.

Broil until Daiya is melted.

Eat.

Melty, bread-y, oniony, kind of boozy. French? Je n'ai aucune idée.

Serves 4. While very tasty, I would not recommend this as a weekday soup, as it takes awhile to caramelize the onions. Make it on the weekend unless you like eating at 9:30 pm. 

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Vegan Pasta Primavera with Creamy Tomato Sauce

Pasta Primavera: Because the Italian word for "summer" just didn't sound as good.

Summer finally made an appearance yesterday in Vancouver and my neighbourhood came alive in the way that only Commercial Drive can. While my next-door neighbours were busy hula hooping and juggling to throbbing dance music, I basked in the sun and gorged on the first batch of local strawberries I’ve bought this year. The rest of the afternoon was spent lazily wandering to the grocery store, iced soy latte in hand, with the intention of stocking up on some more strawberries. I ended up buying a boatload of fresh basil, strawberries, rhubarb, and asparagus. Feeling this was a grocery bag worthy of a warm summer day, I returned home with pasta on the brain. Thanks, fresh basil, you get me every time.

I’m not sure why, but I wanted Pasta Primavera. Is this something that turns up on restaurant menus a lot still? Maybe it was a food fad in the 90s, maybe not. The early 90s are but a distant hazy memory now. I ordered it a lot as a vegetarian kid, as often the only meat-free thing on restaurant menus was some sort of pasta dish. In my mind, the 1994 version of Pasta Primavera consists of some sauteed veggies and a creamy rosé sauce. Something vaguely Italian that turned up on menus in non-Italian restaurants. Sort of like the ubiquitous Fettucini Alfredo, my all-time childhood fave.

So, here it is! My memory of Pasta Primavera, veganized and without gluten: Brown rice pasta tossed with garlic and basil-infused spring vegetables and drizzled with a creamy tomato sauce. It was pretty darn yummy.

Now that I think about it, one could make this more 90s-ish by serving it with tricoloured rotini noodles or something. While listening to Ace of Base.

More sauce, please. Thanks.

This is a three pot meal, so it takes a little coordination. Make the vegetables and sauce at the same time, but don’t forget to whisk! Serve it with your favourite pasta, enough for 4 people. I love Tinkyada brown rice pasta.

Tomato Cream Sauce Ingredients:

2 tbsp. olive oil

3 tbsp. brown rice flour (another flour would be fine, but I like rice flour for its neutral flavour)

2 1/2 cups unsweetened rice milk, or other unsweetened non-dairy milk

3 tbsp. nutritional yeast

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. salt

pepper

splash white wine (optional, but adds depth)

3/4 cup plain Hunt’s tomato sauce

1/4 cup Daiya vegan mozzarella (optional, but adds more creamy yumminess)

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Add rice flour and whisk. Let cook a minute or so to infuse your roux with a nice toasty flavour.

Whisk in rice milk a little at a time, letting the sauce thicken between additions. Once the sauce has thickened, add nutritional yeast, garlic and onion powder, dried basil, salt, and a generous dose of freshly ground black pepper. Cook for a few more minutes.

Add wine, Hunt’s and Daiya, whisking well to melt the Daiya.

Taste for salt and pepper. Set aside, keeping warm while you boil your noodles.

Vegetable Ingredients:

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 small white onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into bite-size pieces

10 asparagus spears (about half a bunch), cut in 2″ pieces

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a frying pan that has a lid (you’ll need it later), heat olive oil on medium-low heat. Add onions and a little salt and cook until softened, around 10 minutes or so.

Add garlic and mushrooms and a little more salt. Turn the heat up to medium and fry until the mushrooms release some liquid.

Add bell pepper and asparagus and cover. Cook until the vegetables are softened.

Remove lid and cook off excess liquid. Stir in chopped basil. Add freshly ground pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Turn off heat and set aside while you boil your noodles.

To serve: This recipe makes enough for 4 people, so make enough pasta accordingly. For presentation purposes, I plated the pasta, then drizzled some sauce, then added a couple scoops of sauteed vegetables, topped with another drizzle of sauce and garnished with a fresh basil chiffonade.

