A carnivore’s apology – or explanation
A reader recently suggested I post some vegan recipes for a change, since almost all my posts about food have involved various animal parts, or their products that they either lay or squirt. A couple of vegan posts, like Margaret’s green beans with sliced almonds, don’t really count because a) they’re small side dishes and b) that particular recipe was pure facetiousness, since the beans came from a can and the almonds were pre-sliced. So I’ve been skewed and corrupted by my own eating habits, which tilt toward richness, flavor, fat, and meatiness, and far away from what I view as vegan-ness.
(Quick side note: my acupuncturist, whom I usually see every two weeks, has repeatedly encouraged me to stay away from fresh, uncooked fruits and veggies, and, not being one to argue with such an expert, I’ve heeded her advice for many days on end with no apparent ill effects. At the other end of the spectrum, my doctor would be appalled to know this, since his office features a poster crammed with fruit and veggie images – 6 to 8 servings a day or some such near-physical impossibility).
The unfortunate story behind the photo
(If you enlarge this, you’ll see watermarks from Dreamstime, one of my stock agency clients. Don’t worry – it’s really my photo, it’s just that I can’t seem to find the original).
Right off the bat you should know: I didn’t make this dish. It was made by a guy who, through one of my friends, heard I was a food photographer and wanted to shoot his lasagna for a vegan cookbook he was preparing. My fee: $50. Fine. He brought it right over and we set up the shot – in our kitchen in Decatur, Georgia. From what I knew of this guy, he was a genius vegan chef in great demand for catering private vegan parties, but he was also quite mad, as geniuses seem so easily to be. He was incapable of managing his own affairs or running his own house, so his older brother did all these things for him – like paying bills. (My $50 arrived in two installments over two months…). During the shoot, he jabbered, often making no sense, and when eventually he left I emitted a lengthy, exhausted exhale of relief. Nice guy, but nuts.
However, we both sampled the poblano lasagna and it was, truthfully, excellent, flavorful but not overpowering, delicate without being wimpy. So here’s a recipe very close to his own, to try to match the photo:
- 1 package vegan lasagna noodles
- 10-12 medium-large poblano chiles: seared on the stove, cooled, peeled, sliced open with seeds and stems discarded
- about 8-10 oz. your preferred vegan feta or “goat” cheese, shredded or crumbled
- about 8 oz. vegan mozzarella-style cheese. shredded
- about 2 cups vegan (tofu) ricotta (about 5 mins. prep)
- olive oil
- minced garlic – about 4 cloves
- other spices to taste: oregano, salt, pepper
Now do these things:
- Cook the lasagna noodles as directed. Rinse and let cool.
- Take half the peeled and seeded poblano chiles, chop coarsely, put in a food processor with a splash of olive oil and/or vegetable broth, the minced garlic and pulse 2-3 times. This will be the sauce on the top.
- Take the other half and cut into thin strips.
- Blend the ricotta and other “cheeses” until smooth. Add parsley flakes if you want.
- Oil a smallish lasagna pan. Now layer in the pan: 1) ricotta/cheese blend mixed with about 1/3 of the poblano chiles cut into strips, 2) lasagna noodles, 3) repeat until your top later is the ricotta/cheese blend.
- Spoon out the pureed poblanos as a sauce for the top. Sprinkle with your spices.
- Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until everything is bubbling nicely.
Variations: If you’re feeling creative, make one of the cheese layers a chees-y vegan bechamel sauce. You can also add diced tomatoes or sauteed mushrooms to any layer.
(photo by Stef Yau, via Wikipedia)
So, is it hot?
Nope, not at all. The poblano pepper is really the same as the ancho pepper, and is quite low on the Scoville scale: about 1/5 the kick of a jalapeno, and roughly the same as an Anaheim pepper.
There you have it. Have a great weekend, all! Need a good read? See below…