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Vegetable Lasagna With Cashew Ricotta and Marinated Portabella
Café Muse's best-selling entree. (Bart Nagel photo)
 

Vegetable Lasagna With Cashew Ricotta and Marinated Portabella

For 1 serving:

6 small or 3 large zucchini
4 cups raw, unsalted organic cashews, soaked overnight
2 tsp. fine or extra-fine celtic sea salt
1 bunch fresh basil
2 cups sun-dried tomatoes, soaked overnight in water to just cover. (Dried bulk tomatoes for preference.)
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar (optional)
1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1 large portabella mushroom, sliced about 1 cm thick and marinated overnight in
2 Tbsp. nama shoyu (unpasteurized soy sauce)
filtered or bottled water

Notes on ingredients:
- All ingredients should be organic if possible.
- Sun-dried tomatoes: Rich recommends "the julienned ones you can buy in bulk at the Berkeley Bowl." If you get the oil-packed kind, you don't have to soak them; if they are dry, soaking is a must.
- Portabella mushroom: more nama shoyu can be added to cover if necessary, but mushrooms will quickly shrink and deflate, so they don't have to be entirely covered when first put in to marinate.

1. Thinly slice zucchini lengthwise, to create long, flat noodles. This can be done with a vegetable peeler for ultra-thin noodles, or carefully with a knife for slightly thicker noodles. Discard the first and last narrow slices, which consist primarily of the outer skin. Place noodles in a bowl and drizzle with up to 1/2 cup of the olive oil, and let sit while you prep the other parts of the dish.

2. For ricotta: Place drained soaked cashews in a food processor with an S-blade. Turn on food processor and slowly add fresh, filtered water while the cashews blend, until you have a thick consistency resembling ricotta. It does not have to be completely smooth, and be careful not to water it down too much. You want it solid enough to be able to support several layers of vegetables. When the consistency is right, add the sea salt and half of the bunch of fresh basil — leaves only, finely minced — and blend until combined. Set aside.

3. For marinara: Place soaked sun-dried tomatoes and their soaking water in a blender. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil, optional balsamic, and nama shoyu from the portabella marinade (approximately 2 Tbsp.). Blend at high speed until somewhat smooth but not homogenized. If necessary add more water to create a saucelike consistency. If you wish, blend some of the remaining basil leaves into the mixture. Set aside.

4. To assemble: Spoon several tablespoons of marinara on the serving plate, and use the back of a spoon to spead evenly into a circle 6 inches in diameter. In the center, place three zucchini noodles, side by side, creating a rectangular base, the dimensions of which should be about 3.5 to 4 square inches. Spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of ricotta on top in a thick layer, top ricotta with a layer of portabella slices, then another layer of zucchini noodles, another layer of ricotta, a layer of olives (sliced in half so they lay flat), some marinara, another layer of zucchini, and cover the top with marinara. Garnish with some more olives, some chopped parsley or basil, or any other garnish you choose.

Serve as soon as possible after assembly, before the moisture begins to weigh down the layers and blend the flavors into one another.

© Café Muse, 2004