Bon appetit!

Go ahead, unleash your inner vegan pasta monster!

Serves 4 average appetites. Served 3 in my house, as I was trying to fill up before going to work where I serve real Italian food and am tortured by it for 6 hour stints.

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Filed under Condiments and Sauces, Dinner, Pasta

Homemade Coconut Cranberry Granola

Homemade coconut cranberry granola with Cinnamon Heart David's Tea for breakfast? Yes please!

I am a sweet breakfast person. Toast with jam and sun butter, fruit smoothies, fruit with soy yogurt and granola, millet rice cereal with dried cranberries and coconut, barley flake porridge with blueberries and buckwheat pancakes with maple syrup are among my faves. A creature of habit, I eat the same breakfast everyday until I cannot stand it any longer and move on to the next thing. Except for pancakes. Those I usually only have on my “Solo Pancakes Saturdays.” Yes, that’s right. Pancakes for one.

This week, my sweet breakfast of choice has been homemade granola with soy milk. Every day. Sometimes, for fun, I add a fresh mango on the side. I came back from Sayulita, a surf town in Mexico, a couple weeks ago totally inspired food wise. But more on that later. My granola inspiration came from the absolutely fantastic hotel that we stayed in, La Casona. Every morning, a breakfast of fresh tropical fruit, homemade granola, freshly baked chocolate banana muffins (!), yogurt, coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice was laid out for us. I was in heaven. I skipped the yogurt but actually was able to buy soy milk at the mini super across the street. Yes, soy milk in Mexico. They had Silk brand in original, unsweetened and vanilla varieties!  Ah, it’s the small things in life, really. So when I used all the soy milk, I moved on to the almond milk that a previous hotel guest had left in the communal fridge. Jack wasn’t able to enjoy the yummy granola as it had almonds and pecans in it. So, as soon as we got home I whipped up a batch based on the La Casona recipe, using sunflower and pumpkin seeds instead to add a nutty flavour. Was it good? Well, we have managed to burn through the whole 11 cups in a week or so. So here I am making another batch.

To those of you unable to eat gluten: make sure your oats are “Certified Gluten-Free.”  Click here for more info on oats and celiac disease.

This is one of those recipes that can be tweaked to suit your tastes. I love coconut, cranberries and cinnamon so this recipe is right up my alley. If you prefer other dried fruits and are able to eat nuts, add them by all means! Just try the recipe… you’re guaranteed to feel the smug satisfaction that comes with making things from scratch that usually come in a package!

What’s your favourite breakfast?

Coconut Cranberry Granola with sumptuous amounts of cinnamon

Dry Ingredients:

6 cups oat flakes (not instant)

1 cup mixed sunflower and pumpkin seeds (or nuts of your choice)

1 cup unsweetened fancy shred coconut (so fancy!)

1/2 cup sesame seeds

1 heaping tbsp. cinnamon

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup dried apples, chopped

Wet Ingredients:

1/2 cup agave (or honey)

1/4 cup organic cane sugar (or brown sugar)

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup light-tasting oil (coconut, sunflower, etc.)

1 tbsp. vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or oil it.

Whisk wet ingredients together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for a few minutes.

In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients together, except the dried fruit.

Pour wet ingredients into granola mixture and mix well.

Spread granola mixture onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Cool granola on baking sheet for 15 minutes.

Stir in dried fruit and store in an airtight container.

Makes 11 cups. Enjoy on its own as a snack, with milk or non-dairy milk, or with fruit and yogurt or soy yogurt.

Side note: I am kind of obsessed with parchment paper right now. I was too cheap to buy it for awhile (not that it’s expensive or anything) but am a total fan now. Lining a baking sheet with it means you don’t have to grease it, and then don’t have to wash it either! Plus, depending on what you’re baking, you can reuse the paper. It’s also especially good when baking with gluten-free flours. Win, win, win!

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Filed under Breakfast