When you see a dish with nearly every color of the rainbow, you know it's going to be worth your time. This is one of my absolute favorites for pleasing a crowd with a variety of "food rules" while offering a nutritious and delicious experience. It may take a few steps but rest assured, it will be worth it.
Following a whole food, plant-based meals may or may not exclude certain humanely raised and organic fed animal proteins. When you learn to eat intuitively, you eat what your body is craving. Sometimes that may include some animal protein. What's important, now more than ever, is when you're out having a good time with friends, just focus on that. Because we all need more of that, right?
This dish is flexible, can even be called "flexitarian," because it can be made with or without animal protein, and has an option to swap goat or sheep feta with vegan feta, or omit altogether. I promise you will love the results however you choose.
As far as nutrition, nearly every ingredient offers a host of benefits. Just to cover a few:
Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, potassium, folate (B9), vitamin K1 but are possibly most appreciated for their high levels of lycopene, an antioxidant that has been linked to cancer prevention. Something to note is that lycopene content increases when tomatoes are cooked.
Spinach is a leafy green rich in nutrients, antioxidants, fiber and...protein! Just a few ounces of raw spinach contains nearly 3 grams of plant protein. Spinach is also a great source of iron, calcium, and vitamin A as well. It's important to note that spinach is #2 on the environmental working groups dirty dozen list and has been found to contain DDT (which was banned because of high toxicity in the 1950s!). Buy organic spinach whenever possible.
Sweet Potatoes (orange varieties) contain a wide range of vitamins, mainly vitamin A (contained in most orange produce), as well as manganese, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6, and more. Just one cup contains nearly 7 grams of fiber (!), 41 grams of plant-based carbohydrate, and 4 grams of protein. If that's not enough, they also host a load of antioxidants that protect against free-radical damage linked to chronic illness. Their high soluble fiber content is also supportive of gut health as this helps the with water absorption and softening stool.
Back to the dish...this recipe provides ample portions to serve a crowd, anywhere from 8-10 depending on whether you serve it with a side dish or not. Try serving it with our Kale Caesar Salad and some Chickpea Croutons (recipe below) for a gluten-free option. You can also boost the flavor with a layer or garnish of a good pesto, like our Purslane Pesto or some let's now waste Carrot Top Pesto. Adding a little pesto really boosts the flavor!
For this dish, you will need:
2 lbs. ripe tomatoes
6 cloves garlic
2 medium sweet potatoes
4 oz feta cheese (or sub vegan feta)
8 ounces cremini mushrooms*
2 cups organic baby spinach
1 lb organic ground turkey (or sub with double mushroom mixture)
1 small chopped yellow onion
2 medium zucchini squash
Spices, Sea salt & Freshly ground pepper, Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pre-made pesto (optional)
Brazil nuts, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, optional for vegan "parm"
Broccoli sprouts, optional for garnish and nutrient boost
Roasted Tomato Sauce
2 lbs organic Roma tomatoes, chopped or left whole on the vine (the latter method will take longer in the oven)
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled, tops trimmed
1 TB olive oil
2 tsp Italian seasoning (or a combination of dried oregano, thyme, & basil)
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
Note, you can skip this step and use a good store bought variety like this one.
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place tomatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread the garlic cloves among the tomatoes.
2) Sprinkle with herbs and drizzle olive oil over the tomato mixture.
3) Roast in the oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to blacken around the edges, becoming soft and caramelized.
4) Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt and pepper. When cool enough, squeeze the roasted garlic out of the clove (this is why it helps to trim the top). Remove stems if using tomatoes on the vine. Transfer the mixture to a blender and mix until you reach a desired consistency. You can also skip the blender and use a potato masher or large fork for a chunkier texture. Set aside.
2 lbs roughly chopped tomatoes, 4 cloves garlic, and a sprinkle of seasoning...
Becomes a luscious sauce...
Sweet Potato Filling
2 medium sweet potatoes, baked
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
4 oz feta cheese (or vegan feta), crumbled, optional*
1) While the tomatoes are roasting, scrub the sweet potatoes and slice in half lengthwise. Place split-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven (can be roasted with the tomatoes to save time) for 30-40 minutes. This will depend on the size of your potatoes. When the potatoes are fork-tender, remove from oven and allow to cool.
2) When cool enough, scoop the flesh from the sweet potatoes and transfer to a large bowl. Use a potato masher or a large fork and mash the potatoes until soft and no large chunks remain. Add seasonings and cheese (if using). Set aside.
1 TB avocado oil, water or broth
8 oz cremini mushrooms
2 cups organic spinach
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
1) Wipe the mushrooms clean using a towel or a mushroom brush. Trim and slice the mushrooms (can also buy pre-sliced cremini mushrooms to save time).
2) Heat a cast iron pan or skillet and when hot, add oil, water or broth (if using water or broth, you may need to allow more time due to high water content in mushrooms). Add mushrooms and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until they release their liquid, turn darker and begin to caramelize. Turn off heat and add spinach, stir and allow to wilt. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside.
Organic Ground Turkey Filling (optional)
1 small onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 lb. organic ground turkey
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp Baharat, optional
1) Heat the same pan used for the mushrooms, and add 2 TB water or broth. Add onions and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the turkey and seasonings and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon/spatula. Continue to cook until just cooked and no pink meat remains. Taste and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper if desired. Set aside.
2 medium zucchini squash (green or yellow okay)
Sea salt, optional
1) To make zucchini lasagna noodles, trim the ends and run a cheese plane lengthwise along the squash. Repeat until about halfway through and then flip (you can also go back and forth). See video below for a quick demo...
2) If you want to go the extra step, you can set the "noodles" in a colander over a bowl, sprinkle salt and allow the excess water to drain off. This will take about 20 minutes. If you skip this step (I did), your lasagna may have some excess water but you can easily mop it up with a towel. If you make ahead, some of the liquid will get reabsorbed. You can also grill your zucchini noodles for extra flavor and to reduce excess liquid. Set aside.
Assembling Your Lasagna:
Now that you have all the components (note, you can prep any of the above ahead of time and assemble when you have the time), assemble your lasagna.
1) Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9X13 inch baking dish. Add a single layer of zucchini noodles, trying to place each noodle so there aren't gaps between them.
2) Add 1/2 of the meat mixture (if using) and then the mushroom mixture (or 1/2 the mushroom mixture if making meat-free version). Top with another layer of noodles.
3) Add 1/2 the sweet potato mixture and spread evenly over the zucchini noodles. Sprinkle the crumbled feta over the sweet potato mixture (if using). Top with another layer of noodles.
4) Add remaining meat and/or mushroom mixture and top with another layer of noodles.
5) spread remaining sweet potato mixture over the noodles and add any remaining feta (or Brazil nut parmesan). Top with remaining meat and/or mushroom mixture.
6) finish with a layer of noodles and top with remaining sauce. The sauce should cover the noodles completely.
7) Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, until the sauce bubbles around the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool before slicing. If making ahead (recommended), cool completely, cover and store in fridge for up to 3 days. When ready to enjoy, reheat in the oven at 350 for another 15-20 minutes.
8) To serve, slice with a sharp knife and use a spatula to scoop out slices carefully so they stay in tact. Top with an optional dollop of pesto, some Brazil nut parmesan (recipe below) and some greens (we like microgreens like broccoli sprouts for a boost of nutritional benefits).
Brazil Nut Parmesan (2 Brazil nuts grated on a microplane, 1 TB nutritional yeast, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp sea salt)
Purslane or Carrot Top Pesto, optional
*can swap the cheese/vegan cheese with a sprinkle of Brazil nut Parmesan (recipe above).
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?
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