Tassajara Vegetarian Whole Wheat Lasagna

September 24, 2009 in cookbook, cooking, ingredient, recipe, review, vegetable

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Some time ago I reviewed a cookbook called “Tassajara Cookbook: Lunches, Picnics, and Appetizers” by Karla Oliveira where I covered Tassajara, a magical mountain retreat for the San Francisco Zen Center.

Today’s review covers the related book Tassajara Dinners & Desserts by Dale and Melissa Kent, a beautiful and delicious cookbook that shares simple go-to vegetarian meals used at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Retreat to nourish the monks, trainees and students who live in this amazing place.

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The photography is just fantastic, inviting you to dive into this book to learn how to make these tasty dinners. The front cover holds nothing back, just take a look at it!


Contents:

Foreword by Senior Dharma Teacher Eijun Linda Ruth Cutts

Introduction

  • What is it like to do active cooking meditation
  • How the zen kitchen works

Starters

  • Ginger Hummus
  • Grandma Chu’s Sweet & Sour Marinated Asparagus

Vegetable Side Dishes

  • Pungent Cucumber Salad with Black Sesame ad Ginger
  • Moroxican Spiced Potatoes

Vegetable Entrees

  • James Creek Farm Ratatouille
  • Tagine with Apricots, Olives, and Artichoke Hearts

Baked Entrees

  • Baked Muffaletta Crepes
  • Annie’s Frittata with Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese, and Sage

Beans & Legumes

  • Butch’s Black Eyed Peas
  • Chickpea Stew with Collard Greens and Indian Spices

Tofu

  • Dragon’s Head Tofu
  • Mole Verde with Tofu

Grains & Pastas

  • Mushroom Squash Risotto
  • Mint-Cilantro Udon with Fresh Ginger and Meyer Lemon

Desserts

  • Lemon Sponge Custard with Raspberry Sauce
  • Ricotta Chevre with Ginger Berry Compote

Basic Techniques

  • Vegetable Stock and Variations
  • Basic Ingredients and Sauces

Tassajara Dinners & Desserts: Tofu Lasagna

For this review I chose to make the a vegetarian lasagna with a change to the book’s recipe. Instead of just using a store bought past (fresh or dried) I used some homemade lasagna I made from organic sprouted whole wheat I had made (see this post for information on making your own sprouted whole wheat flour “Making Sprouted Whole Wheat Flour” and this post on how to make lasagna pasta out of it “Homemade Sprouted Whole Wheat Pasta“). I also used homemade goat cheese (chevre) from our own goats in our backyard (Making chevre cheese from our home-milked goat milk) and organic chard I grew in our garden and egg from our chickens (Humble Garden).

Tofu Lasagna with Mushrooms, Goat Cheese, and Chard

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried pasta or 1.5 pounds fresh pasta
  • Sauce:
  • 1.5 cups chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minded
  • 1 tablespoon dried italian herb seasoning (I used fresh oregano and basil from garden)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cups crumbled tofu
  • 4-5 cups diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
  • Filling:
  • 1 bunch chard
  • 1 pound mushrooms, washed and quartered
  • 1 pound goat cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cups grated Provolone, Mozzarella, Fontina, or Gruyere

Directions

Sauce:

Saute onions, carrots, and celery over medium heat until soft and a bit brown. Add garlic and herbs without stirring. Turn up heat to brown and then add wine to deglaze (scrape up fond – stuck bits). Add tofu and cook with much stirring until liquid almost gone. Brown the tofu a bit, coat with all other sauce parts. Add tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes.

Filling:

Wash greens, remove stems, set the stems aside. Cop stems into tiny bits. Blanch greens and stem bits in boiling water (or steam them) until cooked through. Shock in icy water (this “sets” the chlorophylls so that the chard will be a bright green) and then drain. Chop roughly and then dry completely.

Bake the mushrooms in a 425 F oven or sear them on the stovetop. Set aside with the greens.

Mix the goat cheese, egg, parmesan cheese and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Prepare the lasagna pasta as per instructions.

Oil a 9 by 13 inch baking dish, ladle some sauce on the bottom, add first layer of pasta. Spread 1/4th of the filling over the pasta and cover with some sauce. Layer on some tofu, goat cheese, greens, mushrooms as well as mozzarella (if using). Put down the next layer of pasta and repeat as before, 3 more times. The whole thing should end with a layer of pasta at the top and some more sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan and even, possibly bechamel sauce. (I didnt put the bechamel sauce, seemed a bit much to me).

Bake at 350 F for 30 – 40 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and top is toasty brown.

Our Take on this dish:
Everyone from the toddler on up completely enjoyed this dish. Remember that sprouted wheat yields a bit sweeter product (because the sprouting process started some of the starches on their enzymatic journey) and that any whole wheat pasta product will have a different sort of mouth feel than your usual “white bread” sort of “enriched” pasta product. In this case, the pasta had a lot of presence in this dish, lending an almost “meaty” sort of sensation, which was a plus to those family members who like to have meat at every meal!

My Take on this cookbook:

The book is simply beautiful, the recipes are diverse and quite inspiring for all sorts of eaters: vegetarians to omnivores! I can only say good things about this cookbook, it has been a pleasure to review and oogle over. I suggest giving it a try!

Tassajara Dinners & Desserts: Tofu Lasagna

Product Details:

  • Title: Tassajara Dinners & Desserts
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Gibbs Smith (January 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423605209
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423605201
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds