If you love the rich comfort of lasagna but don't enjoy the calories, cholesterol, or expense, try my new Zany Beanzagna. Start a tradition of thrifty, healthy comfort food with this crowd-pleasing casserole. My Taster finally gave the thumbs-up to this recipe, saying "People who say they don't like beans haven't tried this!" Lemon brightens the creamy chickpeas and ground flaxseed holds them together after they are baked. The walnut-and-breadcrumb topping adds crunch that keeps on crunching, even when reheated.
Zany Beanzagna (lemony bean lasagna or strata)
Active time: 25 minutes. Total time: 90 minutes. Yield: 12 servings. Dairy-free, egg-free, heart healthy, vegetarian, vegan.
- 3 cups chickpeas
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
- 1 lemon, zest and juice (or 2 tablespoons juice)
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 3 tablespoons chickpea broth, vegetable broth, or water
- 1 box no-boil lasagna noodles (9 ounces or 255 grams), preferably whole wheat
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion
- 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle or smoked paprika
- one 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- Heat oven to 350°F. Set out a 9-inch by 11-inch baking dish that is at least 2 inches deep.
- Mince garlic for sauce and set aside. Spread olive oil in a medium pot, then heat on medium low. Chop onion and add to pot. Cook onion until soft, about five minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Add garlic and chipotle, stir once, then add crushed tomatoes and oregano. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for at least 5 minutes while you prepare the chickpea filling.
- Put chickpeas, ground flaxseed, lemon juice, tahini, and broth in a food processor fitted with a stainless-steel blade. Process until smooth, about 30 seconds. The bean mixture should resemble a slightly dry, thick hummus. Add more broth if mixture crumbles.
- Ladle a half-cup sauce into the baking dish and spread evenly. Arrange a layer of noodles so they slightly overlap and cover the dish's bottom. Top with sauce and half the bean mixture. Repeat, then top with sauce, a third layer of noodles, and remaining sauce, spread evenly. Make sure all pasta is covered with sauce. Pour any extra sauce along the edges of the dish.
- Cover baking dish with foil, pinching edges so the foil will trap most of the steam. Bake until beanzagna bubbles at the edges, about 40 minutes.
- While beanzagna bakes, mince garlic and mix in a small bowl with walnuts and breadcrumbs. When beanzagna bubbles, take it out of the oven, take off the foil, and quickly sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over the top. Return to oven to bake until center of beanzagna bubbles and breadcrumb topping is lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
- Remove beanzagna from oven and let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Cut into squares and serve hot. Keeps refrigerated for 5 days or frozen for a year.
- Make sauce up to four days ahead.
- Use two 14.5 ounce cans of chickpeas if you don't have homecooked ones on hand. Rinse well, throwing away the liquid used to pack the beans. For the added liquid, use chickpea broth from when you did cook dried ownes, other vegetable broth, or water.
- Freeze serving-size squares for quickest thawing and reheating.