Vegan Lasagna in a heat wave

My husband, Harrison, is baffled by the fact that I don’t check the weather regularly. He loves looking at the weather on his phone, watching storms come in on the doppler radar and even watching the Weather Channel.  I like to wake up, look outside and move on with the day.  I blame this on the fact that I grew up in Northern California and Harrison grew up in Seattle.  Our Bay Area weather just isn’t that exciting.  To me it is either raining or it’s not, no more data needed.  Every now in then my lack of interest in the weather comes back to bite me.  Wearing flip flops when it starts to rain an hour after I leave the house is a key problem.  The other issue is my decision to cook the wrong food for the weather.  Yesterday I planned to make a lasagna using my bolognese sauce.  Too bad it was 88 degrees out!  I ignored the weather and made a tasty vegan lasagna, but it was a sweaty endeavor that I wouldn’t choose to repeat.  Assuming it is below 80 degrees where you live try this vegan lasagna before the summertime weather kicks in!

Vegan Lasagna

This lasagna was very easy to put together as I used the “No Boil” lasagna noodles from Whole Foods, Vegan Bolognese I had in the freezer and an easy Truffled Cashew Cheese.   To start I sprayed a large 13×9 inch pan with canola oil.  (I used this lasagna pan)  I spread a cup of bolognese in the bottom of the pan and layered it with 4 of the No Boil noodles.

Vegan Lasagna Noodles

The only thing I had to make yesterday was the truffled cashew cheese from Dreena Burton.  Her recipe is fantastic and can be used for stuffed pastas like this or served as a spread for crackers and crudite.  I often bring it as a spread to parties and it always receives rave reviews.  I prepared the cheese quickly in my food processor and spread half of it on the first layer of noodles.

Vegan Lasagna with Truffled Cashew Cheese

On top of the cashew cheese I layered 1.5 cups of the bolognese.  Then I repeated the layers (noodles, remaining cashew cheese and another 1.5 cups of bolognese).  I added a final layer of noodles, the remaining sauce and topped the whole thing with 1.5 cups of Daiya mozzarella cheese.  I cooked the lasagna, covered in foil, in a 385 degree oven for 40 minutes.  After the initial cooking I took the foil off and bake it uncovered for another 10 minutes.  At that point I removed the lasagna from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

Vegan Lasagna in pan

I served the lasagna topped with minced parsley and a green salad.  The dinner was a hit with both Harrison and Trey.  It will also make great leftovers during the week.  The actual baking took awhile, but it was very quick and simple to assemble on a weeknight.  If you make my vegan bolognese be sure to double the recipe and freeze half.  It is fabulous in this lasagna…just check the weather before you put it on your weekly meal plan!

Vegan Lasagna

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Vegan Pizza Roll Ups

Packing a lunch everyday can become a drag, and packing a vegan lunchbox is no exception.  It seems like I am always inspired to pack interesting, creative lunches at the beginning of the school year.  By the time October rolls around I am packing boring sandwiches again.  This year I was determined to get out of that rut, and for the most part my plan has worked.  My main strategy has been to plan 1-2 creative meals that can be repeated during the week.  I especially like meals that can be frozen so I can use it a few times in one week and freeze the rest for another time.  One of Trey’s favorite meals this year has been Pizza Roll Ups, which he also calls pizza cinnamon rolls.

Vegan Pizza Roll Ups

These rolls were inspired by Cinnaholic, a vegan cinnamon roll shop in Berkeley.  We have been big fans of Cinnaholic ever since it opened.  The brilliant concept is to offer a variety of frostings and toppings to customize your own cinnamon roll.  If you are in the Bay Area it is a must stop.  You can also order rolls online.

Cinnaholic started offering pizza rolls occasionally a few years ago.  I tried one and thought it would be a great school lunch for Trey.  I did some research online and found a few non- vegan versions and then made my own.  They have been a big success.  Success to me means half of them don’t come home with the “I didn’t have time to eat those, Mom” excuse.  Trey eats 2 at lunch with a fruit and vegetable on the side.

To make the rolls buy fresh pizza dough at the grocery store or local pizzeria.  I usually buy mine at Whole Foods.  Let the dough rise in an oiled bowl on the counter for about an hour.  Next roll the dough out into a rectangle.  Top the dough with pizza sauce, Daiya cheese and vegan pepperoni (or whatever toppings your family likes).  Trey really loves the pepperoni since it looks like the pepperoni his buddies are eating.

Ready to rollOnce all of the toppings are on the pizza roll up the whole rectangle into a long log.  Then slice the log into 8-10 pieces (depending on how thick you want your pizza rolls).  Place the slices into an oiled baking dish.  Bake them at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, until the dough is golden brown.

Vegan Pizza RollsI make these about once per month.  I pack them for Trey twice the week I make them and freeze the remaining rolls. Several times during the month I will pull 2 rolls out of the freezer and pack them for another lunch.

I would love to hear anyone else strategy for packing a vegan lunch beyond the standard sunflower butter and jelly sandwich.  Please share your tips and strategies in the Comments below.

Farmers Market Trip

Every Saturday Trey and I head to the Farmers Market near our home.  The Farmers Market is a major component of my weekly shopping.  I find taking in all of the fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as freshly made breads and snacks, very inspiring for my week of making meals.

I am not someone who goes to the market and just buys what looks good.  If I did that I would come home with WAY too much food.  Everything looks good to me at the market!  I make a weekly meal plan keeping in mind what’s available at the Farmers Market.  My meal plan usually includes 4 specific dinners and basic ideas for lunches and breakfasts.  I then shop at Whole Foods, the Farmers Market and Trader Joes to buy all of my food for the week.

Danville Farmers Market

Trey comes with me on most Saturdays and it is a great way to inspire him to eat more fruits and vegetables. He loves trying samples at the different stands.  Fruits are always a favorite, but he finds vegetables that he likes as well.  I like that he has an understanding of food in its “raw” form, before preparation.  He also has an understanding that all food is not available all the time.  He knows that there is a strawberry season, a grape season etc.

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