Vegan Lasagna

This lasagna is super easy to make and vegan!

Ingredients:

 

Instructions:

  1. The vegan mozzarella can be made ahead of time. If you feel it is too thick to work with, you can heat it up and add a splash of water to it to be the consistency you want.
  2. Take 1/2 of the firm tofu and crumble it with your hands or a fork. Add in approx. 1/4 cup of the Holy Homous and stir to combine.
  3. If the spinach is still frozen, place in a microwaveable bowl, add 1 tbsp of water and microwave for 5 mins. This will remove most of the water from being frozen.
  4. Combine the tofu mixture with the spinach and mix evenly.
  5. Dice up the white onion and heat up a frying pan to High to Medium heat. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Sauté the onion until it is translucent.
  6. Add in the plant based ground and break up into smaller pieces. Continue to cook until it begins to brown.
  7. While frying up the plant based ground, heat up a pot of water and boil the noodles per the directions on the package.
  8. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F
  9. Now to layer your lasagna:
    • In a casserole dish, add approx. 1 cup of the tomato sauce to the bottom of the dish.
    • When the noodles are done, add 3 sheets of lasagna on top of the sauce.
    • Then add a layer of the plant based ground and sprinkle a bit of parmesan on top of it.
    • Add another 3 sheets of lasagna pasta.
    • Then layer on the tofu/spinach combination.
    • Add another 3 sheets of lasagna pasta.
    • Then dollop the mozzarella on top of it. I usually figure out how many pieces of lasagna there is and dollop the mozzarella accordingly for each piece.
    • Sprinkle with parmesan and top with basil
  10. Cover the lasagna with tin foil and place in oven for 20 mins.
  11. Optional: After 20 mins is up, remove tinfoil and broil for 5-10 mins to brown the cheese (keep an eye on it as you don’t want it to burn.)
  12. Serve and enjoy!

Lamb Bolgonese

Bolgonese: known in Italian as ragù alla bolognese, is a meat-based sauce originating from Bologna, Italy. (Wikipedia)

This lamb bolgonese recipe is easy to make if you have time for a bit of prep work.  It requires a few simple ingredients to create a mouth watering dish in the end.  The key to this dish is to not over complicate things by adding too many ingredients.

Ingredients

1/4 cup pancetta – finely chopped
a couple tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper
1-2 large carrot – finely diced
1-2 ribs of celery – finely diced
1 yellow onion – finely diced or you can use 2 shallots and 1/2 a yellow onion if you want to mix it up a bit
2-3 cloves of garlic – finely diced
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary – finely chopped
a bit of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon tomato paste
a pound of ground lamb
1 cup red wine
Parmesan
Parsley

Heat the olive oil over medium heat and fry the pancetta until it turns brown.  Add in the carrot, celery and onion and season with salt and pepper.  Allow enough time for the vegetables to sweat, approximately 5-10 mins.  Stir in the garlic and fry for another 1-2 mins.  Add in the lamb and fry until brown.  Stir in the tomato paste and add the cup of red wine.  Stir the mixture and reduce the sauce over low to medium heat.  You want to aim for a dry sauce (ie. little liquid left).

While the sauce is reducing, cook your favorite pasta according to the directions on the package (spaghetti or tagliatelle pasta works well with this sauce).  Once the sauce is reduced and the pasta is cooked, toss to combine.  You can garnish it with Parmesan cheese and parsley.  Enjoy!

Simple Yet Tasty Spaghetti Sauce

San Marzano Tomatoesa variety of plum tomatoes, are considered by many chefs to be the best paste tomatoes in the world. (Wikipedia)

San Marzano tomato

San Marzano tomato

The key to a delicious spaghetti sauce is keeping it simple and using the correct type of tomatoes.  I’ve tried different types of tomatoes but the best tomatoes I recommend are san marzano tomatoes.  These types of tomatoes have thinner skins versus other tomatoes with thicker flesh and fewer seeds.  On it’s own these tomatoes have a stronger taste, sweeter and less acidic, perfect basis for a spaghetti sauce.

