It’s hard not to love a good raw lasagna. It takes all the best elements of a quintessential comfort food and turns them on their head, transforming a typically heavy, calorie-laden dish into something light, summery, and delightfully unexpected.
Just like a real lasagna, each layer should be delicious on its own, and yet will not truly shine until combined with the others. And just like a real lasagna, it’s the perfect food to share with friends. You can make it ahead of time, safe in the knowledge that you can feed anyone who walks through the door, and confident that they will be appreciative, as this dish inevitably suggests that a certain amount of effort went into its preparation. Making someone lasagna is like saying, “I love you” without words. And even the most rustic lasagna is beautiful to behold.
Can you tell I love lasagna? It really is the perfect food as far as I’m concerned. And while I love pretty well every rich, cozy, and cheese-smothered variation out there, the bounty of summer (not to mention the humidity) calls for something a little different. The last thing I want to do when it’s 30+ degrees outside is have the stove and oven going for hours at a time, or feel weighed down with dairy and heavy sauces.
The really great thing about raw lasagna, too, is that it’s really approachable. Even the least culinarily adventurous of your friends will be able to get behind it, because it still feels familiar. Many people who are confronted by raw food for the first time find it strange and intimidating, so this is a really good starting point.
I came up with this recipe last summer but didn’t have time to shoot it before we left for Europe, so I’ve been patiently sitting on it for a whole year, waiting for when everyone’s kitchens start to overflow with zucchini. Despite the seeming length of the ingredient list, it’s actually a fairly effortless dish to make. There are a couple of things to soak overnight, three sauces to throw together in the food processor, and then you’re basically done. You can make each element ahead of time, even the day before, but should slice the zucchini and layer everything just before you are ready to serve, otherwise your lasagna will become soggy. Any leftover sauces can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week, making for really easy weeknight meals. The sun-dried tomato compote will probably last quite a bit longer, so feel free to double the recipe and enjoy with pasta or eggs.
This can be prepared as bite-sized appetizers, as shown above, or as a main course, as shown below. The first option is a little more time consuming, but really does make for a stunning party snack, and allows even your most staunchly meat-loving friends to have a taste without worrying about wasting food.
Raw Vegan Lasagna Bites
~ gluten free, vegan, raw, soy free, sugar free ~
- 2 medium zucchini
- a handful of pea shoots or other microgreens
- nutritional yeast
For the Sunflower Ricotta
- 3/4 cup sunflower seeds, soaked overnight or at least 4 hours
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- juice from half a lemon
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp white miso
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup filtered water, as needed
For the Sun-dried Tomato + Olive Compote
- 1/2 cup drained and rinsed oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
- 1/4 cup organic, cold-pressed olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
For the Herbed Cashew Cheese Sauce
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight or at least 4 hours
- juice from half a lemon
- 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 3 large basil leaves
- Thinly slice the zucchini into even rounds, if making an appetizer, or peel into long strips, if making a main dish.
- Add all the ingredients for the sunflower ricotta, except for the water, into a food processor or blender and process until mostly smooth. Add water as necessary to thin it out to desired consistency, then taste for seasoning and set aside.
- Give the food processor a quick rinse, then add the ingredients for the sun-dried tomato compote and pulse until mostly smooth. Set aside.
- Give the food processor another quick rinse and then blend the ingredients for the cashew sauce until completely smooth.
- To assemble: Spread a small amount of the sunflower ricotta onto a slice of zucchini, then top with another slice of zucchini. Spread some of the sun-dried tomato compote on this, then another zucchini slice, then the cashew sauce, then another slice of zucchini. For a bite-sized lasagna I would just do one layer of each. For a full lasagna, repeat this process for two complete layers.
- Garnish with sprinkled nutritional yeast and some microgreens, and serve immediately.