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gluten- and dairy-free lasagneYesterday was National Lasagne Day and it almost seemed heresy to create a version that is not classic Italian. But … I did it anyway.

One of my favorite lasagne recipes includes layers of dairy-based goodness: Bechamel sauce, ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan. And then there’s the gluten in pasta and the flour in the Bechamel sauce.  And the animal protein in ground beef/pork and eggs.

How could I possibly create a delish dish sans all this? I almost succeeded in eliminating dairy, gluten and animal protein. I wanted to make homemade gluten-free AND dairy-free pasta, but I haven’t conquered that hurdle yet. I don’t know how to eliminate eggs; what would bind the dough?

I’ve read that some substitutions for egg include tofu, other liquid, banana, applesauce, and flaxseed mixed with water (1 tbs whole flax seeds or use 2 1/2 tbs pre-ground flaxseed and combine with 3 tbs of water to replace one egg). Maybe just add a little more EVOO would do. I’ve got some playing to do.

I decided to start with a simple gluten-free pasta recipe. Using a gluten-free flour and xanthum gum, the dough required lots of kneading and several passes through the pasta roller. Getting the right amount of moistness is an art. If you find that the pasta is cracking/ripping/shredding when being passed through the roller, stop and add a bit more water to the dough.

Using fresh pasta rather than dry eliminates the need to parboil. The end result is lasagne sheets that hold up to cooking without drying. There’s no need to worry about crusty pasta. Nothing beats fresh, and I found that I prefer flat lasagne sheets vs. curly edges.

Next hurdle: Get rid of the dairy. It seemed unorthodox and just plain wrong to replace ricotta with tofu, but it worked. I hardly missed the omission of mozzarella and Parmesan. I suppose the non-dairy Parmesan that hubby used to buy (until I convinced him to only use freshly-grated) might work, if you must have more flavor. Same with the vegan shredded cheese options. Personally I don’t think any of these are needed.

I added a layer of veggie “meatballs” to the recipe for added texture and more on the side. My daughter LOVED the meat-less balls. (She didn’t eat the lasagne; she still has a thing against green.)

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