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Raw zucchini lasagna

February 16, 2010 9:24:37 AM PST
It's this week's neighborhood eats, nothing is cooked! It's a way to eat healthy, and caps off our week-long series "a better you in 2010."

Around the kitchen at Pure Food and Wine, you won't see any meat, dairy, eggs, or even ovens. Everything at pure food and wine is raw.

"The idea behind raw is you're not cooking out the nutrients or enzymes in the food and it's Outcue: easier to digest," says the restaurants owner, Sarma Mengalis.

Pure Food and Wine and its take out cafe opened 6 years ago. They're a stone's throw from Grammercy Park. Mengalis also has a line of packaged foods, and two cook books.

Chef Neal harden does a lot to make that food beyond what you'd ever expect.

To make his lasagna he uses zucchini marinated in herbs and olive oil.

ZUCCHINI AND HEIRLOOM TOMATO LASAGNA
with basil pistachio pesto, tomato sauce and macadamia ricotta

Our original recipe uses pine nuts, which makes a tastier ricotta, but there's a shortage of pine nuts these days so we've substituted macadamia nuts. (The recipe is the same using either nut). Both are good!

From Raw Food Real World (Harper Collins, 2005)

Serves 6

For the Macadamia Ricotta

  • 2 cup macadamia nuts (soaked for 1 hour or more in water, drained)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons water
    Place the macadamia nuts with the lemon juice, nutritional yeast and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times until thoroughly combined. Add water gradually and process until the texture becomes fluffy, like ricotta.

    For the Tomato Sauce

  • 2 cups sun-dried tomatoes (soaked in water for 2 hours or more, drained)
  • ? cup diced fresh tomato
  • ? cup onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ? cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Pinch of hot pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme
  • 2 teaspoons chopped oregano
    Squeeze all the liquid out of the tomatoes very well! Place all of the above ingredients except for the herbs in a high-power blender and blend, but not too much, so still slightly chunky texture. Taste for seasoning, add herbs and pulse.

    For the Basil-Pistachio Pesto

  • 2 cups packed basil leaves
  • ? cup raw pistachios
  • ? cup +2 tablespoons cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

    Place the above ingredients in a high-power blender and blend until smooth but still chunky.

    For the Lasagna

  • 2 to 3 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
  • 2 tablesoons cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium heirloom tomatoes, sliced about 1/4" thick
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Whole basil leaves for garnish

    Cut the ends off the zucchini and cut into 2 to 3" lengths. Slice each piece into very thin slices using a mandoline or a vegetable peeler. Just before assembling, toss in bowl w/ olive oil and the oregano, thyme and pinch of salt and pepper.

    Line the bottom of a 9 by 13" baking dish with a layer of zucchini slices, each one slightly overlapping the another. Spread about 1/3 of the tomato sauce over it and top with dollops of ricotta and pesto, using about 1/3 of each. Layer on about 1/3 of the tomato slices. Add another layer of zucchini slices and repeat twice more with the tomato sauce, ricotta, pesto, and tomato slices. Serve immediately, or cover with plastic and let sit at room temperature for a few hours. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

    Alternately, to make individual servings, place about 3 zucchini slices, slightly overlapping, in the center of each serving plate, to make a square shape. Spread tomato sauce over the zucchini, top with small dollops of ricotta and pesto and a few tomato slices. Repeat twice more. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

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