Taco Tuesday: Buffalo Chickpea Tacos with Ranch Dressing

Taco Tuesday: Buffalo Chickpea Tacos with Ranch Dressing

It’s Tuesday, friends, so you know what that means: #TacoTuesday!

Guys, I am so excited to share this taco recipe with you because it combines two of my favorite things: tacos and a recipe from my pals at Well Vegan. If you’re new to my blog, I am a huge fan of my Frugal Vegan cookbook.  Kate and Katie share tactical ways to live a healthy vegan lifestyle without breaking the bank with 99 affordable and delicious plant-based recipes. Also within the book, they teach you how to stay away from pricey perishables and special ingredients, while still enjoying nutritious, exciting food at every single meal. A win-win. And even if you’re not vegan, you’ll still benefit from the information in this book!

Last week, the Well Vegan girls shared a Buffalo Crispy Tender Tacos with Vegan Ranch recipe that I just knew I had recreate for this week’s taco Tuesday. And this vegan ranch, you guys…oh my god. I truly don’t know the last time I had ranch dressing, but this dressing…tastes better than I have ever remembered store-bought ranch dressing to taste. Like, I wanted to drink this dressing it was so good. I know, I know the thought of drinking ranch dressing is gross, but it was seriously that good. #noshame

For my non-vegan friends, I also wanted to give you a healthy ranch recipe from my friend Steph of The Steph Gordon Blog! Steph and I went to college together and we share a mutual love for a great sweat sesh in the gym and living a healthy lifestyle. Steph is a momma to two sweet littles and she, her husband and girls follow a paleo lifestyle. On her blog, Steph shares drool-worthy recipes and awesome tips for following a paleo lifestyle. Pop on over to her blog to give her content a browse, and make sure you check out this ranch dressing recipe!

Now for our tacos!

Ingredients:

For the buffalo sauce

  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 2 tsp vegan butter or olive oil
  • 1 tsp agave or maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

For the tacos

For the vegan ranch dressing

  • 1/4 cup vegan mayo
  • 1 TBS non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Almond milk…I’m currently experimenting with making my own almond milk, so stay tuned for that recipe!)
  • 1/2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar (I used Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar)
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill (the original recipe calls for 1/4 tsp, but I love dill so I added more!)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • Salt and peper to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • Pour your chickpeas from the can into small strainer and rinse under cold running water.
  • After your chickpeas are rinsed, grab two bowls — we’re going to remove the skin or shell from the chickpeas. This task will take about 5 – 10 minutes depending on how many helpers you have in the kitchen. If you have kiddos, this is an easy way for them to help contribute to the meal! 🙂 Simply pinch the end of a chickpea and it will easily slide out of it’s skin. Place the skin in one bowl and the “naked” chickpea in the other. Repeat until all chickpeas are done. The lack of skin or shell helps the chickpeas to crisp up better in the oven.

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  • Once your chickpeas are all set, drizzle them with 1 tsp of olive oil, toss to coat and then pour them onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Pop into the oven for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  • Next up, make your buffalo sauce. I just threw all of the ingredients into my Magic Bullet, but if you have more time than I did, the Well Vegan girls suggest making this on the stovetop.
  • While your chickpeas are still baking, prepare your ranch dressing. Again, I just tossed everything into my Magic Bullet to combine – super easy (or lazy, whatever!).
  • After your 40 minutes are up, check your chickpeas for preferred crispness. At this point, mine were pretty crispy, so I mixed them with my buffalo sauce and popped them back in the oven for about 10 more minutes so they could cook with the sauce for a little bit.
  • Once your chickpeas are cooked to your liking, you’re ready to assemble your tacos!
  • Place a tortilla on a plate and add your romaine, avocado, chickpeas and a few dollops of your ranch dressing.  Other toppings for consideration: pico de gallo (I meant to include this when I made my tacos, but I honestly forgot!), cilantro, olives, etc.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

 

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What are your favorite way to make tacos? I’d love for you to share in the comments! <3

Be Well,

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Taco Tuesday: Roasted Lentils Edition

Taco Tuesday: Roasted Lentils Edition

Happy Tuesday, loves!

