Just the other night I was talking about how uninspired I was with the zucchini sitting in my fridge. I’m a little picky when it comes to zucchini preparation, I enjoy raw zucchini noodles and recently took a liking to grilled zucchini but usually just write it off as a lackluster vegetable in my book. I was sitting through my clinic shift when I became inspired out of the blue to turn this vegetable into a makeshift lasagna, replacing the noodles with zucchini slices. End results? I was blown away with how great it turned out and how quickly it came together.
1/2 cup raw cashews
2 Field Roast Vegan Grain Sausages of your choice, found at Whole Foods (caution: the Mexican Chiptole is HOT)
Olive Oil, for sauteing
12 ounces tomato basil pasta sauce (1/2 a jar)
1 small yellow onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup frozen spinach
1 large zucchini
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons fresh basil
Non stick cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 350°F on the convection setting.
Place the cashews in a bowl of warm water to soak, set aside.
Remove two of the sausages from their casings and roughly chop into crumbles. In a pan with two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat saute the crumbles until they start to brown around some of the edges. Stir in the tomato sauce and three tablespoons of water, remove from heat and set aside.
In another pan saute the onion with a little olive oil until translucent, place in a bowl and set aside. In the same pan saute the bell pepper until it starts to sweat, about 1 minute, add it to the bowl with the sauteed onion. Lastly, using the same pan, saute the frozen spinach until it has thawed and all the water has cooked out, remove from heat.
Prepare your zucchini by carefully cutting it lengthwise into 6 even thin strips.
To make the cashew lemon basil ricotta cheese: drain the cashews and add them to a high powered blender along with the lemon juice, mustard, nutritional yeast, garlic, basil and two tablespoons of water- blend until smooth. You may need to stop the blender and push the mixture down with a spatula a few times but it will come together.
Spray a loaf pan with non stick cooking spray and begin assembling, first by adding a spoonful of the meat sauce to the bottom of the pan. You will only have enough cheese for 2 of the 3 zucchini layers, this is okay as it is very rich. Layer in the following order: 2 pieces of zucchini, cheese (skip the cheese on the first layer), onions, peppers, spinach, sauce- repeat.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Makes about 3 servings but can easily be doubled if you use a larger pan.
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