Beloved plant-based chef Terry Hope Romero’s latest cookbook, Vegan Eats World: 300 International Recipes For Savoring The Planet arrived at BUST HQ at the perfect time. I’m gearing up for my third Thanksgiving as a vegan, and though I usually can get very elaborate, preparing multiple cruelty-free offerings to share with my family from the comfort of my mom’s kitchen, this year I need to find a dish that can be made ahead of time, travels well, doesn’t require much additional prep on the big day, and isn’t “too weird” before I hit the road to share the holiday with some totally carnivorous relatives.

Vegan Eats World is an incredible compendium of tastes from virtually every culture on the planet, and I had a blast trying out new spices and flavor profiles on my quest for the perfect holiday entrée. Pistachio Date Quinoa Salad from the Middle East, Whole Cashew Curry from Sri Lanka, and Sweet and Savory Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos (a genius fusion of South Asian and Mexican cuisine) all made my palate sing. But once I tried Romero’s Greek Eggplant Lasagna (Pastichio “Vegani”), I knew I’d hit the jackpot. Casseroles almost always make it from point A to B intact, all they require is a little lovin’ from the oven before they’re ready to serve, and this one can do double duty as my main meal and as a savory starchy side to accompany the hosts’ turkey. Most importantly, it’s freakin’ delicious. When I got home the night after making it and discovered the leftover pastichio I had planned to eat for dinner had already been completely devoured by my omnivorous boyfriend, this recipe sealed the deal.

Greek Eggplant Lasagna

(Pastichio “Vegani”)

Makes a large casserole serving 6 to 8

*See end of recipe for eggplant directions

 

Pastichio is the Greek answer to lasagna: a tomato-kissed

filling is sandwiched between two layers

of chewy, tube-shaped pasta, then topped with a

creamy bechamel-like sauce and baked to golden

brown perfection. Pastichio is Greek holiday or party

food, great for sharing or hoarding the tasty leftovers

all to yourself. This “vegani” version is bursting

with mushrooms, roasted eggplant, and a luscious,

creamy cashew topping.

 

The pasta traditionally for pastichio is a long,

smooth, hollow, tube-shaped pasta. This Greek pasta

may be tricky to locate outside of specialty markets;

look for the Misko brand and grab a bag of “Macaroni

#2.” Beyond that, Italian bucatini-style pasta is

a close second, with smoothly textured penne tubes

at third place.

 

Like the original pastichio, this dish is prepared in

stages and best reserved for weekends or a luxurious

evening in the kitchen; but if you like to unwind after

a workday in the kitchen (you know who you are), this

project is for you. Comforting, filling pastichio is best

served with a simple green salad.

 

Silken Almost-Bechamel Topping

1 cup unroasted, unsalted cashews

1 pound silken tofu, drained

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, plus additional

nutmeg for sprinkling

 

Mushroom Filling

10 ounces brown (cremini) mushrooms

1 large onion, peeled and finely minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/2 cup dry red wine

1 pound roma tomatoes, cores and seeds

removed, diced fine, or two 14-ounce

cans diced tomatoes

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon sea salt (use 1/2 teaspoon if using

canned tomatoes)

a few twists of freshly cracked pepper

 

Pasta

1 pound uncooked greek tube-shaped pasta,

italian bucatini, or smooth penne pasta

3 quarts (12 cups) water

3 tablespoons kosher salt

4 tablespoons nonhydrogenated vegan

margarine

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup plain soy milk

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon cornstarch

olive oil to grease pan

 

1. Prepare the topping first: cover the cashews with

hot water and soak for 1 hour or overnight until

soft and plump and then drain away the water. Puree

the cashews with the remaining topping ingredients

in a blender or food processor until creamy, scraping

the sides of the blender jar occasionally with a rubber

spatula. Depending on how powerful the blender

is this may take 1 to 4 minutes. Set topping aside

while you prepare the other ingredients.

 

2. To make the filling, remove the stems from the

mushrooms and dice the caps into small, 1/2-

inch pieces. In a 12-inch stainless-steel skillet over

medium heat, fry the onion in the olive oil for 4 minutes

or until soft, then stir in the garlic and fry for

30 seconds. Stir in the mushrooms and cook for 6

minutes, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms

have reduced in bulk and most of their liquid has

been absorbed. Pour in the red wine and add the

tomatoes, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, cinnamon, and

salt; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and

remove and discard the bay leaf. Cook for 2 minutes

and taste the filling; add more salt if desired and a

few twists of freshly cracked black pepper. Turn off

the heat and set aside.

 

3. While the mushroom mixture cooks, boil 3

quarts of water and stir in 3 tablespoons of kosher

salt. Stir in the pasta and cook according to package

directions to an al dente consistency (firm and tender

to the bite but not mushy), about 7 to 9 minutes.

Drain in a large colander and rinse with plenty of

cold water, then set the colander above the sink or a

large bowl and drain while making the sauce.

 

4. Preheat the oven the 375°F and generously rub

the insides of a 9 x 13 x 2-inch metal or ceramic

lasagna pan with olive oil. In the pot you cooked

the pasta in, melt the margarine over medium heat,

then sprinkle in the flour. Cook the flour roux mixture

until it’s bubbling and a pale golden color, about

4 to 6 minutes; stir constantly. Whisk in half of the

soy milk and continue 1 to 2 minutes until the sauce

thickens, then turn off the heat. Stir in the nutritional

yeast, lemon juice, and salt. In a cup whisk

together the remaining half of the soy milk with the

cornstarch and whisk into the sauce until smooth.

Add the drained pasta and stir vigorously to coat

every piece with the sauce.

 

5. Firmly press two-thirds of the pasta evenly on

the bottom of the lasagna pan, then top with the

mushroom filling. Spread the remaining pasta over

the mushrooms. The pasta will not completely cover

the filling; don’t worry, you’ll be covering everything

with the cashew topping. Use a rubber spatula and

spread the cashew topping over the pasta completely

to the edges of the pan. Sprinkle the top with a big

pinch of grated nutmeg and bake uncovered for 26

to 28 minutes or until the top feels somewhat firm.

Now heat the oven broiler on high and broil the pastichio

for 3 to 4 minutes or until browned in spots—

that authentic Greek casserole touch!

 

6. Let the pastichio cool for 10 minutes, then slice it

into big squares with a thin sharp knife and use a

bent spatula to lift out individual servings. Pastichio

is the ideal dish to prepare the day before serving; to

reheat cover with foil and bake at 350°F for 20 to 25

minutes or until the center is hot.

 

Mushroom Eggplant Pastichio: Roasted eggplant

in the mushroom filling is doubly delicious and I’ll

admit this is an extra step in an already involved process.

But if you love eggplant, you must try this!

Between making the topping and preparing the

filling, preheat the oven to 375°F and line a large baking

sheet with parchment paper.

Remove the stems from 1 1/2 pounds of purple

globe eggplant and dice it into 1-inch cubes. Toss

the eggplant with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle

with a little sea salt, and roast it for 25 minutes, stirring

occasionally until the edges of the eggplant are

browned and the cubes have softened. Turn off the

oven, remove the eggplant, and let cool.

Stir the roasted eggplant into the mushroom

filling after the final simmer, stirring thoroughly to

coat the eggplant with the sauce.

 

From Vegan Eats World: 300 International Recipes for Savoring the Planet by Terry Hope Romero. Reprinted courtesy of Da Capo Lifelong Books.

Tagged in: Vegan Eats World, Vegan, thanksgiving, terry hope romero, recipe   

The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.




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