If you’ve followed me for some time now (@bewellwithmb), you know that #tacotuesday is a weekly staple in our household. And, especially on nights like tonight when I’m not getting home until after 9PM, I really appreciate how easy tacos are to throw together for a quick and healthy dinner (as if there isn’t already enough to love about taco tuesday!).

Tonight, I just whipped together some homemade guacamole (avocado, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, s+p to taste) onto a Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain Tortilla, with organic romaine, shredded carrots and pico de gallo from Trader Joe’s.

For my protein source, I’m really excited to give these Roasted Lentils from SimpleSuppleFoods a try! I stumbled upon them in Whole Foods today while searching for a quick source of protein that I could throw into these tacos.  1/4 cup of these guys contains 9g of protein and 5g of fiber (20% of our daily recommended intake). And, I love that they are made locally here in Michigan! I took a little taste test before assembling my tacos and oh my goodness: I LOVE all of the flavor that these little guys pack and talk about yummy crunch! These will definitely be a repeat purchase!

Finally, I topped my tacos with another Trader Joe’s favorite, their salsa.

Super easy and it took me 10 minutes total!

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Now, I’m going to go enjoy my tacos and hang out with my boys. <3

I hope you have a wonderful rest of your evening!

Be Well,

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Plant Powered Protein Day 10: Spinach // Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes Recipe with Spinach, Corn and Beans

Plant Powered Protein Day 10: Spinach // Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes Recipe with Spinach, Corn and Beans

It’s day 10 of our #PlantPoweredProtein series and that means we’ve come to the end! I hope you’ve found this series to be as interesting as I have! We’re concluding today with an oldie but goodie: Spinach.

Growing up, I hated spinach. Ha-ted. My grandma used to make homemade ravioli and I would practically throw a fit if I saw that she used spinach in the ricotta. Today, I love it. In fact, I love it so much that I think back to the times when I despised it and wonder how that even happened! Spinach is obviously included in this series because with just 1 cup of spinach, you’ll benefit from over 6 grams of protein.

Spinach is also known to improve the health of our skin and hair, aid in digestion, maintain bone health as well as…

  • Improving our eye sight: As a rich source of beta-carotene, spinach can prevent vitamin A deficiencies, dry eyes and itchy eyes.
  • Strengthens our muscles: C0-Q10 is an antioxidant that plays an important role in strengthening muscles, especially heart muscles. C0-Q10 can be used to prevent and treat many cardiovascular diseases and spinach just happens to be an awesome source of C0-Q10.
  • Vitamin K: Spinach is a good source of Vitamin K, which helps us retain calcium. With other minerals like manganese, copper, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus also helping to build strong bones / preventing the development of osteoporosis, we also benefit from healthy teeth and nails.
  • Metabolism boost: The protein found in spinach is easily broken down by enzymes into amino acids that are essential to the health of humans, which help our muscles grow, our bodies heal wounds and even give our metabolism a boost.

 

Spinach is one of those foods that, like many others in this series, you can use in so many different ways. Today, we’re making a twice baked sweet potato with spinach, corn and black bean filling. I had one of my best friends over for lunch today and we had these – they were delicious! I served mine alongside some carrot and broccoli quinoa cakes and a cashew cream parfait with blackberries, raspberries and granola. Yum!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large organic sweet potato
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of salsa
  • 1 can organic black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can organic corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup (packed) organic baby spinach

Instructions:

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  • Wash and scrub your sweet potato under cold running water.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place sweet potato onto sheet. Using a fork, poke several holes over the surface of the potato.
  • Place baking sheet with potato in oven and bake until tender, about 1 hour.
  • While potato is baking, in a large skillet, add olive oil, black beans, corn and salsa over medium heat. Cook until beans and corn are soft, about 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add spinach and continue to cook until spinach reduces in size and softens, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, cover and set aside.
  • Remove potato from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.
  • Once cooled, cut potato in half and scoop out the flesh using a large spoon, leaving enough on the base so the skin holds its shape.
  • Add flesh to skillet with beans, corn and spinach, stirring to combine all ingredients.
  • Scoop mixture back into potato halves, put back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
  • Top with salsa or any other desired toppings (cilantro, guacamole, etc.) and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Be Well,

