Dairy and Egg Free Lasagna and etc.

Another crazy few weeks around here! I’m sure you all are feeling the end of the school year pinch too. Field trips and parties are the common theme these last few weeks, and so that usually means the final push of food issues…that is until camp starts. One recent story comes to mind:

Religious Ed Donut Party: My son came home from religious ed Sunday morning totally bummed because apparently his teacher handed out Dunkin Donuts as a reward for something earned by the class. The teacher did ask if any children in the class had any food allergies and if so to raise their hand. Um, hello, it’s MAY. He doesn’t know that one of his students has a life threatening food allergy at this point in the school year? It’s all over the paperwork I fill out when I register him for class and every week he brings a bright red allergy medicine bag with him. Not only could this have put John at serious risk but it was so unnecessary for a one hour religious ed class. Why oh why oh why must we keep using food, and sugary donuts at that, as a reward for positive behavior? What upset me most was how excluded and bummed John felt, being the only kid in that class to not eat anything during their donut party. I wasn’t even notified ahead of time so I could have sent something different. I’ll handle this with the religious ed department, and believe me they’ll get an earful. In the meantime, John asked if I could make a glazed donut or one with frosting and sprinkles. It’s time I start making donuts again; I want to make the best version possible for him and everyone else. :) Stay tuned on that….

I also wanted to share my newest favorite Dairy and Egg Free Lasagna recipe; it’s made with ground turkey and spinach but you could certainly omit or add anything you want. This recipe is completely adaptable to your family’s personal tastes. I’ve used several lasagna recipes in my life, many with gobs and gobs of yummy REAL cheese, and then of course the last eight years, I’ve made a few dairy free lasagna recipes with every type of dairy and cheese substitute imaginable. I have to admit, I love cheese and I miss it especially in dishes like lasagna. Baked pasta dishes are meant for cheese. I’ve played around with various lasagna recipes for years and this is the one I think I’ll keep. My Italian husband LOVED it, and my FA son John really loved it. My FPIES son Michael loved the meat and noodles, and especially the crumbled tofu. My other three children loved the meat and noodles. It is a great recipe that everyone loved. And it’s even better the next day. It also freezes very well for one month.

You could use my tomato sauce recipe from a few posts ago for the sauce, (the one with the turkey meatballs), and add browned, cooked ground turkey. To save time, you could also just use a jarred sauce (I use Bertolli Red Wine Marinara)  and add browned turkey or browned ground beef. I also like to add some fresh herbs to the final sauce to freshen the flavor. A few other tips to save time: use oven ready pasta sheets or you could use whatever egg free pasta brand you like. The “ricotta” mixture is actually crumbled tofu with a little sweetener and vinegar. I love to add thawed frozen spinach to the tofu mixture, and sometimes I’ll even add finely chopped leftover cooked broccoli, zucchini, etc. too. But make sure to finely mince it. I also like to make a dairy free Bechamel sauce while I’m browning the ground turkey. The bechamel is mixed with the tomato meat sauce mixture to make a creamier, “cheesy” sauce. I use the dairy free mozzarella cheese sparingly in between layers because it isn’t real cheese and gets too gooey if you over do it. The bechamel makes up for the lack of “cheesy” layers. One more note about the dairy free cheese: you’ll want to broil the top of the lasagna at the very end for a couple of minutes to get that beautiful browned cheese look. Finally, I like to make this recipe in two 8 inch glass baking dish, one for smaller lasagna for today, freeze the other for another night. If you use the old-fashioned kind of noodles that need to be boiled, just cut the noodles in half to fit the 8 inch square dish.  Alternatively make the dish in a 13 x 9 glass baking dish.  Enjoy!

DAIRY AND EGG FREE LASAGNA

Tomato Sauce:

1 large jar marinara sauce or 2 c. homemade sauce

1 tsp. olive oil

1 lb. ground turkey

1/4 c. chopped fresh basil

1/4 c. chopped Italian parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Dairy Free Bechamel Sauce:

4 T. dairy free margarine

3 T. flour

2 c. dairy free soy or rice milk

salt and pepper to taste

pinch nutmeg

Dairy Free Ricotta Mixture:

2 packages Firm Tofu, undrained

3/4 tsp. agave nectar

1 1/2 apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thoroughly squeezed and drained

For Layering

1 package dairy free mozzarella cheese, shredded (I use Follow Your Heart, but many people love Daiya’s shredded cheese. We cannot use it because it contains pea protein)

1/2 package no boil lasagna noodles or other egg free noodles, (if using regular noodles, cook and drain according to manufacturers’ directions).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and rub the bottom of two 8 inch glass baking dishes with dairy free margarine. Set aside.

To make tomato sauce, heat large skillet on medium high and add 1 tsp. olive oil. When hot add ground turkey, add a few grinds of pepper and a pinch of salt and cook until no longer pink and cooked through. Add tomato sauce to skillet, and add fresh basil and herbs. Simmer on low and start making Bechamel sauce.

To make Bechamel Sauce, melt dairy free margarine on low in a saucepan. Add the flour to saucepan and whisk mixture until flour is incorporated and not lumpy, about 1 minute or so. Slowly add the soy or rice milk, and a little kosher salt and pepper to taste. Whisk constantly for about 10-15 minutes or until mixture resembles heavy cream and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Once sauce is thick, add to the tomato sauce mixture and simmer on low to heat through.

To make “Ricotta”, mix all Ricotta ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.

To make layers:

Ladle 1/4 c. tomato/bechamel sauce on each 8 inch glass pan. Add pasta sheets, layer “dairy free” tofu ricotta mixture on top of sheets, then the tomato meat sauce, then a 1/4 c. or so dairy free cheese. Repeat mixture 2 times, ending with tomato sauce mixture on top. (Feel free to cover the other lasagna pan tightly with foil and freeze. ) Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle a 1/4 – 1/2 c. dairy free mozzarella cheese on top. Switch oven to broil and broil for 2 minutes or less to get a slightly browned look on top.

Let dish settle for 10-15 minutes and serve.