Friday, October 28, 2011

Mushroom Spinach Lasagna for Two with Brazil Nut Ricotta

Well wouldn't you know that the day I curse my neighborhood grocery store for not having the specific ingredient I needed, my food turned out better with the alternate choice.
I originally intended this ricotta to be Macadamia Nut based, but when I saw that there was not one single nut sitting in the bulk bin, I shook my fist furiously and stopped to think about my next move. Pine nuts are boring and out of the question financially and no other nut caught my eye until I zoomed in on brazil nuts. Normally these all too gigantic nuts are my most (and only) hated nut. It's just too much nut! Maybe if they were smaller I would enjoy them, but alas they are gargantuan and I always pick them out of my mixed nut selection.
That being said I have entirely no idea why I decided to go with them as my ricotta base. I tend to get annoyed when I come across foods I don't like. I hate limiting my options! So hoping they would be more delicious ground up, I grabbed a bag and hoped for the best.
And the best it was indeed! This vegan version of ricotta cheese is by far my favorite version I have made! Who would have thought that my favorite ricotta would come from my most hated nut? This is exactly why I force myself to try things I dislike every so often, I am bound to find a way to prepare it that I enjoy. Long live these giant nuts!

Hearty cremini mushrooms and spinach layered between homemade brazil nut ricotta and tomato basil sauce. Lasagna for two!

Brazil Nut Ricotta
1 heaping cup raw brazil nuts
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
pinch salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2-3 tbl water

Combine all of the ingredients except the water in a food processor and turn on for 3-4 minutes. Slowly stream in water until you reach your desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Mushroom Spinach Lasagna for Two
3 tbl extra virgin olive oil
8 oz cremini mushrooms, small dice
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbl chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tbl fresh lemon juice
sea salt
1 heaping cup baby spinach leaves, roughly torn
1 cup marinara sauce
Brazil Nut Ricotta
1/2 box whole wheat lasagna noodles, cooked according to package instructions
3 tbl chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
1-small loaf pan or disposable 8'x3' loaf pan

Preheat the oven to 350.
Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over high heat until almost smoking. Add the mushrooms and toss. Saute over high heat for 5-7 minutes until the mushrooms are golden brown. Season with red pepper flakes, pepper, rosemary and lemon juice. Cook 3 minutes more. Add the salt and spinach leaves and toss to wilt the leaves.
Ladle a couple spoonfuls in the bottom of your loaf pan and spread evenly. Line the bottom with noodles, cutting the noodles to fit so they don't overlap. Spoon half of the ricotta mixture in and spread to cover. Top with a layer of noodles. Spoon half of the mushroom mixture and top with more noodles. Repeat this one more time until all of the ricotta and mushroom is gone.
Top the final layer with noodles and pour the marinara sauce over top.
Bake for 35 minutes. Let rest a bit for cleaner slices when cutting. Garnish with parsley.

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