Wandering through my local supermarket with my gluten free, egg free, dairy free son, I saw down on the bottom shelf of the gluten free isle a box of rice lasagne noodles. I was curious and picked them up. Nate started screaming for some of his favorite gluten free cookies, Mary’s Gone Crackers Ginger Cookies, and I casually tossed the noodles into my cart. I also collected a beautiful, large local grown cauliflower head, and some lean ground beef. A thought began to form about making lasagne TONIGHT! I thought I was crazy, I had no recipe and never made any lasagne besides the big heavy Italian beast from my New Jersey heritage. Lasagne which was layered with ricotta cheese, extra parmigiano reggiano, hand grated of course! And tons of gooey cheesy mozzarella. Plus a meat sauce that was rich and thick and garlicky.
Enough with the past, I thought! I will make a lasagne that everyone in my family will enjoy! (This is an impossible feat since my daughter detests red sauce, but that is a sad story for another day!)
At home I happened to have an opened package of light silken tofu. It was not my favorite food, since I had wanted to make dip with it, and it was gross. I decided to make an entirely experimental white layer simply from mashed cauliflower and tofu! And I have to tell you that it WORKED!! I had no recipe and no idea what I was getting myself into. I had only seen mashed cauliflower on a paleo blog and never tried it before, so this began as wishful thinking. I know it was a success because my husband said to me while eating it “how did you get it to look like ricotta?”! Ahhh he made my day!!
This lasagne is very light, we ate 3/4 of the pan, just myself, my husband and my son. There is definitely room for seconds with this one!
1 package of Tinkyada Organic Brown Rice Pasta Lasagne, cooked according to package directions
1 jar tomato basil sauce 24oz
1 package lean ground beef, approximately 1 lb
1 package light silken tofu, well drained
1 Tbsp Earth Balance spread, original
1 Large head or 2 small heads cauliflower, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
Fresh herbs if available (I used some leftover sage in mine!)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
I like to multi-task this because making lasagne is like riding a bike for me. Again, it’s that New Jersey thing. Now start boiling 2 pots of salted water, a large one for the lasagne noodles and a medium one for the cauliflower. On a third burner on your stovetop, heat olive oil over medium heat and add your beef. Season beef to taste with salt, pepper, garlic powder. Once beef is more than halfway done, add onions and continue to saute, stirring occasionally, until onions are transparent, approximately 8 minutes.
Add coarsely chopped cauliflower to it’s pot of water, and boil vigorously, covered, approximately 8 minutes. Once the water is boiling for the noodles, add them. Be careful not to overcook the noodles, I even recommend taking them out 1 minute earlier than the package directions since they will be baked also.
While everything is cooking, lay a long piece of parchment paper out.
By now, the meat should be done. Add your jar of sauce to the meat and mix to combine, turning the heat off.
Next carefully drain your lasagne noodles into a colander, so that none of the pieces break. Carefully pour cold water over them. Once the noodles are able to be touched (but don’t wait too long or they stick together!), carefully lay them out flat on the parchment paper. This step was ingrained in me from my childhood! My sister is an expert at this.
Next prepare the white layer that is subbing for the cheese. Drain the cauliflower well, and mash with a potato masher. Also drain well the silken tofu. Add the tofu and 1 Tbsp Earth Balance spread to the cauliflower and continue mashing. It does not combine but looks almost curdled. Once baked, this is what gives it the look and feel of ricotta! Add black pepper and fresh herbs if desired.
The fun part – layering! In a lasagne dish, start by spreading a thin layer of the red sauce on the bottom. Next, lay out 3 noodles length wise. Then spread half of the white layer, then spread out half of the red sauce layer. Repeat once. End on a noodle layer, and if you have a tiny bit extra of either white or red sauce left, spread over the top. Cover with foil. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes.
This lasagne, I want to repeat, is light. Great for dieting perhaps? The tofu and cauliflower simply isn’t cheese, but it is a delicious meal. Nathan loved it and repeatedly asked for more! So success? Yes!!
In this last picture, you can almost hear him saying “mmm… more!”