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Plant Powered Protein Day 2: Lentils // Lentil Burger + Sweet Potato Chips Recipe

Plant Powered Protein Day 2: Lentils // Lentil Burger + Sweet Potato Chips Recipe

Day two of our #PlantPoweredProtein series brings us to lentils. While lentils may sound pretty boring to talk about, they’re one of my favorite members of the legume family. Not only are they an excellent source of lean protein (around 18g of protein per 1 cup and less than 1g of fat), but they are such a versatile food to cook with. I’ve had them in soups, salads, chili, tacos…and today, we have them in burgers (see recipe below). But before we get to that, here’s a little more about why you should love lentils, too.

  • Fiber: Eating proper amounts of fiber is incredibly important for our bodies and yet most of us don’t get nearly as much as we should. Lentils pack about 16g of fiber per 1 cup, putting you well on your way to the recommended daily intake of 25-30g of fiber per day. The fiber content of lentils also help to keep us fuller longer, which is great for weight management, and because lentils are super rich in dietary fiber, they make our gut happy. Lentils contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, which help with things like keeping you regular, aiding in preventing digestive disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Diverticulitis (inflammation of the small pouches aka diverticula of our digestive tract), reducing the risk of heart disease, regulating blood sugar…just to name a few.
  • Healthy heart: Because lentils contain soluble fiber, they’re great at lowering cholesterol / helping to keep our cholesterol levels in a healthy balance and preventing hypertension. Lentils are also very low in fat and sodium, which help us maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
  • Essential Nutrients: Iron, folate, magnesium and zinc are abundant in lentils and these are just some of the key minerals that our bodies depend on for a healthy immune system.
  • Inexpensive: Adequate sources of protein do not have to break the bank. Lentils are an awesome source of inexpensive protein and can be found in most bulk food sections of grocery stores for cheap! Your body and wallet will thank you. 🙂

 

Okay, lets get to the yummy stuff…these lentil burgers. I found this recipe from Vegan Richa that sounded really yummy and I’m adapting our recipe from that.  We’re making lentil cauliflower burgers with sweet potato chips and let me tell you….this meal is bomb.

Ingredients

For the burger patties:

  • 1/2 cup dried lentils. I used green lentils, but you can use whatever variety you like.
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (or water, but the burgers will be less flavorful)
  • 1 tsp salt, divided in half
  • 1 tsp garlic powder, divided in half
  • 1 tsp cumin powder, divided in half
  • 2 cups of grated cauliflower. Pro tip: buy the packaged cauliflower that’s already grated for you…time saver!
  • 1 small jalapeño, diced (as always, omit if you don’t care for spice)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 TBS almond flour (or whatever flour you prefer)
  • 2 TBS chia and/or hemp seeds (optional) – I decided to toss these in there for a little extra boost of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

 

For the sweet potato chips:

  • 1 organic sweet potato
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt or pink himalayan salt (optional)

 

Directions:

Believe it or not, our chips actually take the longest to make so we’ll start with those. I love this sweet potato chip recipe from Minimalist Baker. She has everything down to a science and these chips always come out perfectly crisp and yummy!

I will warn you that this recipe does take a little time / patience, so these are great to make ahead of time or on the weekend.

  • Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.
  • Thoroughly rinse and dry your sweet potato and slice it as uniformly thin as possible (I used my mandolin and it worked perfectly. If you don’t have one, just use a very sharp knife to get the slices as thin and consistent in size as you can.
  • Toss slices in 1 TBS of olive oil to lightly coat, then sprinkle with salt. Lay out in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for about 2 hours (this is the patience part), flipping the chips once at the halfway point to ensure even cooking.
  • Remove the chips once they’re crisp and golden brown. It’s okay if some of them feel a little tender in the middle — take them out and let them rest for at least 10 minutes to continue to crisp up.
  • Serve immediately if possible. If not, store in a sealed container.

