For the last couple of months, I’ve been “informally” trying to eat vegan during the day, based on Mark Bittman’s VB6 book.
It’s a struggle, especially since my convenient breakfast of choice is yogurt. And, wouldn’t you know, just as I started trying non-dairy yogurts, the Whole Soy company moved their plant, which has resulted in weeks of little to no supply on the market. So far, I prefer their soy yogurt to the almond and coconut milk versions I’ve tried. And none of them are as good (or come in as good flavors) as Chobani. Darn!
And then there’s the problem of lunch. Cheese is a big issue, because that’s what makes up for the lack of meat in many dishes I might try. I’ve had a lot of bean soups, of course, until I’m sick of them. I’m not a huge soup or chili person to begin with, so I can only do that 2-3 days a week.
Now that it’s hot, I’ll often go the meze route, making up a container of hummus, stuffed grape leaves, lentil tabbouleh, what have you (I miss the feta!). I also like the Lentil Dal patties sold at Whole Foods, they are quite good. But sometimes I want something that feels more indulgent, and that’s where this dish came in.
Ever the experimentalist, I had bought some shredded soy cheese at the market (a Colby-jack blend if I remember correctly). I also bought some fake “Parmesan.” a crumbly orange-ish product, nut-based, with nutritional yeast in it. (I know, ugh.) Then, one day, when I had some shitake and baby bella mushrooms, not knowing just what I’d do with them, I got the idea of making a vegan lasagna, one without tomato, because I love a “blond” lasagna.
This was also inspired by the nice looking very thin fresh no-boil pasta sheets I had sitting in the fridge, needing to be used (ShopRite). Of course, until this was going in the oven, I forgot they were made with egg! So next time, I will use the also very good Delverde no-boil lasagna noodles, which are egg free (look in Wegmans). Also, this has pesto in it, and what I had on hand was of course made with real Parmesan cheese. But there’s no reason why you can’t make your own pesto without the cheese. My father often made his that way, froze it in small cups, then added the cheese when he used it. I doubt I’d miss it in this dish. I mixed the pesto with about a cup of purchased vegetarian stock, so it would be saucy – no on wants a dry lasagna!
So, we have layers of pasta, mushrooms sautéed in olive oil, the soy cheese, and a few sprinkles of that orange-y “Parmesan,” with the pesto/stock poured over the layers.
Into the oven it went, at 350° for about 25 minutes, until it was bubbling away. Much to my amazement, the soy cheese melted very nicely – obviously they have made great strides with this stuff, although we have to realize this is a highly processed product. But it totally satisfied that yen for something hearty and decadent. Of course, this is a high fat dish, just not so much saturated fat or cholesterol. Still, I enjoyed it for several lunches, and, dare I say, even a dinner, with salad on the side.