Not a raw vegan, just a fan of their food

Posted on 25.09.2011


I’m not sure I have the time or the inclination to be a FT raw vegan. From what I understand, even raw vegans have trouble being raw vegans all the time. But that doesn’t change the way I feel about their food.

Me and vegans have something in common, that being the lack of milk products in our diets. Often when I’m cruising the GF listings on foodgawker, I come across some vegan recipes that happen to be GF, or DF. That’s great, since a lot of the GF listings tend to have milk in them. It’s not a huge problem, since I can often just sub in my rice milk, but it’s a pain in the ass when something really requires actual milk. I also hate the amount of cheese included in recipes on the GF pages. But what can I do? Read carefully, I guess.

So I came across this recipe for raw vegan lasagne, and I decided to try it. Quite honestly, I’m of Italian heritage and therefore never bother to follow a recipe for Italian cooking, as I’ve been raised doing it and know how. Also, it’s very easy for me to make a GF lasagne, all I need to do is buy some wheat-free lasagne noodles and skip the cheese. But then I thought about my vegan friends, and how they might like this recipe. I also thought about the restaurant that Rachael and I ate at in Berlin that was AMAZING and totally raw and vegan.

My issue with raw, and vegan most often, is that it relies heavily on nuts for protein. That’s awesome and oh so hunter-gather-y of them, but it makes for a feeling of being full for two days and sometimes constipation. You’ve been warned. Since I tend to shy away from constipation, raw vegan and I can’t have a full-time relationship. But I was willing to try this, knowing full well that I’d have to space out my portions and probably spend a whole week not eating meat because of it.

Raw Veganism is not for people with a busy schedule. The first step in this recipe was to soak things. The times varied between 6 hours and overnight, and in some instances the recipe didn’t even say how long to soak the things. So I got my soak on. I have no idea if there is a special way to ‘soak’ things in this style of cooking, so I just kept them in water overnight.

soaking on the oven: l-r, sun-dried tomatoes, dates, walnuts and cashews. Lots of nuts.

There was one part of the recipe that called for walnuts soaked for 6 hours in the fridge, and I did that the following morning, rather than soaking them and having them sit overnight, drying out. I’ve noticed from all of this soaking and excess produce sitting out in my kitchen that it is most definitely fruit fly season.

I hate those things!!!

After soaking for the night, the recipe suggested that one must ‘drain and dry’ most of the ingredients, so after that I had a half-day full of these things laying out on my counter top on a towel, drying after being drained.

The fruit flies were all over the stuff, and it got to the point where every time I’d walk into the kitchen, I’d bang on my counter top to scare them away. OBNOXIOUS!!! But honestly, I don’t think there was any way to do it.

A word to the wise: let the stuff dry out in a room where the windows are CLOSED!!! Better yet, save this type of cooking for the colder months, when the fruit flies are all dead.

After the last group of walnuts were done soaking in the fridge, I pulled everything out and started putting the recipe together. It comes in four parts, and each of the soaked ingredients went into a different part:

On the top left, there’s the ‘marinara sauce’, made with sun-dried tomatoes and the dates.

On the top right is the spinach walnut pesto, made (shockingly) with spinach and walnuts. I tossed in a bunch of my fresh basil from the garden to add a little extra. That was a great idea.

Bottom left is the cashew cheese. I was really amazed at how easy it was to mold. I could literally pick it up out of the bowl and mold it like Play-Doh.

Bottom right is the walnut sage ‘sausage’. It held true to every fake sausage I’ve ever had and was really crumbly, but that wasn’t a bad thing. It was equally easy to mold, but hard to make in the food processor. It was so thick that it kept sticking to the sides, and I’d have to stop the processor, take off the lid and shove everything back down. I finally gave up and decided it was blended enough.

I was most skeptical about the cashew cheese, since I am a huge lover of the real thing. I don’t care that it hurts me.

I have to say, I was thoroughly shocked by this stuff. It definitely didn’t totally taste like mozzarella cheese, but it was a really good substitute. So good, in fact, that I might make it on its own more often to get my cheese fix. I doubt this goes well on mac n cheese, though.

Once everything was blended, it was time to put it all together. The recipe calls for you to pile it like real lasagna, in layers, but because zucchini is substituted for the noodles, I wasn’t into the idea of trying to cut through that and having all of the filling spill out of the sides, which was BOUND to happen. At the bottom of the recipe were extra instructions for making little lasagne rolls. I did that instead.

It was like making lasagne sushi. And it was fun! And just as sticky, just so you know.

The recipe suggested that you should slice the zucchini really thin. I decided I’m not capable of that, so I used my vegetable slicer, which is really wide, instead to ‘slice’ it, and that worked out really well.

Making the rolls was ok, but I quickly realized why the recipe calls for a medium zucchini, as my pretty small and local German zucchini was definitely too thin. Not too thin to make the rolls, but they were immediately bite-sized and there was no cutting in half necessary. So, no big issue.

I had a lot of smaller pieces of the zucchini that were too small to make a wrapper of, so I started improvising. The most successful of my improvisations is what I will from now on call the ‘lasagne taco’. I think it’s easy to see why:

A totally easy option for slices of zucchini that are not long enough.

Something else that worked really well was placing all of the ingredients on top of a thin slice of tomato. In fact, I think the layering recipe called for a tomato, but I ended up not using it. And honestly, the recipe tastes totally fine without it. I might even say it’s better without the tomato, because when you have the tomato you suddenly realize how dry everything else you’re eating is.

Either way, this recipe is a winner, I’ll definitely be making it again, and I look forward to eating it all week. Because seriously, it made SO MUCH of everything that I made a full container of the little rolls for lunch this week and I still have 75% of the recipe left over. I’m fine with that:)


Posted in: diet, food, GF/DF