 

Now for the burgers!

  • Bump up your oven to 400 degrees.
  • Soak the lentils in hot water for one hour (at the very least).
  • Get your onion going on the stove in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil and medium – high heat.  Once the onions become soft and translucent, rinse and drain the lentils and then add them to the pot to hang out with the onions for a couple of minutes, reducing the heat to medium and stirring to combine.

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  • Add your spices (1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1/2 cumin powder) to the onions and lentils. Stir to combine, add your vegetable stock, stir again, cover and then cook on medium-low for about 45 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Stir occasionally.

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  • Next, grab your cauliflower and spread it out onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the cauliflower for 15 minutes until some of the pieces get crispy.

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  • Add the cauliflower to the cooked lentils along with the rest of your ingredients (salt, garlic powder, cumin powder, chili powder and diced jalapeño).  Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

 

 

  • Add flour and stir until the mixture comes together, adding more flour if needed.

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  • Shape into burger patties by hand. Bake on parchment-lined baking sheet for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees. I took my patties out at the 20 minute mark, flipped them and then put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes. The result? A nice crispy crust on the outside and tender goodness on the inside.
  • The patties can be made ahead, shaped and refrigerated and / or frozen.

And here is the finished product!  Oh how I wish you could smell my kitchen right now, you guys…those spices are so fragrant and yummy! I decided to top mine with a tiny bit of vegan mayo, sliced roasted red pepper and avocado! I opted for no bun…because well, 1. we don’t have any in our house and 2. these burgers are so filling, you really don’t even need one.

 

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Please let me know what you think of this recipe if you make it! <3

Be Well,

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Plant Powered Protein Day 1: Tofu // Veggie Stir Fry Recipe

Plant Powered Protein Day 1: Tofu // Veggie Stir Fry Recipe

Welcome to day one of our #PlantPoweredProtein series!

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll know that the question I get asked the most whenever I tell someone that I’m vegan or plant-based is: “So you don’t eat meat? Where do you get your protein from?”  The repetition of this question inspired me to shed some light on protein sources outside of meat. While I’m sure that a few of the items mentioned in this series won’t be a surprise to most of you, my hope is that you’ll learn more about the sources that you’re already familiar with and be introduced to others that might not initially come to mind.

With that being said, let’s dive into day one: tofu!

I chose to start this series with tofu because I think it’s a food that most people have heard of, yet may be intimidated by or unfamiliar with. Tofu is merely just condensed soybean liquid that has been curdled, and that curd is then pressed to form a solid. On it’s own, tofu has little to no flavor, which makes it great for cooking because it easily absorbs the flavors of whatever it’s added to.

Tofu is obviously part of this series because it’s a great source of protein (an average serving of tofu contains between 8-10g of protein, which is around 15-20% of the recommended daily amount a person should be consuming), however it’s also considered to be a “complete food.” This means that tofu contains all of the essential amino acids that humans need to live. Tofu is also a rich source of calcium, iron and is a cholesterol-free food.

Tofu comes in a variety of consistencies depending on how much water is pressed out when it’s being processed:

  • Silken: With the highest water content of the bunch, this type of tofu has a really silky or creamy texture. Its smooth consistency makes it easy to add to smoothies, desserts and can even be used as an egg substitute if you’re dairy-free.
  • Soft: A little firmer than silken, soft tofu is great to use in soups.
  • Firm: Firm tofu is a completely different texture than silken or soft and is the best of the group for absorbing the flavors of whatever it’s being cooked with. The most favorable ways to cook with this tofu are in stir fries or pan frying dishes.
  • Extra / super firm: Extra and super firm tofu varieties have the highest protein content / least amount of water. Due to their lower water content, this type of tofu is great for baking, grilling and frying because they’re less likely lose their shape or texture. Extra or super firm tofu can be a little more challenging when it comes to infusing flavor, but they have the most solid texture in terms of consistency.

