Monday, July 13, 2015

Spinach, Seitan, and Mushroom Rice Lasagna (No Added Fat)

Late last week, my daughter and I loved some lasagna that we found at our new nearby Durham Co-op Market. I picked up some lasagna noodles that were on sale made from rice. Today, we found some beautiful purple cabbage leaves separated from heads of cabbage, and picked them up to be "plates". With my daughter's excited help, I put together a lasagna dinner. Here is what I did.

  • 8 ounces of mushrooms cut into roughly 1/2" thick slices (about 3 cups; I used organic baby portabellas)
  • 3/4 of a medium bell pepper cut into approx. 3/8" squares (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cups chopped spinach
  • 25 ounces marinara sauce
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 8 ounces seitan cut to any size but of relatively thin (maybe 1/4") thickness
  • 2 cloves (or to taste) garlic, finely (approx. 1/8") chopped
  • 1 small or medium onion cut into thin (less than 1/4") slices (just over a cup)
  • 10 ounce no boil lasagna (I used rice lasagna; there were 2"x10" noodles)
  • (Optional) 4 ounces vegan cheese
  • (Optional) 1/8 t per plate sprinkle of dried oregano and/or chili powder and/or nutritional yeast
  1. I put the mushroom, bell pepper, spinach, 1 cup of the marinara, and salt into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked on high pressure for 2 minutes.
  2. I waited a few minutes then slowly let out remaining pressure and mixed in the seitan, garlic, and onion.
  3. I used a 3 quart rectangular casserole dish measuring 13"x9"x2" and spread another cup of the marinara sauce at the bottom.
  4. I had 12 lasagna noodles. I made three rows of two noodles (i.e., 6 noodles) at the bottom of the casserole dish.
  5. I spooned in about a cup of the filling. On about a third of the surface area, I sprinkled on a little vegan cheese (maybe 3 ounces) for my daughter.
  6. I created a layer of single noodles (i.e., three noodles) and put in another 1/2 cup or so of the filling, adding another ounce or so of vegan cheese on my daughter's section.
  7. I put on the final three noodles and spooned the remaining marinara (about 2/3 cup) on top.
  8. I covered the baking dish and baked in a preheated 375°F oven for half an hour, then served with a light sprinkle of oregano atop a cabbage leaf, along, simply, with a raw baby bok choy leaf and an olive.


Wow, we all loved the lasagna and had seconds; I even had thirds! We finished more than 2/3 of what I had made. The noodles could have used a tad more cooking and some of the top layer noodles were hard, needing better sauce coverage and a bit more cook time. The ingredients went quite well together; I offered nutritional yeast and chili powder as optional toppings at the table. My wife was quite surprised that there was no added fat. I tried a small piece of my daughter's with vegan cheese - the ingredients were so rich that the cheese was unnecessary, in my opinion. This is a winner but I could tweak the recipe a bit - not bad for hardly ever having made lasagna before!

Ideas for the future

I should try cooking for 40m next time and should include more sauce, maybe even tomato paste, on the top. A small dollop of pesto added at serving time might be nice.

I am glad that I cooked the filling briefly in the pressure cooker, to enhance flavor, before baking the lasagna. I could have included a little garlic in the pressure cooked phase for a roasted flavor, and a bit more garlic overall. My wife has trouble digesting tofu, but otherwise mashed tofu would be a great filling.

It's difficult not to think of additional filling ingredients. I'll bet sundried tomato would be nice. A little sprig of spring onion and bitter radicchio served atop the cooked lasagna would be nice.

The rice noodles were nice. I don't know if I just missed it, but these were made with white rice; I'll bet brown rice noodles are available. We're not gluten averse and I'm happy to use any vegan noodles, particularly if they are on sale :-) .

It was fun making the lasagna, especially with my daughter. I'd love to come up with variants and try again with her.

Incidentally, I had about 2 cups of the filling leftover, and will plan to mix it with, perhaps, beans or other ingredients for a new dish in a few days. For the future, if I don't want so much extra, I should cut the quantity of the filling.

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