I’ve made a lot of pasta dishes that are Bill-friendly over the past few years–meaning, I substitute brown rice pasta, whether it’s macaroni, penne or spaghetti, in any pasta dish I make for Bill. But we always lament the fact that there aren’t any brown rice lasagna noodles available. Until now.
It so happened that I had offered to make traditional lasagna for a dinner gathering at a friend’s house so I went to our local grocery store to buy the ingredients. As I rounded the corner of the organic food aisle, there it was: a box of Pasta Joy Brown Rice Lasagna noodles.
Next came the improvisation. What filler should I use instead of ricotta cheese, which comes from a cow, for someone with a cow-dairy allergy? Goat cheese was the obvious answer.
Below is the recipe I came up with to make Wheat-Free, Dairy Free, Lasagna for Bill. And you know what? I actually prefer it over the standard semolina noodles with ricotta cheese!
Wheat-Free, Dairy Free, Lasagna
1 T. olive oil, plus 1 T. for drizzling
1 small red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ lb. ground grass-fed beef
14 oz. canned crushed tomatoes
2 T. tomato paste
½ tsp. dried basil
¼ tsp. dried oregano
1 T. sugar
¼ cup dry red wine (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 box brown rice lasagna (about 12 noodles)
8 oz. goat cheese, softened
1 T. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
½ 10-oz. package frozen spinach, thawed, drained
½ cup grated Pecorino cheese
In large skillet, sauté onion in olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle with salt. Add garlic and stir one minute. Remove from pan and set aside.
Put meat in skillet and brown until crispy.
Drain fat. Return onion-garlic mixture to pan with meat. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano, sugar, wine, salt, and pepper; bring to simmer and cover until ready to assemble lasagna. (Add wine, if desired.) Add water to sauce if it gets too thick.
Meanwhile, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add lasagna noodles. Cook according to directions on box, or slightly less (around 12 minutes).
While noodles are cooking, mix goat cheese and parsley in a bowl.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
(Because there aren’t a lot of noodles in the package, I recommend using a 9×9 baking dish, such as this Le Creuset, or else double the recipe for a standard 9×13 lasagna pan.)
Prepare a 9 x 9 square casserole dish by drizzling olive oil in the bottom and adding a ladle-full of pasta sauce to prevent noodles from sticking.
When noodles are done, drain, then put in a pot with cold water to keep them from sticking as they cool. Drain again.
To assemble lasagna, slide fingers along noodles to remove excess water, then layer them in casserole dish in this order: noodles, goat cheese mixture, spinach, pasta sauce. Since the noodles are so fragile, use any broken ones on the bottom layer first.
Repeat once more, then add one more layer of noodles on top. Ladle the rest of the sauce on the top of the lasagna and sprinkle with Pecorino cheese. Drizzle with olive oil.
Bake, covered with foil, for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes until bubbly but not burned.
A nice accompaniment to lasagna is bread, of course. Instead of a baguette or Italian white bread, why not try Sami’s Bakery Millet & Flax Hot Dog Buns?