From a personal standpoint, I prefer extra or super firm tofu. If you’ve tried tofu in the past and the consistency has freaked you out (IE soft / squishy / really chewy), try extra or super firm and see if that doesn’t change your mind. 🙂

What to understand when buying tofu:

  • Tofu may get a bad rap because some varieties out there can be genetically-modified. No bueno. So, when you’re at your local grocery store and you’re considering picking up some tofu, your best bet is to look for tofu that is organic and that “Non-GMO Project Verified” is clearly stated on the package.
  • I’ve talked briefly in other blog posts about what tofu I buy, but to reiterate that again here: I always try to find organic sprouted super firm tofu (like this from Nasoya). Regular tofu is made from whole soybeans, but sprouted tofu is made with sprouted soybeans. Why does this matter? When beans or seeds are sprouted, they’re more nutrient-dense and are a lot easier to digest than the regular beans or seeds, which is great if you’re just introducing tofu into your diet.
  • Definitely note that while extra and super firm varieties of tofu have the lowest water content, there will still be water in the container. If I can’t find tofu that’s already pressed (I tend to buy Nasoya brand a lot and they have a line of pre-pressed tofu that comes in a vacuum-sealed package), I’ll just take the tofu block out of the package, wrap it in a kitchen towel, place a cutting board on top of it with a heavy object (IE a free weight or a large cookbook) and press the remaining water out of the tofu for about 15 minutes.

 

Okay, now on to the recipe! I’m sharing a super easy veggie stir fry. What I love about stir frying is that the meal comes together really quickly and can be a great Meatless Monday option that you can easily prep on Sunday.

Ingredients:

  • One package of Nasoya’s organic sprouted super firm tofu
  • One medium head of broccoli (great source of Vitamin C and Vitamin K, reduces inflammation in the body and promotes heart health)
  • One orange bell pepper (boosts immunity in the body, reduces inflammation, great for the health of our hair, skin and eyes)
  • One celery heart (awesome source of Vitamin K, alkalizes the body, supports hydration, aids in digestion)
  • One cup of carrots (excellent source of vitamin A and is great for eye health, helps our bodies with digestion, reduces inflammation and boosts immunity)
  • And a marinade of:
    • 2 TBS sesame oil
    • 6 TBS of tamari lite
    • 1 TBS freshly grated ginger (you can use ground ginger if needed — ginger is a good source of antioxidants and is known to treat nausea, help with digestion and promote cell growth)
    • 2 tsp of chili pepper flakes (feel free to omit if you don’t like spice!)

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F
  • While your oven heats up, grab your tofu block and cut up your tofu into cubes.  Place parchment paper onto a baking sheet and arrange your tofu onto the baking sheet. Once your oven is up to temp, pop your tofu in and set your timer for 15 minutes. When your 15 minutes is up, flip your tofu and put them back in the oven for another 15 minutes until they’re golden and crispy on the outside.  When your tofu is done, set aside and let cool for 20 minutes.

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  • Next, chop up all of your veggies (you can use whatever veggies sound good to you) and throw them into a bowl or container big enough for you to stir / mix them together (eventually adding your tofu). Whisk together the ingredients for your marinade and drizzle over your vegetables, stirring to make sure everything is coated.
  • If you’re meal prepping, this is a great place to stop. Add your cooled tofu to your bowl of veggies, give everything a good stir, cover and store in the fridge until you’re ready to cook. This allows all of the flavors of the marinade to mix and hang out with the rest of your ingredients.

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  • If you’re not meal prepping, pour all of your ingredients into a large skillet or wok over medium heat.  As everything starts to sizzle, stir occasionally to ensure that all ingredients are getting cooked.

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  • Once your veggies are warm and tender, remove from heat and serve immediately!

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As always, if you make this recipe, let me know how it turns out for you! AND, definitely let me know what you think if you try tofu! : )

Be Well,

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Leftovers Remix: Mediterranean Quesadillas

Leftovers Remix: Mediterranean Quesadillas

I’m a big fan of leftovers and I especially love when I’m feeling creative enough to make leftovers from one meal into something totally different for another.

