Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Zucchini Lasagna with Tofu Ricotta and Basil Pistachio Pesto


Soy foods have always been a staple in Asian cuisine and have recently gained great popularity in the Western world due to its nutritional benefits. Soy is one of the few high quality plant proteins which also has a nice blend of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats - the good fats. A diet high in saturated fat (think animal products - cheese, meat, butter, etc) has been linked to the increased risk of developing breast cancer, among several other diseases.

To celebrate October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Soyfoods Council is hosting a recipe contest for the Recipe Redux members: "How To...Tofu".  Contrary to popular belief, this soy food can be tasty and is quite versatile in the kitchen. Bland in nature, tofu can be used as a vehicle to transport a wide array of flavors.



Many of us have had friends or family members who have endured all the disheartening aspects of breast cancer. In my family, it was my Mimi (grandmother), a tough yet warm Sicilian woman. As a young girl, I remember when the aroma of homemade tomato sauce, noodles and bread would fill her house in preparation for The best homemade lasagna. Her sauce would be cooking for hours as my temptation to taste it heightened all throughout the day. Each time I would steal a taste, dipping some bread into the big pot just to contain my excitement until dinner.

This tofu recipe was done with Mimi in mind. By using tofu instead of cheese, I was able to cut all saturated fat out, making it a fat friendlier version of lasagna. Also, by using zucchini slices in place of pasta, I was able add some vitamin A and extra fiber. Cooked for a couple of family members, they were quite impressed with how good the tofu ricotta tasted! Had I not mentioned earlier that it was tofu, I probably could have slipped it past them :) It was creamy and little on the thick side resembling true ricotta. Lots of roasted garlic was added which was my favorite part. It made me very happy.


Zucchini Lasagna with Tofu Ricotta and Pistachio-Basil Pesto

2 large zucchini, cut in half and then sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick flat slices 
1- 16 oz package Tofu, extra firm, drained and pressed to remove excess water
1/2 cup cashews, unsalted 
1/4 cup pistachios, unsalted
4 medium tomatoes
1 cup sun dried tomatoes, soaked in warm water until soft
1 date
1/4 cup fresh parsley
3 cups fresh basil
1 large lemon
1 garlic bulb, roasted (see picture below); plus 2 cloves
Olive oil
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
Quinoa, boiled as per directions (optional)

To make your life easier, prep the pesto, marinara sauce and tofu ricotta first; all of which will need a food processor or blender:

Marinara: Food process all tomatoes, date, parsley, remaining basil, cayenne, 1/2 bulb roasted garlic*. Salt
and pepper to taste. Set aside.



Pesto: In food processor, blend together 2 garlic cloves, 2 cups basil, pistachios, juice of half the lemon and 1/3 cup olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.


Tofu: Food process tofu, cashews, juice of remaining 1/2 lemon, remaining 1/2 bulb roasted garlic. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Lay out zucchini slices and lightly coat each side with olive oil - about 2-3 tablespoons. Season with pepper. Bake for 15 minutes, or until slightly soft but still with bite. 
  • Gently heat marinara and tofu ricotta in separate pans on medium heat (a microwave will work just as well)
  • To plate: Layer 2 slices of cooked zucchini, spread on tofu ricotta and marinara. Layer again with zucchini and repeat for as many layers as you desire.
  • Lastly, top with pesto and extra pistachios for garnish.

*Roasted Garlic: Cut a thin slice off the top of bulb, wrap in foil and roast on 400 for 25-30 minutes


Enjoy!



*Disclosure: By posting this recipe, I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the Soyfoods Council and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.










1 comment:

Curry said...

I totally have to try just to try the ricotta! Brilliant!