Monday, August 17, 2009

Pesto Lasagna Pinwheels

For Aspen's first night in town, I decided to make something I knew she would like, which basically means I had to pick something carbalicious. I also knew that it should somehow involve squash so our kitchen and fridge doesn't get overrun by it. In addition to boatloads of squash, however, our basil is going crazy in the backyard. The back of our house faces south and gets direct sun just about the entire day, which turns out to be terrible for having an actual yard but really great for sun-loving plants. Go figure. I do use the basil for garnish and in some salads during the summer, but, for the most part, basil means pesto (which freezes incredibly well if you need to get a winter fix).

Around these parts, Josh is usually the lasagna guy since it seems like a lot of work to me and I wanted to do something different. So I decided on a pest lasagna that is rolled instead of layered. Honestly, it looks awesome and it tastes awesome, but trying to eat it is not so awesome. You could totally impress a date with your cooking skills (and with pretty minimal effort), but, once you serve it, you will most certainly undo that impression by looking like you just learned how to use a fork (not mention the nasty little habit pesto has of getting stuck in the corners of your teeth). So, be forewarned.

The good news is that 13 year olds love it. Her verdict?: "Mmmm..Good, very good. You should put this on the blog." Score one for vegan goodness.
(inspired by Vegandad's Ravioli with Pesto Cream)

12 lasagna noodles (cooked in salted water)

1 lb. extra firm tofu
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of pureed, roasted garlic
Handful of basil leaves torn into to tiny pieces
Salt, to taste

Crumble tofu by hand until it is the consistency of ricotta. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and set aside.

1 zucchini (sliced 1/8 inch wide, length-wise w/ a mandolin)
1 crookneck squash (sliced 1/8 inch wide, length-wise w/ a mandolin)
Oil for frying
Salt, pepper, and paprika, to taste

Heat oil over medium high heat. Lay as many squash as possible in the pan. Sprinkle squash with salt, pepper, and paprika. Cook until pliable (you'll have to be able to roll the squash). Remove from heat and let cool.

3 cups basil leaves
1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight and drained
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. pureed, roasted garlic
1-2 tbsp. lemon juice
salt, to taste
water to thin out as needed (or more oil)

Combine all ingredients in food processor. Process.

Pesto Pasta Pinwheels:

Rinse noodles to separate if needed. Lay out one noodle at a time. Spread a thin layer of ricotta the entire length of the noodle. Line up one piece of squash with one end of the noodle and carefully roll them into a wheel. Even though the squash is shorter, you'll want to start in the same place or the squash won't get rolled up entirely within the noodle. Place each of the rolls in a baking pan. When all twelve are rolled, add a small amount of water to the pan and bake in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cover with pesto. You can heat up the pesto separately or put in on before the boking, but it will darken depending on the method.


Ondine said...

That sounds really good. I make pesto with cashews also but I have never soaked them beforehand. What's the reason--are they smoother?

veganboyjosh said...

That picture totall doesn't do them justice. They're so pretty. Tricky eating aside they taste damn good. I'd wager they actually give my lasagna a run for its money.