Although I’m not dairy intolerant, lately I’ve been trying to cut back on dairy for various reasons, and so I’ve been thinking about dairy substitutes. Most dairy free, gluten free manufactured cheeses are pretty gross, and so I am usually more inclined to try creative vegan recipes for “uncheese” when looking for a cheese substitute. I’ve tried tofu based “cheeses”, almond or cashew based “cheeses”, and recipes that rely on nutritional yeast. They can sometimes be quite good, and tofu ricotta can come close to the “real” thing. But, what if you’re soy intolerant or just don’t want to eat soy every day? Lately I’ve been interested in Raw Foods, not because I necessarily find cold, uncooked food that enticing, but because I think they take some really novel approaches with their ingredients and preparation methods. The other day I was thinking about a substitute for ricotta and found this recipe for a pine nut based ricotta “cheese” ala Raw Food, and decided to whip some up. I didn’t use it right away, but last night I was about to use it on some brown rice pasta when I remembered this homemade bean flour pasta I had in the freezer. Hmmm… I was inspired, suddenly, to throw together some pine nut ricotta lasagna! I boiled the pasta, layered it with pasta sauce (regrettably green olive sauce, but what can ya do), spinach, and pine nut ricotta. I put it in the oven for half an hour and then served myself up some uber decadent, deliciously dairy free but yet magically cheesy lasagna. The homemade lasagna noodles didn’t hurt either, although next time I would ideally use egg free pasta. (Ener-g foods white rice lasagna would be good, as far as premade pasta goes.) My verdict? Probably the “cheesiest” dairy free lasagna I’ve ever had. It was plate licking good. I know pine nuts are expensive, so in the future I may try mixing cashews or almonds in with the pine nuts- but since I had a large bag from Costco, I went for the full pignoli experience. If you’ve been dying for cheesy Italian yumminess and just happen to have some pine nuts lurking in the wings, you should definitely give this recipe a try! And if you’re feeling REALLY crazy, you could even try the Raw Food Version in the above link or check out the recipes in the critically acclaimed book, Raw Food, Real World.
Lemon Pignoli Ricotta Spinach Lasagna
12 homemade or store bought GF lasagna noodles
1 cup Pasta Sauce
1 cup (or to taste) frozen spinach leaves, defrosted and patted dry
Preheat oven to 375.
Boil lasagna noodles until al dente. Prepare ingredients.
Assemble lasagna in layers of pasta sauce, pasta, “ricotta”, and some spinach. Repeat. End with ricotta.
Bake for 30 minutes or until “ricotta” is slightly brown and bubbly.
I used homemade bean flour lasagna noodles a la Bette Hagman, but I think a more neutral, egg free lasagna would be better- try white rice/tapioca starch.
This satisfies any cheese craving, with none of the cheese or soy for those who are dairy and/or soy intolerant. It is also really yummy!