Thursday, November 20, 2008


Vegan roasted vegetable lasagna.

Why vegan? We had a client request a vegan dinner party because one of the guests was--you guessed it--a vegan. We wondered why the host insisted on subjecting his entire guest list to vegan food when just one of them professed to eat no animal products. In our book, you feed everyone else the usual way and make one vegan plate. But this particular host did not want the vegan to feel singled out. Thus, vegan lasagna.

It was preceeded by a lovely fall salad and served with our own roasted sweet potatoes with caramelized shallots. Dessert was pears poached in a Gewurztraminer syrup. A lovely meal, with a couple of servings of lasagna left over.

I make this very much the same way as our normal roasted vegetable lasagna except no cheese. Peel two medium eggplant and slice lengthwise into 1/4-inch thicknesses. Cut about four zucchini and four summer squash the same way. Cut two red onions into 1/2 rings. Spread everything on baking sheets, brush everything with extra-virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast until the vegetables are bubbling and just beginning to brown. No doubt you will need to do this in batches.

Then simply spread a thin layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of a Pyrex baking dish (or something similar), cover with lasagna noodles (my wife cooked eggless noodles for this, otherwise I use no-boil noodles) and start layering the vegetables (chop the onion rounds into pieces) and repeat until you've filled the pan. We also inserted some store-bought roasted red peppers. Over each layer, scatter some chopped fresh marjoram or basil. Marjoram gives the lasagna an assertive, densely herbacious flavor that I particularly like.

My fear was that without the cheese the lasagna would just fall apart before it got to the plates. But somehow it holds together. And it is exceptionally delicious--even reheated several days later for breakfast.


Anonymous said...

This looks and sounds great and I am not a vegan.

I found the following comments interesting,
"We wondered why the host insisted on subjecting his entire guest list to vegan food when just one of them professed to eat no animal products."

Was the host really subjecting the entire party to such a horrible dinning experience. The meal served sounded great. Can omnivores not occasionally have a vegan meal without feeling deprived? I have eaten many omnivore meals that I thought were lacking.

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

First off, this sounds really, really good. I miss zucchini and summer squash already, which is hard to believe with the sheer number of them we consumed this summer - but now that they are gone, well I miss them.

Now, I have to admit, I am a dairy-free vegetarian (a vegetarian who is allergic to dairy, I still eat eggs), but I do not EVER expect people to cater to me because of my choice in dietary needs (aside from the dairy, that I can't help). I usually offer to bring my own dish so that nobody has to make something special. I definitely would not subject everyone to vegan food because of my choices. Usually when going out to eat, I look for one of those restaurants that works for everybody - one that has a few vegetarian options, but also meat and such for the others. Then again, I am not an ethical vegetarian, I eat the way I do for environmental reason, so I am not offended my meat eating as some others are. I understand wanting to keep someone from feeling alienated, but chances are, as a vegan, the person is probably used to being served something different than everyone else. Anyway, just my two sense.

Ed Bruske said...

Anon, first, please identify yourself when posting comments. Normally I do not publish anonymous comments, but sometimes they are too good to just trash. Mea culpa! The comments about veganism are a bit snarky, but intentionally so. We like humor at The Slow Cook, even sarcasm. In fact, we make no effort at all to be politically corrrect -- except when we do. In general, my wife and I both feel that humans were built to eat anything and everything and with so many hungry humans in the world, strict veganism is a bit of a conceit. That said, and although we initially bristled at this client's request for a vegan meal, we eventually took it on as a challenge. And you are right: it is possible to make a wonderful vegan meal. It's just not something we would want to do all the time.

Jennifer, thanks so much for adding your perspective here. I have an aunt who is glucose intolerant, a wife who suffers Type I diabetes and I myself am battling with high blood pressure. So we appreciate the special dietary requirements. In fact, personal chef-ing is kinda centered on catering to people with special dietary requests.