Cashew Cheese & Eggplant Quinoa Stack
Italian themed food is typically considered the nemesis of the gluten-free and the plant-based of the world. However, when you substitute all the ingredients except the tomatoes, it's totally doable! (Please note the sarcasm in this statement). This stack is a play on a lasagna, only we're using quinoa, cashew cheese and fresh eggplant. It's oil-free, vegan, and can even be soy-free depending on the type of miso you use.
Thanksgiving break was a well spent four days of hiking, running, and playing in the kitchen. I made so many new recipes and didn't write any of them down or take a single photo. This is becoming an ongoing theme in my life. I throw something together, convince myself it won't be that special, then as we're eating it I realize it's blog-worthy, but it's way too late to do anything about it. So, I scribble down the ingredients and figure "I'll come back to this one!" I probably will, sometime in the next five years. The other notable thing that happened this Thanksgiving is that Colorado Parks & Wildlife asked if they could reshare one of my Instagram Photos, and Pip became super famous for a day. Good news, nobody will recognize him in public on account of his face not being visible in the photo.
So just know that I made really delicious food. Maybe one day you'll hear about it, if I ever get the hang of this whole blogging thing. Speaking of not getting the hang of this blog, the recipe below is something I made on October 4th and then saved as a draft for two months, which is actually pretty handy considering the whole Thanksgiving snafu. Read below for how to prep!
What You Need:
One cup dry quinoa, prepared (Makes 3 cups rehydrated--mix the cup with two cups of water and boil it like you would rice!)
One medium sized eggplant, thinly sliced
One jar of tomato sauce (Muir Glen makes great non-GMO, organic, no added sugar jars that aren't super expensive.)
For the cashew cheese:
1 1/2 cups of raw cashews, soaked for 3 hours and drained
Handful of fresh basil
Two garlic cloves
1 tablespoon Miso
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup water
This recipe does require forethought as you need to soak the cashews for three hours prior to cooking.
Another step to consider is pre-slicing your eggplant (I used a mandolin) and letting it sit in a solution of 3 cups water to two tablespoons salt for an hour or more. This isn't necessary for all eggplants, but if the eggplant has a brown tint inside it means the seeds are letting off a bitter liquid that isn't especially palatable. The salt water solution will draw this out.
When your cashews and eggplant are ready, follow the steps below:
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
Boil your quinoa on the stovetop, pressure cooker, etc.
Rinse your eggplant slices, and make sure they are dry
Combine your cashew cheese ingredients and pre-mix this with the quinoa. It should be a pretty soggy mixture as it will dry out slightly in the oven, so if it seems too dry add a little water
Open your tomato sauce (Maybe let the non-cook in the house do this one so they can feel involved in the process?)
In an oven-safe casserole dish, layer your ingredients! I put eggplant on the bottom, then quinoa, then tomato sauce, then eggplant again...I'm not so sure the order matters, but having the last layer be marinara is key as it will keep the entire dish more moist
Bake for 25-30 minutes
This is a pretty easy recipe to modify--you can tuck some basil in between the layers, some meat if you're a meat eater, or you can get super fancy and add other vegetables. Let me know what you come up with!