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I’m a sucker for a shiny penny.

A recent trip to my local supermarket left me stupefied as I stumbled upon brown rice lasagna noodles They were on sale for $1.99 a box; a manager’s special.

Manager’s special, I think we can surmise, is code for let’s get rid of this product ASAP!

My guess is that they were trying to unload their supply of this starchy carbohydrate because Spring has sprung in New England and space would be needed for a more appropriate seasonal product.

As you read this, keep two things in mind:
1) I don’t care for brown rice noodles (though I love brown rice).
2) I’m not easily swayed by much of anything, except when it comes to food and sales. Put them together and you may have my kryptonite.

With that glistening “carrot” of a manager’s special dangling in front of me, I’d snatched one box faster than you can say April (reference is to the giraffe, for any rock dwellers out there).

Once home, my intention was to make this dish as quick and as easy as possible. I had recently watched a Youtube clip of Emeril Lagasse making Crock-Pot lasagna on GMA. He made it look effortless and that appealed to me. Crock-Pot it was!

I needed to soak the cashews, used for the filling, overnight. Some suggest soaking as little as 2-4 hours but I prefer a longer bath time. That meant that I would have to wait until the following day to put this dish together. I didn’t see this as a setback but more of an opportunity. It gave me a chance to prepare the sauce and pesto a day ahead of time.

For the sauce, I used 2 cans of tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes (plum). That decision was based on two factors:
1) The amount of time I wanted to allot on the break down of the tomatoes, which is to say, not much.
2) A lack of fresh tomatoes. In New England, local farm fresh tomatoes don’t hit the shelves until August.
Whether you purchase canned or fresh, make an effort to get the best quality tomatoes. Some would suggest, in the canned version, that San Marzano fits that bill. You may have to experiment to find what you prefer.
Note: Below you will see a nutritional breakdown of this dish. You will notice a high sodium content. That is due to the canned tomatoes.

For the pesto lovers out there, you may want to double the amount indicated in this recipe. The pesto comes through in a subtle way which was my intention.

I wrote above that I am not a fan of brown rice noodles, but I bought them anyway. That’s what a radioactive element from the planet of Krypton will do to to a person! I have to admit, they were pretty darn good. I don’t know if I would have been able to tell that they were brown rice if I hadn’t purchased them myself.

I’ve made lasagna countless times and I have a completely different version posted here.  But, this was my first go-round in a Crock-Pot and I was pleased with the final product.

Enjoy!
Serves 6-8

VEGAN CROCK-POT LASAGNA

INGREDIENTS:
SAUCE:
2 28 oz cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 clove garlic, diced
1 tsp oregano, dried
1 tsp thyme, dried
1 onion, diced
1 bay leaf
½ c nutritional yeast
4 + basil leaves

PESTO:
1 c basil, packed (about 25 oz)
2 tbsp pine nuts
¼ c nutritional yeast
½ lemon, juice from
1 clove garlic, minced
1-1/2 tbsp water

CASHEW CREAM – THE FILLING:
2 c raw cashews
1 c nutritional yeast
1 lemon, juiced and a little zest
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 cup non-dairy milk (I use almond)
1 12oz pkg  brown rice lasagna noodles

DIRECTIONS:
Sauce:
Remove and crush tomatoes from can.
In a large pot combine all sauce ingredients (including the juice in the tomato cans) and simmer for one hour.  If sauce needs thickening, add 1-2 tbsp of tomato paste. Taste and add more basil if needed.  Set aside.
Pesto:
Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Adjust water as needed. Set aside.
Cashew Cream:
Soak raw cashews overnight, this makes them softer and thus easier to blend (also helps in digestibility). Blend together the ingredients in order presented. I have a Vitamix, but I think a food processor would work fine.

Putting it all together:
Cook noodles according to package instructions. Some brown rice noodles are of the no boil category and do not need to be pre-cooked.
Spread a thin layer of sauce to lightly coat the bottom of the crock pot.
Divide cream and pesto into quarters.
Layer as follows: lasagna noodles (break them, if necessary, to fit the pot), cashew cream, pesto, sauce.
Repeat each layer until you have used the last of the cream and pesto.
Top off with one more layer of noodles and sauce.
Cook in Crock-Pot for 4 hours.

Nutrition breakdown:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What type of tomato do you think is best to use in a red sauce? Please leave a comment…

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