No-Pasta Lasagna

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I just threw this together using the ingredients I had on hand. I mostly didn’t keep track of how much I used of any ingredient. I gave the leftovers to my daughter and she wanted the recipe, so here it is to the best of my recollection. Thing is, you can’t really go wrong, as long as you have the layers, and tasty ingredients in each. I only used one layer of potatoes at the bottom for a nice solid bottom, but it would be tastier (though more starchy) with several layers of potatoes. I tried to remember what I put into the tomato sauce, but really you’re fine as long as you end up with a thick, tasty, meaty sauce (the “meat” I used is vegan, so I use the term “meaty” to indicate texture, not necessarily flesh — I think this would work fine with crumbled tempeh as well as any ground meat or sausage).

I made my own ricotta, but you can get store-bought. I didn’t make enough, actually, so I only hade very scant layers of the ricotta mixture. I ended up with about 1 cup of ricotta. Two would have been better, so that’s what I’m putting down.

To keep low-sodium, I use cheeses that are generally low in sodium (but check the labels because some brands add more salt than others): swiss, gruyere, or emmentaler, fresh mozzerella, and homemade ricotta. The chorizo I used was 440mg sodium per serving, and 4 servings in the 10 oz package. Since this dish ends up making about 8 servings, that’s about 220mg per serving added by the sausage, which is pretty good as sausages go.

I get many of my ingredients, including the chorizo, from Imperfect Foods. (If you use this link, you get $10 off your first order and I get a $10 credit.) Again, I’m sure any sausage you enjoy will do. This chorizo is spicy enough that I didn’t feel the need to add any hot pepper.

I get most of my spices from Penzey’s. (I get nothing for this link, I’m just a fan). They have a lot of great salt-free seasoning mixes (my favorite is Justice, which would definitely have gone into at least the ricotta mixture and potato layer if I hadn’t run out).

Ingredients

1 large russet potato, peeled and sliced very thinly
6 oz swiss, gruyere, or emmentaler cheese, shredded
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 zucchinis, sliced very thinly in length (this is your “lasagna” noodle)
1 large onion, chopped
1 poblano pepper, chopped (or other mild pepper)
olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
herbs and spices, to taste (I used fresh sage, fresh thyme, and Penzey’s Frozen Pizza Seasoning)
10 oz No Evil Plant-Based Chorizo – El Zapatista
14 oz canned whole cherry tomatoes or crushed tomatoes
2 cups ricotta cheese
3 eggs
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped with 1 clove garlic
8 oz fresh mozzerella sliced
Panko bread crumbs
1 tbsp butter

Directions

Butter or spray a 9″x13″x2″ glass dish.

Sauté the onion and pepper in olive oil for a few minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Add the chorizo and sauté a few minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and herbs and spices. Let simmer, stirring occasionally and crushing the tomatoes, until it makes a thick sauce.

In a bowl, mix the ricotta, eggs, and parsley+garlic.

Bottom layer is a thin layer of au gratin potatoes: spread out the potatoes to cover the bottom of the prepared dish. Sprinkle with your choice of seasoning (I used the pizza seasoning). Sprinkle with 2 ounces of the shredded swiss/gruyere/emmentaler and the parmesan. Drizzle the heavy cream over the top.

Add a layer of one third of the tomato-meat mixture.

Repeat twice:

  • Layer of half the zucchini slices
  • Layer of half the ricotta mixture
  • Layer of half the remaining tomato-meat mixture
  • Layer of half the mozzarella slices

Sprinkle the top with the remaining shredded swiss/gruyere/emmentaler.

In the pan used for the tomato mixture (no need to wash first), melt the butter. Stir the panko crumbs in the melted butter so that they absorb the butter and any tomato sauce left behind in the pan. Sprinkle over the top of the lasagna.

Bake at 375F for 30 minutes.

Pear-topped carrot cake

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Ingredients (links are to the ones I used, and unless noted, I don’t get any payment)

Topping:
1-2 pears, thinly sliced (peeling is optional)
2 tbsp golden syrup (or honey)
1 tsp ghee oil (or melted butter)
a few dashes of powdered ginger
optional: 1 tbsp sweet ginger bits

Wet ingredients:
1 1/2 cups grated carrots (can also include some grated parsnips for a bit of zing)
1/4 cup raisins and 1/4 cup craisins soaked in 1/4 cup rum (zap in microwave for 30 sec for instant plumping)
3 eggs
1/4 cup ghee oil (or melted butter, coconut oil, or light olive oil) (I found the ghee oil at a reduced price at Imperfect Foods — using this link will give you and me both $10 off)
1/4 cup golden syrup (or honey)
1 tsp double-strength vanilla
optional: 1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Dry ingredients:
1 3/4 cups almond flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground mace (or nutmeg)
1 tsp sodium-free baking powder

