Recipe: Creamy Basil Vegan Lasagna

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I was craving lasagna, but rather then in its non-nutritious original form, I wanted it to be filled with nutritious veggies, hearty mushrooms, and a dairy-free creamy “ricotta”. I needed a big punch of flavor to marinate through each layer, so I flavored my cashew cheese with an abundance of fresh basil and herbs from the garden, a little zing from the juice of a lemon, a clove of garlic for that italian bite,  and a touch of olive oil for creaminess. Don’t be overwhelmed by the few steps in this recipe. If you start the herbed cashew cheese one day, the veggies another and the assembly another, it will be quite easy and you will be eating delicious vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free lasagna in no time!

Basil Herb Cashew Cheese

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
Add any herbs you like – I used rosemary (2 sprigs) , parsley (handful) thyme (2-3 sprigs) & chives (handful)
juice from one lemon
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1/4 water


Directions:
Blend until creamy. Adjust seasoning to taste. You can add more water to get your consistency to a desired creaminess. Refrigerate until ready to assemble lasagna.
Creamy Basil Vegan Lasagna 
Ingredients:

one package of gluten free lasagna noodles, cook according to package
jar of your favorite tomato sauce
2 pints of baby bella mushrooms
1 head of Red Swiss Chard
1 garlic clove, minced
1-2 zucchini, sliced thin lengthwise 
Basil Herb Cashew Cheese (recipe above)
olive oil for sautéing
fresh basil 

Directions:
1. Start by cleaning your mushrooms and slice them however you would like. 
2. Heat a little olive oil in a sauté pan and throw in all your mushrooms. Saute until brown and tender. Remove from pan and place in separate container/bowl until ready to assemble. 
3. Wash and cut up your swiss chard. I like to remove most of the stems because this is where they are most bitter. 
4. Mince your clove of garlic.
5. Add a touch more olive oil to the pan you used to cook the mushrooms. Then add the garlic and saute until fragrant (2-3 minutes), carefully watching not to burn. 
6. Add the swiss chard to the pan. Saute, stirring every few minutes until the chard is wilted, about 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper, stir and set aside or refrigerate until assembly.
7. Thinly slice your zucchini lengthwise. I used a mandoline for easy slicing and fast results! Set aside. 
8. Now it’s time to assemble!
Grab your jar of sauce and pour enough to lightly coat the bottom of a casserole dish. 
Layer your lasagna noodles on top of the sauce. 
Then with a rubber spatula, spread evenly a layer of basil herb cashew cheese
Then layer your zucchini slices.
Next sprinkle your garlicky swiss chard all over.
Then it’s time for your mushrooms and a sprinkle of fresh basil. Cover with sauce.
Repeat this process until you reach the top of your casserole dish!
When you finish your last layer, dab little basil herb cashew cheese dots  so each serving gets a little extra treat of flavor.  
Cover with foil to prevent burning.
Bake at 400 degrees until bubbly – about 30- 45 minutes. 
enjoy!

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