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Friday, January 11, 2013

What to do with the Tempeh... Lasagna??


The one problem item lurking in my refrigerator is a package of tempeh.  It was purchased during my two month experiment leading up to the holidays.  My experiment with eating only organic foods, and maintaining a strictly vegetarian diet in an attempt to remove GMOs from our food supply.  The experiment that introduced a plethora of new recipes into our routine, with only one ingredient that my eldest can identify from a mile away.  Tempeh.  She developed a distinct dislike for tempeh and can identify it in any recipe - so the package of soy tempeh that I picked up with the wild rice tempeh for use in this amazing Whole Foods Tempeh and Mushroom Stroganoff recipe has lingered in the fridge - luckily it has a long shelf life...


So here I am during my January pantry purge looking at that lonely package of tempeh, wondering if I might be able to slip it in a favorite meal - Lasagna.


My go to lasagna recipe comes from allrecipes.com - Lasagna Roll Ups.  The tofu included in the ricotta adds nutrition, and I generally use whole grain lasagna noodles as well.  But for this one I have to use the over  processed lasagna noodles remaining in the cupboard, so the tempeh makes me feel a bit better about using them up today.

I tend make lots of other modifications to this recipe - mainly being that I don't roll them up.  I usually layer the ingredients into my crockpot without pre-cooking the noodles.  I've also begun incorporating elements from this recipe from Whole Foods as well.

So, I began to contemplate including the tempeh in my usual recipe, as a replacement for the tofu that I usually use - realizing that it would have to be completely hidden to get it past her radar... the main decision was to saute or not to saute the tempeh before adding...

Vegetarian Lasagna with Tempeh

1 24 oz bottle spaghetti sauce
1 pound lasagna noodles - ordinary noodles, not the no boil type
3 pounds ricotta cheese
3 cups grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
pinch black pepper
1 cup mozzarella cheese
8 ounces soy tempeh, very finely diced\
2 14 ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • Combine Ricotta, Parmesan cheese, spinach, granulated garlic, Italian Seasoning, black pepper and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese
  • Pour 1/3 of the bottle of spaghetti sauce into the bottom of the crock.  Add 1 layer of lasagna noodle (~ 1/3 of box) to crock, breaking up noodles as needed to cover bottom.  Add water to jar of spaghetti sauce until jar is almost full, replace lid and shake jar to mix (aka, water down the sauce).
  • Cover noodles in bottom of crock pot with 1/2 of ricotta mixture.  Cover with 1/2 of watered spaghetti sauce and 1/2 can of diced tomatoes.  Sprinkle half of diced tempeh over spaghetti sauce and cover with second layer of lasagna noodles (~1/3 of box).  
  • Repeat layering with rest of ricotta, spaghetti sauce, 1/2 can of diced tomatoes, tempeh and remaining lasagna noodles.  Top with remaining can of diced tomatoes and 2 cups of mozzarella cheese.  

  • Place lid on crock pot and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours.

It worked... almost...  she got halfway through her second bowl before her radar picked up an unusual ingredient...  "What's in here?"  But the promise of some left over Christmas cookies helped get her through the final bites, and she also polished off a serving for lunch the next day.  Mission accomplished - no more tempeh in the refrigerator, and yes - tempeh works in lasagna.  But the question regarding sauteing remains.