I love April for many reasons, spring is in the air, Easter feasts, and my favourite film fest, Hot Docs, the Canadian International Documentary Festival kicks off. But I also love April because spring means, DETOX TIME! Many folk cringe at the thought of a detox, but I have cleansed annually for over 10 years now and I love it. However, my spring cleanse also tends to cross over with my marathon training. I need lots of carbs and protein to help my body recover from long training runs. Can one cleanse and train at the same time? My Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna recipe says YES, yes you can!
A spring detox flushes out all of the stale winter toxins, and resets my system leaving me feeling energized, which is great for training. Bad habits are broken and every time I discover healthy alternatives and new recipes. One of the first yummy cleanse-friendly items I discovered was brown rice pasta, that can be found at any big grocery chain or health store. While a bit more delicate than regular pasta, the brown rice has great flavour and is totally gluten free!
So I managed to make a gluten free lasagna…but can I really make this classic Italian dish dairy free too?
I’m pretty sure my boyfriend’s Italian grandmother would find this sinful…but here I go!
For the dairy substitute, I really love Daiya products. My boyfriend is lactose intolerant so we try to stay dairy free throughout the year, and I’ve been buying Daiya cheese regularly. I combined the Daiya mozzarella shreds with crumbled firm tofu to mimic ricotta cheese, and lemme tell ya, it really holds up! The tofu and mozzarella substitute blend well together and taste just like soft, salty ricotta cheese. Yum!
If you’ve been reading my blog, you know how much I love lamb. Juicy, tasty lamb is the only red meat allowed on the detox. While higher in cholesterol than beef, lamb is lower in sodium, contains more good fats and is rich in zinc, iron and B12. Most importantly, lamb contains more protein than any other meat, and that makes it a fantastic recovery food for aching muscles. Our gluten free, dairy free, protein-rich lamb lasagna is coming together!
The final step to making this awesome lasagna is in the construction. One tip I picked up from taking the Culinary Arts class at George Brown College was to alternate between short vertical pieces of lasagna and horizontal pieces. By having vertical and horizontal pasta layered throughout the lasagna, it helps to hold the dish together and prevents spillage when slicing. A genius tip, that I now pass on to you!
And there you have it my friends. Soft, flavourful brown rice pasta is slathered in rich, lamb tomato sauce and held together with creamy, protein infused “ricotta”cheese. There are so many awesome flavours happening here that you won’t even realize you’ve got gluten, dairy free. So cleanse away and run, bike and swim your heart out. This Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna will help you recover and give you renewed energy to do it all again!
Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna
This Gluten Free Dairy Free Lamb Lasagna is filled with rich lamb, brown rice pasta, tofu and Daiya cheese. A delicious dish to have on a detox, and makes for an awesome post workout meal.
- 1 box brown rice lasagna noodles
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 227 g Daiya dairy free mozzarella shreds divided in half
- 450 g firm tofu drain, dried and crumbled
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 4 cloves garlic peeled, minced
- 1 medium yellow onion peeled, diced
- 1 red pepper seeded, diced
- 2 tablespoons Bob's Red Mill Cornstarch
- 156 ml tomato paste
- 796 ml diced tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely minced or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely minced or 1 teaspoon dried
- sea salt and ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a large casserole dish.
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water as per directions on the box. Be careful not to overcook; brown rice pasta tears very easily.
Spread a couple of tablespoons of olive oil onto a baking sheet. When pasta is ready, drain and spread sheets of pasta flat on baking sheet.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine half the Daiya cheese with the crumbled tofu and mix well.
Heat sauté pan to high. Flatten meat and place in pan, turning down the heat to medium. Slowly break up the meat with a wooden spoon until just cooked. Meat should be greyish in colour, not brown, so that the vegetable flavours can marry with the meat.
Add all the vegetables and garlic. Sauté until just cooked, shiny but still a bit crunchy, approximately 5 minutes.
Turn the heat down to medium low and sprinkle the cornstarch over meat and vegetables. Mix well.
Working quickly, add the tomato paste and mix well. Add the diced tomatoes and stir to combine.
Add the bay leaf, chili flakes, basil and oregano and mix well to combine. Simmer over low heat until sauce thickens, but still has some liquid.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and remove bay leaf.
Spoon a layer of thin sauce into the casserole dish. Trim noodles and place vertically across the casserole dish, overlapping the edges. Spread 1/3 of the sauce over top. Sprinkle half of the Daiya/tofu mixture evenly over top of the sauce.
For the next layer, place noodles horizontally across, overlapping the edges, followed by another layer of trimmed, vertical noodles.
Layer 1/3 of the sauce over top, spreading evenly. Sprinkle remaining Daiya/tofu mixture over top of the sauce.
For the top layer, place noodles horizontally across followed by the rest of the sauce, being sure to cover the noodles well. Use a spatula to help spread the sauce evenly. Top with remaining cheese.
Cover loosely with aluminum foil, making sure the foil doesn't touch the cheesy top. Bake at 375F for 30 minutes, covered. Then uncover and bake at 325F for another 15 minutes. Cool 5-10 minutes before serving.