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Line a 9″ round cake pan with greased parchment paper (I used a bit of ghee)
  3. For the topping: Spread the 2 tbsp golden syrup on the bottom of the prepared cake pan. Arrange the pear slices over the golden syrup in whatever pattern you like (you can add a few thin slices of carrot if you want to add color to your design). Sprinkle the pears with ghee. Sprinkle powdered ginger and ginger bits.
  4. Put pan in 400F oven for 10 minutes or until the pears are starting to get golden. Remove from oven and let cool while you prepare the rest of the cake.
  5. Reduce oven to 325F.
  6. Mix together all the dry ingredients.
  7. Mix together all the wet ingredients.
  8. Mix the wet mixture into the dry mixture. The batter will be like a soft cookie dough, not a pourable cake batter.
  9. Carefully plop and spread the batter into the pan, being careful to disturb your pear pattern as little as possible.
  10. Bake at 325F for 30 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes.
  12. Turn cake over onto serving platter and peel off the parchment paper carefully to maintain your pear pattern. If any pear slices stick to the paper, just peel them off and put them back where they came from. Cool completely.

“There’s Green Stuff in the Fridge” Callaloo Soup

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I had a bunch of leftover greens in my fridge: a huge bunch of broccoli rabe and a smaller, but still substantial, amount of chopped kale. I was wondering what I could do with them before I forgot about them and they turned into a green liquid mush at the bottom of my vegetable drawer. Then it came to me: Callaloo!

Callaloo is a soup popular in the Caribbean, usually made with the leaves of the plant also called callaloo (or amaranth), but in Martinique at least, it’s common to substitute whatever leafy greens (especially dark greens like spinach and kale). My broccoli rabe and kale would be perfect for this.

Callaloo soup also usually includes okra (or as they are called in French, gombos — whence the Cajun “Gumbo”). The okra gives Callaloo its smooth, silky texture and provides some thickness to the broth. I did not have any okra. So I rooted around the pantry and found the perfect substitute: canned chickpeas, with their aquafaba — that slimy nutritious liquid that vegans prize as a replacement for egg whites.

Callaloo is also usually made with a big old meaty hambone, but that adds too much sodium (and besides, I didn’t have any on hand), so I diced up a few slices of low sodium turkey bacon.

So I went to work on it and came up with this lovely low sodium and very nutritious soup, with stuff I had on hand in the kitchen. And it tasted really good too.

Throw all of these ingredients into the Instapot (on Sauté), or into a pressure cooker, or large soup pot at medium-high heat. By the time the last ingredient goes in, the broth should be boiling. Everything is going in the blender at the end, so nothing needs to be chopped or sliced super thin — big chunks are fine for everything except the celery. Stir well after each addition.

  • 4 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (use vegetable broth for a vegan version)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 whole (uncut!) scotch bonnet peppers or habaneros
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 shallots, chopped or sliced (red onion can be substituted, or 3 tbsp of Penzey’s air-dried Shallots, which I always keep on hand)
  • 2-3 slices of low-sodium turkey bacon (omit or replace with some textured vegetable protein for a vegan version)
  • 1 can of chickpeas, including the liquid
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour or tapioca flour, diluted in enough water to make a liquid paste (optional)
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup of sliced celery (you want these to be fairly thin to avoid strands of fiber)
  • 4 to 6 cups of chopped dark leafy greens (broccoli rabe, kale, spinach, collard greens, or even callaloo if you’re lucky enough to find it in an international market)

Cover the pot or Instapot. For the Instapot, set it to pressure cooking at high for 15 minutes. For a regular soup pot, lower the heat to simmer and let it cook for an hour.

Remove the bay leaves and hot peppers.

Using an immersion blender or a food processor, process the soup well. It shouldn’t be completely liquid: there will be small chunks of vegetables and bacon that provide texture to the soup.

The hot peppers kept whole will provide a nice flavor but not a lot of spicy heat to the soup. Give it a taste. If you like a spicy soup, add half of one of the peppers and process  some more. Like it very spicy? Keep adding a half pepper at a time and taste until it’s perfect for you. (I used one of the peppers and it was perfect for me and my taste-tester: distinctly zingy without being fiery.

If desired, you can add a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt to your bowl of soup for an even creamier soup.