Every so often, my husband and I like to go to Park Grill, a mediterranean restaurant near our house. While they have a variety of veggie-friendly options, I usually always gravitate toward their vegetarian plate: cabbage salad, grape leaves, hummus, eggplant spread, tabbouli, red beets, pickles and pita (also comes with spinach and cheese pie, but I substitute that out for more of one of the others items like beets…I l-o-v-e beets). After grabbing take out from there late last week, I had leftover beets, hummus, tabbouli and eggplant spread and was feeling particularly lazy when making lunch yesterday. On top of my laziness, I was fighting an awful head cold and wanted something that was going to be fast and easy to make…cue: Mediterranean Quesadillas.

I took two frozen Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted grain tortillas that I defrosted and once they were warm, I sprayed a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil and and placed one of the tortillas in the pan. On top of the tortilla went my eggplant spread (a little less than 1/4 cup worth) and red beets. I sliced my red beets (had about 1.5 small beets) pretty thin and arranged them over the eggplant spread. On top of the slices, I sprinkled the tabbouli and placed half of a roasted red pepper on top of that. These peppers from Costco are my absolute favorite – they are so good:

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On top of my pepper was a little soy cheese. I spread the last of my hummus on the remaining tortilla and placed that on the very top. From there, I covered the pan to let the steam help warm everything up and melt the “cheese” a bit. After about four minutes, I flipped the quesadilla and let it cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Once it was done, the “cheese” was gooey, the tortillas had a nice crisp to them and the rest of the ingredients were warm. I quartered the quesadilla and ate one half for lunch and the other half for dinner! So easy, so flavorful and I love that I didn’t have to spend any money on not one, but two meals!

Do you have any favorite leftover remixes? If so, please share in the comments! 🙂

Be Well,

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Eggplant + Zucchini Lasagna with Spinach “Ricotta” – No Pasta Required!

Eggplant + Zucchini Lasagna with Spinach “Ricotta” – No Pasta Required!

Oh, how I wish you could smell my kitchen right now…I’ve got the beginning stages of my mom’s sauce cooking and it *inhales deeply*…smells amazing.

I will forever love the smell of garlic and onions cooking together on the stove (do we think that scent is part of a Yankee Candle line somewhere?). It’s so simple, but the instant I smell that delicious combination, I am flooded with familiarity. It’s the smell that would greet us the moment we stepped foot into my grandma’s house whenever my family would come down to the metro-Detroit area to visit. It’s the smell I’d wake up to on the mornings of birthday parties or other celebrations in the the house that I grew up in as my mom busily prepared to host guests. It’s amazing how much our sense of smell can impact us.

As an Italian, I am always down to eat Italian food 24/7. Obviously that might not be the best for my health and I have days when I want the smells and tastes of an Italian meal but I’m not necessarily in the mood for a plate of pasta, which is why I’m really excited to share this eggplant and zucchini lasagna recipe with you. As a kid, I never really loved eggplant, but as I’m finding more and more ways to cook with it, it’s really growing on me. What I love about this dish is that it’s hearty, filling, comforting, easy to make, and most of all, insanely delicious. Plus, you don’t get that “heavy” feeling like you might experience after eating pasta.

As I mentioned before, I’m making my mom’s tomato sauce recipe and it is one of my favorite things to make.

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For this recipe, you will need:

  • 4-6 cups of pasta sauce (preferably 6).  If you don’t want to make your own sauce, you can use any kind of marinara or tomato sauce that you prefer!
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 – 4 medium zucchini — I used two for this recipe, but in the future, I’ll likely use three. Using 3 – 4 will allow you to make more layers throughout the lasagna.
  • 15oz of your favorite ricotta cheese. If you’re dairy-free like I am, I found THE BEST vegan ricotta “cheese” recipe from The Simple Veganista that I tweaked and will share with you below. Seriously, it’s so good…I wrote it down and saved it with the rest of my favorite recipes in my kitchen, I love it that much. I grew up on Italian food and I truly believe that it has the same texture and taste as actual ricotta cheese. Yum!
    • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked (for at least two hours – the longer you let them soak, the creamier your mixture will be).
    • 3/4 cup water
    • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
    • 1 – 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
    • 2 garlic cloves (if you’re like me and love garlic, add more!)
    • Dash of onion powder
    • Himalayan sea salt & cracked pepper, to taste
    • 16oz fresh baby spinach

