Meat-lovers Lasagna

allergy-free lasagna

Last week I was craving lasagna like nobody's business.

Seriously, I hadn't had lasagna in over three years so I was long overdue. I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to pull off making it 8SAFE, but why not give it a shot?

Not a meat-lover? Check out the vegan version here.

My apologies up front for such a long post, but I really wanted to share with you all that I know because lasagna is a great recipe to have in your arsenal. Does it take a little work? Yes. But so worth it. 

  • Lasagna is pretty flexible, so you can adjust it according to your tastes. You can add some browned 8SAFE sausage if you'd like it a little spicier!
  • You will have amazing leftovers — just cut into serving size pieces, warm in the oven at 350 for ten minutes and you're done! Who doesn't love a night off from cooking? 
  • It's also a great meal for entertaining — it can be prepped ahead of time and then simply popped in the oven before guests arrive. No sweating your butt off in the kitchen! 
  • And you also have the option to freeze a tray for an easy no-fuss dinner away from home. Just pack it on ice in a cooler and take it with you!
  • If you live in a household where you're cooking separate meals, it's easy to make a regular lasagna at the same time. Simply substitute the rice noodles for regular, the chickpea cheese for ricotta, and then add some small chunks of mozzarella. Easy peasy!

So really, what's not to love?

Chickpea Cheese in the mini-chop

Chickpea Cheese in the mini-chop

I do admit that the thought of making lasagna without cheese was disheartening. What else could mimic the consistency, flavor, and mouthfeel I was looking for? I had the idea to create a ricotta 'cheese' by making a paste from chick peas. I could add some olive oil, lemon juice, nutritional yeast. And guess what? It worked!

Now I gotta tell you — on it's own, the chickpea cheese doesn't really taste like cheese. It has a cheese-like quality, and kind of hits the same spots on your tongue as ricotta. But obviously it's not the same thing. However, when it's layered in the lasagna with all the other goodies the resulting flavor is surprisingly cheesy, which makes me think it may be good on pizza too, hmmmm.....

Recipe notes:

I remember I was so intimidated when I first made lasagna. But I really had no reason to be. All it takes is some time to prep the ingredients before you start to assemble it. I would figure on somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour before it's ready to go in the oven. 

First, boil your water and cook your rice noodles (according to the package directions) on the stove. Then you can prep the other ingredients at the same time. Make the chickpea cheese, chop and saute your mushrooms, defrost the box of spinach (you will want to drain off any extra water from the spinach of your lasagna will become a soupy mess. I like to hold it in handfuls above the sink and squeeze  it dry).

When the noodles are done, rinse them in cold water, then lay them out flat to dry on either drying racks or draped over the sides of their cooking pot. You want to put aside the best looking noodles for the bottom and top layers of the lasagna, the broken pieces can be used in the middle.

You're going to need some space to work, like your kitchen table or island. Surround your lasagna pan with  the ingredients in separate bowls within arms' reach. Then you can start assembling the lasagna. I thought it would help to have the visual so I included the photos below as a step-by-step guide.

After going through the sequence twice, you will add the top noodles and final layer of sauce. You can add a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley if you'd like.

Once you have assembled the lasagna, cover it tightly with aluminum foil. You then have the option to bake it or refrigerate it for up to two days. Personally, I love to make it early in the day and stick it in the fridge for at least an hour or two before I bake it. 

And one final note: I found that the 'secret' to getting the right flavor is to properly salt the lasagna. Which will be a personal thing so it's a little tricky to instruct you. You want to put enough salt to really bring out the flavors (and mimic the saltiness of cheese) but you need to be careful not to oversalt it as well. So when you sit down to eat your cooked lasagna, if it's falling flat, just give it a few shakes of salt and you should see a world of difference. 


8SAFE allergy-free lasagna

Meat-Lovers Lasagna

For this recipe, the 8SAFE processed ingredients that I used were: Tinkyada Pasta Joy Brown Rice Pasta Lasagna, MUIR GLEN Organic Tomato Sauce, Italian Herb flavor, Eden Organic Garbanzo Beans (chick peas), Bragg Premium Nutritional Yeast Seasoning, and Napa Valley Naturals Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

 

Master ingredient list:

  • 1 lg jar 25 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 pkg brown rice lasagna noodles
  • 1 lb ground beef (preferably humanely-raised)
  • 1 cup Garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp pink himalyan salt 
  • 1/4 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 4 tsp Olive Oil 
  • pinch of fresh chopped parsley (optional)
  • 1 pkg (8 oz) white button mushrooms, cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large handful (4 oz) portabella mushrooms, cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt

 

For the Chickpea Cheese:

  • 1 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp pink himalyan salt 
  • 1/4 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 4 tsp Olive Oil 
  • pinch of fresh chopped parsley (optional)

Add the chickpeas to a blender or food processor and pulse a few times to break them down. Add the lemon juice, salt, nutritional yeast, olive oil, and parsley. Puree until smooth.

 

For the noodles:

  • 1 pkg brown rice lasagna noodles

Cook noodles according to package directions, drain and rinse with cold water. Separate and lay them out flat, setting aside your best noodles for the bottom and top layers.

 

For the Mushrooms:

  • 1 pkg (8 oz) white button mushrooms, cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large handful (4 oz) portabella mushrooms, cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt

Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally for 5-8 minutes, until they release their juices. Remove from heat and set aside.

 

For the ground beef:

  • 1 lb ground beef (preferably humanely-raised)
  • pinch of salt and pepper

In the same pan that you cooked the mushrooms (no need to clean it first) brown the ground beef over medium heat until no longer pink throughout. Remove from heat, and season with a little salt and pepper. 

 

For the Spinach:

  • 1 small pkg frozen chopped spinach (between 10 and 14 oz), defrosted

Squeeze out any excess water from the spinach. Set aside in bowl.

 

 

For the Lasagna:

Gather all ingredients and place around the baking pan within arms' reach. Then assemble:

  1. Scoop out a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce and put a thin layer on the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add one layer of the best noodles, overlapping the noodles and bringing them to the edges of the pan. Trim the noodles if necessary.
  3. Plop 8 or 9 dollops of chickpea cheese on top of the noodles, spaced evenly over the noodles. 
  4. Add a large sprinkling of mushrooms, then ground beef, followed by the spinach.
  5. Add 2-3 tablespoons of tomato sauce to the top of each mound.
  6. Then add noodles over the mounds, overlapping like you did in step 2 (you can use broken noodles for this step and piece them together). Using the palms of both hands, gently press down on the noodles to level out the mounds underneath and smooth into a nice even layer.
  7. Repeat steps 3 to 5, using the noodles you set aside for the top. 
  8. Again, use the palms of your hands to level out the mounds underneath and smooth the top out into a nice even layer.
  9. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce over the noodles, making sure to cover the edges and corners (which can dry out and burn otherwise). Sprinkle with fresh parsley. Cover with aluminum foil.
  10. Heat in a 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes.
  11. Enjoy!