Ingredients

2 thin slices of pancetta (if you want a vegetarian version feel free to omit this as it will still be tasty)
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 can of San Marzano tomatoes
fresh parmesean
fresh mozzarella
fresh basil leaves

Chop the pancetta into small pieces and fry over medium to high heat.  While it is cooking, mince the garlic.  Add it to the pan without draining any of the fat.  If you feel there is too much fat or want a healthier version by all means, drain the fat prior to adding the garlic or skip completely as it will still taste good.  Stir the mixture approximately 2-3 minutes.  Slowly add the San Marzano tomatoes including the liquid being careful not to splatter yourself.  Mash the tomatoes in the pan and cook the sauce over medium to high heat until the sauce is reduced by two thirds – you want to aim for a dry sauce.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Cook spaghetti noodles according to the package (unless you feel motivated to make fresh pasta) and toss with the sauce.  Plate the spaghetti, sprinkle shredded Parmesan over the dish and slices of fresh mozzarella.  Add torn basil leaves for garnish.  If you want to kick it up a notch, drizzle a bit of basil oil over the dish and enjoy.

Simon’s Fine Food Cooking Class – Irresistable Italian

gnocchi [ˈnɒki or ˈnjɒki]: (in Italian cooking) Small dumplings made from potato, semolina, or flour, usually served with a sauce (Wikipedia)

Gnocchi & Chicken

Leftover gnocchi and chicken in a white wine pesto sauce

I love cooking. I am always looking for ways to improve my cooking and increase my repertoire. My dream would be to open up a small restaurant using quality ingredients prepared simply so when John bought me a cooking class with Simon Reynolds of Simon Fine Foods here in Saskatoon I couldn’t wait.

Simon is a trained chef with over 20 years of experience, working in many parts of the world like the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. He once owned Simon’s British Flavors here in town and now teaches cooking classes, as well as caters and provides private chef services. He offers a number of different classes ranging from $50-60 that can be viewed here. The class I signed up for was Irresistable Italian with a menu consisting of: potato and nutmeg Gnocchi, mushroom and shallot cream sauce, tomato salad with balsamic and pesto dressing, parmesan and herb tray focaccia, and orange and rasberry biscotti. Yum!

As this was my first cooking class I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  I’ve seen shows on television where wannabe chefs stand around a table taking notes while the instructor goes through the process. I packed the required items of a chopping board, knife and small containers for leftovers as well as a second knife, pen and notebook just incase I needed to take notes (which I ended up not needing). The class ran approx. 2 hours with time afterwards to enjoy our creations and take home leftovers.

Parmesan and herb tray focaccia

Parmesan and herb tray focaccia

Simon’s Fine Foods is easy to find – it’s located in the Avalon strip mall and his signage is easy to spot. I arrived 10 minutes early as suggested on his site only to find out that I was the last to arrive (hopefully I wasn’t late as the site mentioned classes starting at 6:30). The place was exactly how I pictured it would be. It was clean and organized, with cooking shelves against the front and left wall, 2 stainless steel counters in the center, sinks against the right wall and an oven and stove at the back. Our class was smaller in size – we initially sat around a table as Simon introduced himself (or everyone was just sitting there waiting for me to arrive :S). We proceeded to put on the provided cloth aprons and went to the counters to start our class.

Cranberry and Orange Biscotti

Cranberry and Orange Biscotti

The class was very hands on, starting with each of us learning how to make gnocchi from scratch. Along the way, Simon would provide pointers and reasons why certain techniques were used. He was open to answering any questions we had, even questions that may not have related to the theme of the class. As the class progressed we were assigned different tasks such as slicing and peeling different items. At one point I was assigned to make the biscotti which I’ve never made before and enjoyed doing so. I don’t want to go into the specifics of the class as I believe Simon’s classes are worth signing up for and experiencing things first hand. We finished the class on time and was able to sit down and enjoy our creations. I wish I had a picture of our finished creations but you’ll have to make due with pictures of the leftover focaccia, gnocchi and biscotti I took home. I would definitely recommend signing up for one of Simon’s classes as he is knowledgeable and personable.