my earliest memories of cooking a lasagna by myself are when i was a kid, and my mom was getting her master’s degree on top of being a full time teacher. thursdays she would go to class all night and i often would be in charge of putting dinner together. i would pull the lasagna out of the freezer early enough so it could defrost in time to go in the oven. and then i’d put the lasagna in the oven. and later, we’d eat it.
this. is. not. that. lasagna.
this lasagna is a labor of love. it involves making seitan, sauce, and noodles. all from scratch. all three are protracted processes with down times and intense times. but all three are fun and taste much much better when homemade, compared to store-bought.
this time around it took ~4 hours in the kitchen, but with cook time was more like 6 hrs. that’s a lot of time to spend in the kitchen in one sitting [although this weekend i needed that]. but i get to use 4 of my favorite kitchen gadgets. including my newest one, which is mechanical.
and it’s totally a work in progress. i’ve only done all 3 parts together from scratch twice [this was the second time]. i’ve done sauce and seitan enough times that i’ve got those recipes [generally] down, but noodles are still newish to me [i think this is only 5th time]. and i’m still figuring out how all 3 together [and the cheese!] make a good lasagna. so take the recipe with a grain of salt. but i think it’s a damn good start.
i’m going to break the recipe into the component parts. i didn’t make it quite in this order, though.
recipe makes enough for 2 lasagnas.
- 4 1/2 c. flour
- 6 eggs
- 1 t. salt
- 6 T water (room temp)
- combine everything in food processor, pulse until balled up
- knead until uniform, set aside 30 min
- roll out into sheets until desired thickness. cut immediately into desired shape upon rolling a sheet out…for a 9×13 pan, i cut 4×13 strips. lightly flour, set aside to dry for at least 10 min.
- bring enough salted water to cook 2-3 noodles at a time to an intense boil. add noodles, cook 60-90 sec, plunge immediately into cool water for 5 sec. [you can use a pair of metal tongs for this, it's ok to rip the strips, no one will see them...]
- use immediately
seriously about that last one, you don’t want to cook noodles then leave them sit around. even if you’re going to use them in 5 minutes, still cover them (an upside-down cookie sheet works well). and generally you don’t want to cook any noodles you won’t use right away. so if you’re only making one lasagna, either 1/2 the recipe or cut and dry all the noodles, but only cook enough for 1. you can freeze uncooked noodles. they keep pretty well for a few weeks. and you can cut them into smaller strips before you freeze them…
as you can tell, i have a pasta press [thanks mom and dad!]. rolling out lasagna with a rolling pin is…taxing, to say the least. the press makes it less taxing. and more fun. seriously, pasta making is cheap and fun and easy if you have a press. on my press, i rolled it to a 4.
- 1 1/2 c. wheat gluten flour
- 1/8 c. nutritional yeast
- 1 T ground flax
- 1T wheat germ
- 1 t garlic powder
- 2 t chili powder
- 1 c. veg broth
- 1/8 c. soy sauce
- 2 T tomato paste
- 1 T olive oil
- combine all dry ingredients, mix
- mix wet ingredients separately
- incorporate wet into dry, mix well with hands, knead for 2 min, let rest for 10 min.
- prep simmering broth: 5 c. water, 5 c. veg broth, 1 c. soy sauce, 1 T lemon juice, herbs/spices
- cut seitan into a few pieces [use a serrated knife]…i usually do 3 – 6 pieces. plunk into broth
- bring up to a rolling boil, reduce heat to simmer, cook for an hour or until desired firmness. let cool in broth for at least 30 min.
- cut seitan to desired size. brown it [dry cook it to remove the rest of the water and season it]: heat skilled/pan with no oil, add seitan, constantly stir to prevent burning, toss with seasonings [italian seasonings, salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic, mustard, nutritional yeast]. cook to desired dryness. finish with a bit of olive oil [enough to coat every piece thinly...not enough to be standing], toss to even, cook for ~1 min. remove from heat
to me, seitan is an optimal protein source for lots of dishes. certainly pasta dishes. homemade seitan has a very good texture for red pasta sauces, either cut into chunks [as i did here] or ground. it has a much better texture than tofu, for sure. but seitan, by itself, is also very very bland. i mean, it’s just flour, but without the starch…not exactly flavorful. hence all of the seasonings and additives to the recipe. and definitely hence the browning. this is a key step to making delicious seitan…the post-simmering seasoning/cook.
- 1 carrot
- 2 small crowns of broccoli [including the stems!]
- 2 green bell peppers
- 1 white onion
- a bunch of mushrooms [including stems!]
- 5 scallions
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 yellow squash
- 1 zucchini squash
- 4 leaves, radish greens [why not?]
- 15 leaves fresh basil
- olive oil
- lemon juice
- italian herbs
those are the veggies i used for this recipe. i usually take a “gang’s all here” approach to pasta sauce. so whatever veggies i’m feeling like adding is what i’ll add. vegetables all have different good things for you, and by slow cooking everything, you can combine the flavors and textures really well. i love putting different stuff in pasta sauce. if you bake it, then slow cook it, it’s friggen awesome.
- 10 roma tomatoes
- 15 cherry tomatoes
- 5 leaves fresh basil
- olive oil
- lemon juice
- 8 oz tomato paste
- preheat oven 425 F
- cut up veggies to modest size [1/4 - 1/2 in], toss with olive oil, dress with lemon juice and herbs, put in a baking dish.
- cut up tomatoes [romas into 1/2 - 1/2 in, cherries in 1/2], toss with olive oil, dress with lemon juice and basil, put in a different baking dish.
- put both in the oven, roast for 1 – 1/2 hr. you want them a bit brown, but not too burnt. check/stir every 20-30 mins.
- remove both from oven, add to crock pot, add tomato paste, bring to a boil. reduce to simmer.
- cook for an hour or more, adding water as necessary to maintain desired thickness. taste regularly, add seasonings as necessary.
- homogenize with immersion blender.
- 32 oz ricotta
- 2 c. mozz
- 1 1/2 c. parm
- handful fresh parsley
- 1/4 t salt
- 1/4 t pepper
- 2 eggs
- combine all ricotta, 1 1/2 c mozz, 1 c parm, eggs, salt, pepper, parsley.
- set aside rest of mozz, parm together.
- preheat oven to 350 F
- combine ~4 c. of the sauce and most of the seitan
- layer into a 9 x 13 pan:
- 1 1/2 c. sauce
- 1 layer noodles [if doing 4 in wide, 2 is good for a 9 x 13]
- 2 1/2 c. cheese mix
- 1 1/2 c. sauce
- 1 layer noodles
- rest of cheese mix
- 1 layer noodles
- rest of sauce
- baked for 40 min covered
- uncover, add rest of cheeses, sprinkle with nutritional yeast, bake 10 more min
- let sit for 15 min before cutting.