This is one of those recipes where it's really difficult for me to not gush with expletives when describing it. But I really want to keep it family-friendly here, so I guess I'll just go with understatement and say that I'm pretty excited about it. I've really enjoyed experimenting with root vegetables this year. I unfortunately have to avoid most of the sweet or overly starchy ones, but I've been able to tolerate fairly regular doses of various turnips, rutabaga and celery root, and have really enjoyed their flavor and versatility. It occurred to me that if sliced thinly enough, and paired with a variation of my seed cheeses, I could make a pretty killer lasagna, using the sliced root veggies in place of noodles. A few months ago I tried it, making little individual-sized lasagnas that were tasty and cute, but I had a feeling if tweaked, it could be topped. This past week one of the farms at the market had small rutabagas about 2 or so inches wide, which I'd never seen, so I horded a number of them with this recipe in mind. Well, yesterday, after brainstorming for a week, magic happened. Eyes rolling back in my head, dancing in place, (and yes) shouting expletives kind of magic. What impresses me the most about this dish is how convincingly it stands as a lasagna. The only ingredient that this has in common with a traditional lasagna is basil, but my mouth wouldn't know it. The faux ricotta ends up also seeming as a stand-in for the texture of ground meat, which was a bonus that I wasn't expecting. I'd also like to vouch for the beauty of this dish, as my photographs don't nearly do it justice. Prepping it was almost as good as eating it, as every step was a feast for the eyes. If you're unfamiliar with these fair vegetables, I highly recommend using this as your introduction. Here's hoping that it makes your mouth and belly as happy as mine!
ROOT VEGETABLE LASAGNA
FOOD PROCESSOR WITH SLICING DISC & "S" BLADE
(Or mandolin, or patience and a strong, steady hand)
9 INCH ROUND GLASS CASSEROLE DISH
2 CUPS SLICED RUTABAGA* (about 5 small rutabagas)
1 CUP SLICED CELERY ROOT (1 small-medium root for me)
1 CUP SLICED SCARLET TURNIP (visually impacting, but any turnip should do)
1 CUP LOOSELY PACKED FRESH BASIL
1/4 CUP LOOSELY PACKED FRESH TARRAGON
ABOUT 8 LEAVES OF SWISS CHARD (I used a lovely red-veined one)
1 LAYER OF A FENNEL BULB
1 CUP RAW PUMPKIN SEEDS/PEPITAS
1/2 CUP RAW SUNFLOWER SEEDS
1 TSP FENNEL SEEDS
1 TSP APPLEWOOD SMOKED SEA SALT (regular sea salt works, but you will lose the more authentic lasagna flavor, so try to use some sort of smoked salt)
1/2 TSP FENNEL POWDER
3/4 CUP + 1/4 CUP TEMPT UNSWEETENED ORIGINAL HEMPMILK** or other dairy-free milk
2 TBS OLIVE OIL
JUICE OF 1 LEMON
PREHEAT OVEN TO 400 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT.
TOP OFF ENDS OF RUTABAGAS AND PEEL SKINS OFF, SLICE OFF ROUGH SKINS & KNOTS OF CELERY ROOT, AND WASH TURNIPS AND SET ASIDE. IF USING FOOD PROCESSOR, HALVE VEGETABLES IF NEEDED TO FIT IN THE CHUTE. SLICE THINLY WITH FOOD PROCESSOR, MANDOLIN, OR BY HAND AND SET ASIDE. IN FOOD PROCESSOR FITTED WITH AN "S" BLADE, PROCESS PUMPKIN, SUNFLOWER AND FENNEL SEEDS UNTIL GROUND. MIX WITH FENNEL POWDER & SEA SALT, THEN ADD HEMPMILK, OLIVE OIL AND LEMON, SET ASIDE. WASH HERBS AND CHARD, DE-STEM CHARD, AND USING A VEGETABLE PEELER SHAVE THE FENNEL FROM TOP TO BOTTOM INTO THIN STRIPS, SET ALL ASIDE. TAKE YOUR CASSEROLE DISH AND COAT WITH SOME OLIVE OIL. NOW FOR YOUR LAYERS, FROM BOTTOM TO TOP:
2. ROOT VEGETABLE
4. BASIL LEAVES, WHOLE
5. SPRINKLED TARRAGON & FENNEL BULB
6. CHARD LEAVES
7. ROOT VEGETABLE
TOP WITH REMAINING FENNEL BULB, AND DRIZZLE WITH A BIT OF OLIVE OIL. POUR 1/4 CUP HEMPMILK OVER THE DISH. PLACE PARTIALLY COVERED IN PREHEATED OVEN, AND COOK FOR ABOUT 45 MINUTES OR UNTIL BROWNED ON BOTTOM. SERVE BY SLICING WEDGES WITH A KNIFE, AND REMOVING WITH A FLEXIBLE SPATULA.
*If you're curious about the rutabaga, be sure to check out Kim's informative post, which includes some amazing recipes, here.