Raise-the-roof sweet potato vegetable lasagna

By M.E. Malone
Globe Correspondent / March 25, 2009

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Serves 10

Austin, Texas, firefighter Rip Esselstyn and his wife chose this hearty lasagna as their wedding entree. Because sweet potatoes are prominent in "The Engine 2 Diet," Esselstyn usually cooks a few to keep on hand. If you're starting this from scratch, begin by baking two sweet potatoes and start layering the lasagna once they're done. If you sauce dry noodles generously when layering the lasagna, it's not necessary to boil the pasta. Use a sauce with little or no added oil (Muir Glen's Mushroom Marinara or Portobello Marinara; Whole Foods brand 365 Roasted Red Pepper; Light Ragu Tomato Basil; Trader Joe's Organic Spaghetti with Mushrooms; and Walnut Acres Organic Low Sodium Tomato and Basil). M.E. MALONE

1 onion, chopped
1 small head garlic, cloves chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 head broccoli, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 pound silken tofu
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 jars (about 25 ounces each) prepared pasta sauce
1 pound whole grain lasagna noodles (uncooked)
1 pound frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
6 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup raw cashews, ground
1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Have on hand a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

2. In a large skillet over high heat, cook the onion and garlic, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until they release their liquid.

3. With a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a large bowl, reserving the liquid in the pan.

4. In the same skillet, cook the broccoli and carrots, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add them to the mushroom mixture.

5. Add the bell peppers to the pan and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until they're just beginning to soften; transfer to the bowl of vegetables.

6. Drain the tofu by wrapping it in paper towels. Break it into pieces. Add the tofu to the vegetables with the cayenne, oregano, basil, and rosemary. Mix well.

7. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a layer of sauce. Add a layer of noodles. Cover the noodles generously with sauce. Spread all the vegetables on top. Add another layer of noodles, then another layer of sauce.

8. Distribute all the spinach evenly on top. Use all the sweet potatoes to make another layer. Add sauce, then noodles, and finally more sauce. Lay the tomatoes on top.

9. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

10. Remove the foil. Sprinkle with cashews and return to the oven. Continue baking for 15 minutes. (Total baking time is 1 hour.) Let rest 15 minutes before serving. Adapted from "The Engine 2 Diet"