Recently, I've become more intrigued by raw foods - as you can see from my raw beet apple carrot salad, raw corn avocado chowder, and raw zucchini noodles. I don't see myself converting to a fully raw food diet anytime soon, but I do enjoy making the occasional meal or dessert out of purely raw ingredients - I just feel so good about what I'm eating when it's all unprocessed, because I know I'm getting as many nutrients as possible!
But since a lot of raw food recipes still intimidate me a bit, as they often require ingredients I have never heard of, I don't make a lot of raw food meals for myself at home. So when I had the chance to try a raw zucchini lasagna at a vegetarian restaurant that I went to recently, I couldn't wait to order it! The dish was described as "A delicate vegetable stack topped with cashew cheese and raw tomato basil sauce on a bed of organic greens". And when it appeared in front of me (see picture below), I immediately started thinking of how I could recreate it myself at home!
As you can see from the picture of my version at the top of this post, I think my reproduction turned out pretty good! I have to say, it was more work than I would normally put into a meal, but it was also a lot of fun!
I was the most excited to make the cashew cheese - something I have been wanting to try for a while. That was probably my favourite component of the dish, although it didn't stand out that much once it was mixed in between all the layers of vegetables.
For the vegetables, I chose to use peeled carrots, beets and parsnips, in addition to the slices of zucchini. I really loved this combination, especially the sweetness of the raw beets. It also helped that all of the ingredients that I used (the vegetables, tomatoes and garlic) were fresh from the farmer's market.
So as long as you don't expect this to taste anything like real lasagna, and if you like eating raw vegetables as much as I do, then you will love this raw-zagna!
Raw Zucchini Lasagna
Inspired by the "Rawzagna" dish at Veg Out Restaurant
Note: These are the approximate amounts that I used for a large individual serving, but you can use whatever amounts of vegetables that you like!
about 1/2 a large zucchini
1/2 a carrot
1/2 a parsnip (or use more carrot)
1/2 a medium beet
cashew cheese (recipe below)
raw tomato sauce (recipe below)
Peel the green skin off the zucchini and discard. Using a knife or a vegetable peeler, slice into very thin, wide strips. You will want enough strips for 3 layers of lasagna.
Peel the skin off the carrot, parsnip and beet, then peel them into thin strips using a vegetable peeler. Aim for uniform lengths of all the vegetables.
To assemble the lasagna, start by laying a few slices of zucchini on a plate. Next, add a layer of the peeled carrot, parsnip and beet. Top with a few dollops of cashew cheese and a large spoonful of tomato sauce. Repeat for two more layers, ending with a generous amount of sauce on top.
Raw Cashew "Cheese"
Recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini
3/4 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup water
1 tsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp sea salt
Soak the cashews in a container filled with water for a few hours. Drain and place in a food processor or blender. Add 1/4 cup water and the rest of the ingredients. Process until mixture is fully blended.
Transfer to a container and let sit for at least 12 hours (the original recipe says 24 hours) before placing in the fridge.
Makes 3/4 cup (more than you will need for this recipe, but you can save the leftovers for up to 5 days for other uses)
Raw Tomato Sauce
Adapted from The Parsley Thief
1 lb tomatoes (I used about 3 medium tomatoes)
1 clove of garlic
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp of sliced fresh basil leaves
1/2 tbsp olive oil
freshly ground pepper
Chop the tomatoes and place in a blender.
Smash the garlic with the salt until it resembles a paste.
Add the garlic paste, basil, olive oil and some pepper to the blender.
Pulse the mixture in the blender a few times until it is roughly blended. Transfer to a container and let sit for about an hour before using.
**Stay tuned to see version #2 of my raw zucchini lasagna - reconstructed!**