 

For the “pasta”

  • Wash and dry your eggplant and zucchini. Cut the ends off of your zucchini, and using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, carefully slice the zucchini length-wise. I used the thinnest setting possible on my mandolin, but next time, I’ll likely use the next option up from that. img_2386.jpg

 

  • Once your zucchini is sliced, place the slices in a bowl and set aside.

 

 

  • Next up, cut off the ends and peel the skin off of your eggplant. Using your mandolin again, slice the eggplant lengthwise, making sure the slices are the same thickness of your zucchini.

 

If you’ve made any kind of “pasta” dish with zucchini and / or eggplant before, you know that both vegetables retain a lot of water and as a result, can make your dish really watery. Sad. 🙁 We’re going to make sure that we dry out our veggies as much as possible with a couple of easy steps:

  • Grab some cooling racks that you use to bake cookies and lay out your veggies in a single layer on the rack. Once your veggies are lined up, sprinkle some salt over them. If you don’t have enough cooling racks to space out all of your slices, simply place a paper towel over the first layer veggies and add another layer of veggies on top of that, sprinkle with salt and repeat. The idea here with the salt is that it will help to draw out some of the water, causing the veggies to “sweat.”
  • While your veggies are hanging out, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F for step two in just a bit.

 

For the “cheese”

  • I seriously can’t tell you enough how much I love this “ricotta cheese.” It is unreal to me how amazing it tastes. Grab your food processor or high-speed blender and throw in your soaked (and drained) cashews, water, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, garlic cloves, onion powder, salt and pepper. Mix everything together on high or until you have a really smooth and creamy consistency.

 

  • Once your ricotta mixture is to your desired consistency and taste, scoop it out into a bowl and set aside.
  • As your oven is heating up and your veggies are sweating, grab your 16 oz of baby spinach and dump it into a large pan with some water in the bottom. Cover the pan and let the spinach cook / steam on medium-high heat for a few minutes until it has reduced in size and is a bright green color. Remove from heat.
  • Take a colander, place it in the sink and line it with a kitchen towel. Remove your spinach from the stove and pour the spinach into the dishtowel and let it sit for a few minutes to cool off. Once it’s cool enough to handle, ring out as much excess water from the spinach as you can.  Then, add your spinach to your ricotta mixture and stir gently to combine.

 

Okay. Back to our veggies again.

  • By now, your veggies should be pretty shiny from the water that they’re releasing and if you’ve used paper towels at all, chances are, they’re soaked. This is good! Line a few baking sheets with parchment paper and place your veggies in a single layer. It’s okay if they overlap a bit – they’ll shrink down in the oven. Give the veggies a light spritz of olive oil and pop them in the oven for just a few minutes. The heat will help evaporate more of the water.  Keep your eye on them — because they are so thin, they can burn easily (like some of mine did – oops!)

 

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  • Once your veggies have browned up a bit, take them out of the oven and let them cool while you get ready to assemble your lasagna.  In a casserole dish, scoop enough sauce to cover the bottom of the dish and then layer either some of your zucchini or eggplant. Spread some of your ricotta mixture on the veggies, top with a layer of sauce and then repeat. Repeat these steps until your veggies are gone, your ricotta is gone and you have just enough sauce left to add one final layer to the top. I added some fresh basil to the very top for some color.

 

  • Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes until the sauce on top is bubbling and the sides have browned a bit. Remove from the oven and let sit for five minutes before serving.

 

 

I promise that you won’t miss the pasta (or cheese!) in this recipe the moment you take your first bite. Enjoy! If you do try this recipe out, please let me know what you think!

Be Well,

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