When making lasagna, one incredibly vivid memory comes to mind. At the Rio+20 Earth summit in Brazil in 2012, there were reportedly 50,000 people in attendance. Many environmental enthusiasts, activists, journalists, and dignitaries from 180 countries at the central pavilion tasted our restaurant’s various vegan and vegetarian meals. Our vegetarian lasagna has been a massive hit at several events over the years and was no exception in Rio de Janeiro. Since 1998, our team and I have always prepared and served vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free lasagna at various events, from diverse music festivals to yoga events and fundraising events for our charity work. Around the world, and spiritual retreats.
This vegan, gluten-free “artful recipe rendition” Rice Paper Vegetable Lasagna is a creative alternative to traditional lasagna. It is creamy, soft, and has a superb taste and feel. The rice paper used in this recipe is a healthier, gluten-free substitute for traditional wheat pasta, which tastes as delectable, soft, and chewy as lasagna yet tastes new to your palate. If you have had a salad roll or vegetable roll at a Vietnamese or Asian restaurant, you’ve eaten a rice paper wrapper.
The rice paper wrappers used in this recipe can be purchased at an Asian grocery store. These wrappers are super thin, traditionally made from rice, water, and salt, and can be filled with virtually any filling. In addition, the wrappers are translucent enough to see the filling inside and have a pleasant chewiness. To use the wrapper, you must dip each wrapper into warm water for 3-5 seconds to soften it and then place it on each layer as you do in a traditional lasagna.
You can purchase rice paper at any Asian store that comes in a square or round shape to fit the tray or recipe you will produce. Vegan lasagna does not need to be baked in the oven for an extended period. For example, the vegetables in this recipe are half cooked; soaking rice paper in water before laying it over the vegetables makes it soft. Further, this recipe requires only 15 – 30 minutes instead of 45-50 minutes, as typically required in a traditional lasagna recipe.
The most important part of this recipe is bringing the layers together in the final cooking stage. In a traditional recipe, the pasta may be precooked and still requires additional time for baking. With the thin, soaked rice pasta, it’s your decision. If you like your vegetable tender and soft, the lasagna requires 30-40 minutes in the oven. For crunchy vegetable lovers like me, you need only grill the surface for a few minutes, and the lasagna is done.
During the assembling process, all the heat captured during preparation will slowly cook the vegetables. The lasagna vegetables are easy and quick to cook. Give the recipes a shot, and your friends will be amazed at your professional cooking skills!
Rice Paper Vegetable Lasagna
- Top layer Sauce
- 500 grams potato,
- 2 tbsp brewers yeast
- 1 tbsp Black salt (Himalayan salt optional)
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp fresh nutmeg grated
- 2 cups water or pineapple skin tea (optional)
- Salt according to taste
- 1st layer of vegetable filling
- 6 sheets of rice paper, (square or round) depending on your baking dish
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil or butter
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp salt and some according to taste
- 1 tsp white/black pepper powder freshly ground
- 1 medium carrot, thinly sliced crosswise
- 300 grams of cabbage, sliced into small squares
- 1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced crosswise
- 2nd layer vegetable filling
- 6 sheets of rice paper
- 500 grams of finely sliced kale
- 1 cup of grated coconut
- 1 cup roasted cashew nuts cracked
- 1 cup of pitted dates pitted
- 500 grams large spinach leaves
- 1 tsp of salt and some as per taste
For sauce layer
To make the top layer for the lasagna, boil the potatoes until fully cooked.
Add all the ingredients needed for the top layer into a blender. Blend until smooth. Separate into two portions and set aside.
1st layer vegetable base
In a medium-sized pan, add the sesame oil and sauté all spices to be used for the base layer.
Add the vegetables for this layer and sauté for 2-3 minutes until half-cooked. Remove from the heat and spread the vegetables in the baking dish.
Now take 6 sheets of rice paper and, one by one, dip in water till soft. Lay the softened rice paper sheets over the vegetables already spread on the tray. Next, spread a thin layer of the potato sauce over the rice paper.
**2nd layer vegetable filling
In a separate medium-sized pan over medium heat, add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, sauté the kale and season with salt.
When the kale partially wilts, add the dates, cashew nuts, and grated coconut and mix. Add the spinach and sauté for about 1-2 minutes.
Spread this mixture evenly over the first layer in the baking dish. Soak the remaining rice paper sheets and lay over this layer. Next, spread the remaining potato sauce over the rice paper thinly.
Place under the grill for 20 minutes before serving.
The rice paper can be purchased at any Asian store. It requires minimum cooking meaning does not need to remain in the oven for an extended period of time. These Vegan recipes require 10 - 20 minutes to grill the surface instead of baking for 45-50 minutes as the traditional lasagna recipes.