Gluten-Free · Health & Wellness · Healthy · Italian · Lighten Up · Main Dishes · Vegan · Vegetarian

Spinach & Lentil Lasagna Rolls (vegan | gluten-free optional)

Happy Friday, friends! Man-oh-man do I have a winning recipe for you today – vegan Lasagna Rolls stuffed with decadent garlic cashew cream, nutrient-rich spinach and hearty lentils. Yum, yum, yum! This recipe was designed to use up a lot of ingredients I had on hand, so it was extra easy for me to whip up. I had a bag of frozen spinach in the freezer along with some garlic cashew cream that I had frozen a couple weeks back – lucky me! Other than that, I simply cooked up some lentils, boiled some noodles and made my super simple chunky tomato sauce. Easy enough.

Now, if you don’t have cashew cream on hand, and you want to use fresh spinach, then yes, there are quite a few components to this recipe, and it might seem a big intensive. But I assure you it’s all very straight forward. However, if you really want to make this a simple dinner, just use these time saving tricks…

– pre-cooked lentils (at Whole Foods, you can buy them in the canned beans area or in a plastic container in the fresh produce section)
– jarred marinara sauce (1.5 jars should be enough)
– frozen spinach (just microwave with a bit of water in a covered microwave safe dish – no need to boil water)
– high speed blender makes it quick and easy to whip up a vegan cashew cream sauce for the filling – no need to soak the cashews – and instead of roasting the garlic, just sauté 4 minced cloves in a bit of olive oil until golden, 3-4 minutes

Whether you use the time saving tricks, or the complete from-scratch recipe, this is so outrageously delicious and the ultimate healthy comfort food. It’s also perfectly portioned, making it great for packing into separate containers for on-the-go lunches, and it’s great for entertaining because not only does it look beautiful and impressive, but it will also please any one, vegan or not. The lentils in the filling add texture, substance, protein and fiber, and the cashew cream sauce adds tons of flavor. Topped off with my best-of-basic chunky marinara, this is a crowd pleaser through & through.

Vegan Spinach & Lentil Lasagna Rolls
Serves: 4 Start to Finish: 60 minutes (not incl. cashew soaking or garlic roasting)

Ingredients

For Lasagna Rolls
10 lasagna noodles (Tinkyada makes a great gluten-free lasagna noodle, if gf is desired)
16 oz frozen spinach or 16-18 oz fresh baby spinach
1 cup cooked lentils (green, brown or black) – canned and pre-steamed lentils from the market are great for this, or cook your own until super tender
1.5 cups garlic cashew cream sauce (ingredient list follows)
1 batch chunky marinara (ingredient list follows, 1 jar of your favorite marinara works too)
Garnishes of choice (I used shredded basil, 8 large leaves, & 3 tbs toasted pine nuts)

Garlic Cream Sauce
1.5 cups raw cashews, soaked for 2-3 hours if NOT using a high speed blender, if using high speed blender, no need to soak
1 cup water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 head roasted garlic (or 4 cloves minced garlic sautéed with 1 tbs olive oil until golden, see below for garlic roasting instructions)

For Chunky Marinara Sauce
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 pinch crushed red pepper flake (optional)
2 teaspoons sea salt (fine grain), divided, plus more to taste
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes (I like using an organic, fire-roasted variety)
1 14-oz can crushed tomatoes (again, I like an organic, fire-roasted variety)

*for time saving techniques, see the body of this post (scroll up)

To Make

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. If using roasted garlic in the cashew cream sauce, follow instructions at the bottom of the recipe.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for lasagna noodles. This recipe makes 8-10 roll ups, so you really only need 8-10 cooked noodles. I like to cook a few extra because some noodles always break apart while boiling.

If using fresh spinach, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add spinach leaves to boiling water and push down with a spoon until fully submerged, cook for 1-2 minutes, drain. When cool, squeeze out excess liquid and roughly chop. If using frozen spinach, cook according to package instructions. Once cool, squeeze out excess liquid, roughly chop.

Meanwhile, make chunky marinara sauce. Add olive oil to a small-medium pot, heat over medium flame. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until translucent and soft. Add minced garlic, dried herbs and red pepper flake (if using). Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add both cans of tomatoes, 1.5 teaspoons sea salt and 1 cup of water. Bring sauce to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Season with additional salt to taste.

By now, pasta water should be boiling. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil to boiling water and then noodles, stirring gently to prevent sticking. Cook for 2-3 minutes less than package instructions suggest as the noodles will cook more in the oven. When noodles are finished cooking, drain immediately.

While sauce simmers and pasta cooks, make cashew cream sauce. Combine all cream sauce ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender. Blend until smooth. With a food processor this could take up to 5 minutes, pausing a few times to scrape down sides. Only a high speed blender will get the sauce completely smooth but it doesn’t matter if it’s a bit grainy. Just get the sauce as smooth as possible.

Combine cashew cream sauce, cooked spinach and lentils. Add sea salt to taste.

Lay lasagna noodles out on a clean counter top. To prevent sticking, you can line the counter with plastic wrap if desired.

Add 1+ cup of chunky marinara sauce to the bottom of a medium casserole dish. Spread evenly over the entire bottom of the dish.

Add about 1/4 cup of spinach/lentil mixture onto each noodle, covering as much noodle-surface as possibly with the filling. Roll each noodle gently and place seam-side down into the sauce covered dish. Repeat until all filling is used up. Cover lasagna rolls with remaining sauce, covering as much noodle surface area as possible.

Cover dish with foil and bake until bubbly, about 20 minutes. Garnish with basil and toasted pine nuts if desired.

roasting garlic – lay out a piece of foil onto a flat surface and add 2 teaspoons of oil to the center of the foil. Cut the unpeeled head of garlic cross-wise, about 1/4″ above the base of the garlic bulb. Rub the cut sides of the garlic in the oil, place the garlic back together and wrap in foil. Roast in the oven at 375 or 400 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until cloves are super soft and golden. Once cool, squeeze softened cloves from skin (they should come out very easily). Voila, roasted garlic!

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