Fall is here! I love fall ... the cooler weather, the hay rack rides, trips to the pumpkin patch and apple orchard, campfires, Halloween, the colorful leaves and the comfort food! It's time for soups, stews and casseroles, and the king of casseroles (at least in my book) is lasagna.
I've avoided making lasagna for a very long time, since I figured, "What's the point? I can't have the best part: cheese!" However, my friend Tina changed that for me. When Caroline was born, Tina brought me a lasagna that replaced the ricotta cheese filling with ... chick peas! I know, it sounds a little strange, but it really works. You gotta give it a shot!
Anyway, I came up with this recipe, taking what Tina made and adding a white sauce, which is the way my mom always made lasagna. (The white sauce on top also helps disguise the lack of cheese.) Feel free to adapt the recipe to your personal taste. Don't like spinach? Leave it out. Want vegetarian? Leave out the meat and add sauteed veggies. Can't have eggs? Leave them out -- the bean mixture just may not firm up as well.
There's a lot of steps that goes into making this lasagna, but don't let that scare you away. It isn't difficult to make!
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 10 oz. packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup flour
2 cups rice milk
Cook meat in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until no longer pink; drain. Mix in pasta sauce and set aside.
Meanwhile, cook and drain noodles according to package directions. Arrange noodles in a single layer on a clean dish towel and set aside.
Drain and rinse beans and place in a blender or food processor. Add eggs, oregano and salt and pepper, to taste. Blend until mixture is smooth, adding a little bit of water if necessary. Set aside.
Prepare white sauce by heating oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in rice milk. Boil one minute, stirring constantly. Season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. (If you like, add a pinch of nutmeg. It goes well with the spinach.)
Tip: The bean mixture will firm up in the baking process, however, if it seems too thin after you blend it, you can thicken it slightly with a tablespoon or two of MSPI-friendly bread crumbs.