Let's establish one thing here. I detest going to the gym. I do so almost every other day because I need to, and because I get a personal TV screen whilst peddling my legs to muscular dystrophy on the elliptical machine. I also get to put on my headphones on full volume and yell at silly Sarah Palin statements or channel silent hate to
Unfortunately, Direct TV decided to be a pain in the butt today and would not allow me to watch ANY news channel (ok, I didn't even bother trying FOX News). I ended up watching Racheal Ray's 30 Minute Meals because when you're triddling on the treadmill, you need some sort of distraction, even if it's in the form of a chippy who grins like she has had one too many omelettes and sounds like she swallowed a whole bottle of ecstasy pills (who TALKS like that in real life?). I've ranted before about how annoying I find her, but I tuned in today (shamefully) to find that she was making a decent recipe which I could improvise to make it dairy-free (the boyfriend has dairy allergies). She made an easy lasagna recipe using spiral pasta instead of egg noodles. And instead of using the traditional ricotta, she used a bechamel sauce, with milk of course.
For my improvisation, I used soy milk and added sliced canned button mushrooms to create a mushroom bechamel sauce. It turned out to be a wonderfully creamy concoction, not unlike melted cream cheese. Vegans can use portabello mushrooms instead of beef for the tomato sauce and substitute chicken broth for vegetable broth. The baking part is my idea, mostly because it allows the sauces to stick to pasta and dries it up a little bit. I added grated Parmigiano just coz IHRTCHEEZ. I used a bottle of Pugliese Primitiva red wine I picked up from World Market for the recipe, and finished the rest off while cooking. The entire cooking time took less than half and hour, and the end product was pretty good considering the fact that it's really just curly-wurly pasta in tons of meat sauce.
No-cheese Easy Faux Lasagna
2 cups whole-grain short spiral pasta (like fusilli or rotini or spiralli)
1/2 lb lean ground beef
2 Italian sausages links
2 slices pancetta, diced
1 small can tomato paste
1 medium carrot, grated
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 tsp allspice
2 bay leaves
1/2 can button mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp cooking margarine
2 tbsp flour
2 cups unsweetened soy milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
Handful chopped parsley (fresh) or 1 tbsp dried
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat 2 tbsps olive oil in a skillet. Add in the pancetta and ground beef and saute for about 5 minutes. Toss in the onions, 1/2 of the minced garlic, grated carrots, allspice, bay leaf and freshly ground black pepper and saute for another 10 minutes until the beef is cooked through. Add in tomate paste and wine and gently simmer until the beef mixture thickens.
Cook pasta according to directions. You want to make it al dente. Do not overcook. Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a separate saucepan, heat the margarine on medium until melted. Add in remaining minced garlic and sliced mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms turn slightly brown. Whisk in the flour and gently pour in soy milk. Whisk till the sauce thickens. Add in grated nutmeg, some freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste. Turn the heat down to low. Add in chicken broth until the bechamel sauce reaches the consistency of melted cheese.
In a baking dish, layer half the cooked pasta, add on the bechamel sauce, top with remaining cooked pasta and finish off with the meat sauce. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes and sprinkle with chopped parsley.