Lasagna is a classic, cool weather dish that is typically laden with calories and saturated fat, so here is an easy-to-make, nutritious version of the traditional cheese filled Italian recipe. This plant-based lasagna is unique in the fact that it is layered with three different vegetables and combined with a creamy cashew pesto, which is a great alternative to other fillings. Because eggplant is one of the main vegetables used in the lasagna, antioxidants play a large nutritional role within this recipe. Scientifically speaking, antioxidants help strengthen body cells and tissues to become more resistant to dysfunction, disease, anti-aging, or free radical damage (1), and the biomarker TAC (total antioxidant capacity test) is used to determine the strength of antioxidants in certain foods. It is also useful to evaluate nutritional interventions with TAC rich foods on disease risk and prevention (1). Eggplant is a good source of antioxidants, and is listed as a food with a good TAC score (1). So the next time you want to have an Italian dinner at home, try out this healthful, veggie-filled lasagna; it’s sure to leave your stomachs happy and your taste buds wanting more.
2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight or boiled for 20 minutes until tender
5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup water
2 cups basil, washed
2 lemons, juiced
½ cup olive oil
9x13 casserole dish
3-4 baking sheets
3-4 pieces of parchment paper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Line 3-4 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place red peppers on one baking sheet, and drizzle one tablespoon olive oil over them. Top with ¼ teaspoon sea salt and sprinkle of pepper.
Place the peppers in the oven, and roast them for 15 minutes on each side, or until lightly charred and peppers cave in towards the side. When done, remove from oven and place peppers in a bowl covered with plastic wrap to steam. After 10 minutes, peel off the skins, remove the core and slice the peppers in strips. Set aside.
On the second baking sheet, add eggplant and zucchini and drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over them. Top with ¼ teaspoon sea salt and sprinkle of pepper.
Roast eggplant and zucchini for 25 minutes until lightly browned. When done, remove from oven and let cool. Set aside.
In a food processor, add garlic cloves, cashews, nutritional yeast, sea salt and water. Process until smooth.
Add basil, lemon juice and olive oil while processing. Mix until smooth, and set aside.
Using a ladle, scoop 1 cup of the tomato sauce in casserole dish to cover the bottom. Place 4 lasagna noodles crosswise so they completely cover the bottom of the dish, breaking them to fit as necessary.
Cover the noodles with one-third of the cashew-pesto mixture, and evenly spread it with a rubber spatula.
Layer ½ the zucchini, ½ the eggplant, and ½ the roasted peppers. Repeat steps 1-3 one more time. Top with the remaining lasagna noodles, cashew-pesto and sauce.
Place lasagna in the oven, and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until it is browned and bubbly. Allow to sit for 10 minutes and serve hot.
Place diced eggplant in a colander and sprinkle salt over the eggplant. Lay a paper towel over the eggplant, and put a heavy object over it so the bitter liquid can drain. No-cook noodles make this dish easier to prepare. If you can't find no-cook noodles, cook noodles to package directions. Assemble the lasagna completely and refrigerate for up to 1 day or freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost (if necessary) and bake before dinner.
Optional: Divide the remaining 1 cup pesto among eight to twelve plates, spreading it out with the back of a spoon. Set a lasagna square on top.
(1) Kusano, C., Ferrari, B. Total Antioxidant Capacity: a biomarker in biomedical and nutritional studies. Journal of Cell and Molecular Biology. 7(1): 1-15, 2008. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.569.4404&rep=rep1&type=pdf