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Author Notes: Remember those kid's books where you got to choose your own adventure? With this recipe, you can choose to go vegetarian or vegan. Either way, the story has a happy ending!
The almond butter adds some depth and nutty flavor to the bean spread, but there's no need to go out and buy a jar if you don't have it - it will still be tasty.
This is a very filling dish. With a salad or other side, you could stretch it to feed 8 people. - crumbs
- 6 Wide lasagna noodles, half cooked*
- 2 cups your favorite thick tomato sauce, plus more for serving if desired
- 1 medium eggplant
- 2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 can great northern beans
- 1-2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
- 2 teaspoons almond butter (optional)
- 1/2 cup fresh herbs (I use basil, parsley, thyme and mint)
- 3/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)
- grated parmesan, for serving
- Slice eggplant about 1/3 inch thick. The idea is for it to be thin, but not so thin that it falls apart after cooking. Sprinkle with salt and let drain on paper towels or clean kitchen towel for 15 minutes or so. Press with the towel to remove excess moisture. If you like your eggplant very tender, pre-cook using the method used here: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/02/all-american-eggplant-parmesan-recipe.html , but reduce cooking time by half.
- Now, make the creamy bean spread. Drain the beans and give them a quick rinse. Then dump them in the food processor along with the garlic, herbs and almond butter. If you really like garlic, use two fat cloves – the amount is up to you. Whirl everything in the processor. If it doesn’t begin to come together in about 30 seconds, add a couple of tablespoons of hot water. Keep processing for another minute or two until it’s completely smooth. The final product should be the consistency of hummus.
- It’s time to get creative and assemble. There are really no rules except you want the pasta & sauce to bookend the casserole on top and bottom. Start with some sauce on the bottom of an 8x8" baking pan, then overlap 3 noodles to cover. Add half the bean spread. Then do a layer of eggplant, one of mushrooms, and one of zucchini. Don’t forget to sprinkle some salt and pepper in there at some point. Spread on some more sauce and repeat the veggie layers. Then spread the rest of the beans. Layer the last 3 lasagna noodles on top and spread some more sauce to top it off. Hopefully your pan is not overflowing at this point. Cover it with tinfoil and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
- It’s time to choose your adventure! Remove the tinfoil from the pan. If you are going vegan, add more sauce if it looks thin and stick it back in the oven for another 15 minutes uncovered. If you can’t live without cheese like me, sprinkle on the mozzarella. Bake uncovered for about 15 minutes until the cheese is golden.
- Now the hard part: remove the casserole from the oven and let cool for at least 20 minutes. If you are trying to impress someone and don’t want it to gloop all over the place when you serve it, let it cool for 30-40 minutes. Serve with extra sauce and parmesan cheese.
- *Boil in salted water for about 4 minutes, until pliable but not quite tender. Or buy those no-boil noodles.