Vegan Lasagna with Lentils & Farming the Yard (Part 4)

I’m not messing around today. We’re going to jump right into a fabulous Vegan Lasagna w/ Lentils recipe I found at noracooks.com. I can’t take credit for adding lentils to the marinara sauce. Brilliant! But, I did tweak it a bit by making my own red sauce, using the green french lentils instead of the red lentils, and I replaced the spinach with the chard from our  garden. So here it goes.

Vegan Lasagna w/ Lentils Ingredients

Serves: 8

Prep time: 40 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour


  • 1 cup dried lentils (red or green)
  • 3 14.5 oz. chunked tomatoes
  • ½ cup diced white or yellow onion
  • 1 tbs. vegan-butter
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. sugar

Homemade Cashew-Tofu Ricotta

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 16 ounce firm tofu, patted dry with paper towels
  • ½ cup Anthony’s nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbs. fresh lemon juice from about 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 2-3 cups chard chopped
  • 1 Box DeBoles Rice Lasagna

Vegan Lasagna w/ Lentils Recipe

  • First cook your lentils in 3 cups of water in a medium pot.
  • Bring to boil, and then simmer for about 30 minutes.
  • Pour tomatoes into a pretty large skillet. Add the onions,vegan butter, tomato paste, red wine and salt. With a potato masher, mash the tomatoes until you have a nice thick sauce. Simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  • When lentils are soft, drain and add to tomato sauce.
  • Preheat the oven 350 degrees.
  • Pour your raw cashews into a food processor or blender. Process until fine and crumbly. Then add the tofu in chunks, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, basil, oregano, and garlic powder to the food processor. Pulse until pretty smooth.

Assembling the Lasagna:

  • Add 1 cup of the sauce, to the bottom of a large 9 x 13 casserole dish. Spread evenly.
  • Add 4-5 lasagna noodles (uncooked).
  • Spread half of the Cashew-Tofu Ricotta on top of the noodles. Top half of the chard or spinach.
  • Add about 1 Cup of the sauce over the chard, then place the 4-5 noodles on top.
  • Spread the rest of the Ricotta over the noodles, then the rest of the chard.
  • Place 4-5 more noodles on top of the chard, and then pour the rest of the sauce over the top, evenly.
  • Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 1 hour. Let cool at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Nora Cooks, really loves her family and shows it by taking the extra step and making her own vegan mozzarella cheese. I on the other hand just sprinkled the store bought vegan mozzarella shreds over the top of the lasagna the last 20 minutes. Be sure to remove tin-foil. I know, I know this is quite a recipe, but last night we ate the leftovers with a side of sauteed blessed zucchini; fabulous! And I have enough for lunch today 🙂

Farming the Yard (Part 4)


left off last week with our venture into growing grapes and brewing varietal wine grape juice. After Rick read it, he wanted me to add; once it’s been bottled, the juice has to be refrigerated. And he didn’t think I made it clear that after we bought the buckets of Pinot and Sandgiovese grape juice, we pasteurized and bottled it. Just in case you’re thinking of doing the same. 🙂

We lived in, and farmed our modern house for ten years. 

And then, the mid-century modern house craze happened. The Muir’s for the first time were in the right place at the right time, you know the saying; “know when to hold them, know when to fold them and know when to walk out the door.” We put our house on the market, and it sold in a bidding war in four days. Our kids thought we had lost our minds; “what the hell are you guys doing?” Especially, after we stored everything and moved into a little apartment. What a fun chapter that was. We spent weekends traveling down the coast of California and all the way up to the very tip of the State of Washington looking at small farms where we could plant a small vineyard.

Our six month search, ended with us buying a house, part of which was built in 1887. It sits at the top of a hill surrounded by an apron of 70 acres, of 145 year old olive trees. After the big hunt, crazily the house is less than fifty miles from where we started, in the foothills half-way between San Francisco and Tahoe. The house was covered in wisteria and moss covered wooden shingles, but the  ground was perfect for planting a small vineyard. We both could see in our minds eye where the grapes were going to go. And I knew it would take at least three years before we saw a single grape. So the mission changed from finding a place, to doing the hard, hard work getting the dirt prepared to be planted.

Speaking of plants, we had to find some vines pronto. In the search for some rootstock; 31 vines to be exact, I stumbled onto Guillaume Grapevine Nursery. Guillaume pronounced, (ge (long e) ome (long o). “The Guillaume family has been grafting vines in Charcenne, France for more than a century. The origin of the nursery goes back to a time when the Franche-Comte’ region had to rebuild it’s vineyard following the phylloxera crisis. In 1895, Albert Guillaume started grafting vines and set up a nursery selling planting material in several wine-producing regions of France.”

I bought our vines from Alberts great grandson, Francois.

When I called, I could hear the pause from the office manager after telling her we needed 31 vines. After being put on hold, she came back and said they were a wholesale operation and they didn’t usually handle such small lots. But she invited me to come on out and they would show me the goods. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, but drove the hour and half drive along the Sacramento River north of Sacramento in the middle of orchard land.

Francois pronounced, (Fran short a) swa) came out and met me at our truck. He wasted no time as we walked back through huge metal buildings topped with gigantic fans moving the air. The newly grafted rootstock was stacked in piles tagged with flags printed with the variety and age. He asked me where I was going to plant and what kind I needed. I told him we were in the foothills at 1500 feet elevation and asked what he would recommend. He suggested Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.

As we sat in his office, he asked me in his beautiful accent, if I had ever grown wine grapes before. I told him about our little suburban farm. And our venture into brewing non-alcoholic wine. That information literally threw him to the back of his chair. He said, “quelle?” It didn’t take a genius to know he was asking, “What?” So, I explained to him about Ricks sobriety and our quest to create a tasty adult beverage. By the look on his face, I could tell if he’d known that before, I’m not sure he would have sold me the grapes.

He asked, what did we do with the skins after we crushed the grapes? 

I leaned forward and asked him what he’d do. He said, “put the skins, seeds and stems in a black garbage bag in a garbage can, put that in the back of your house. Once a day, have the kids take a large paddle stir the mash, this done for around twelve days.” He held me in the palm of his hands as I listened to the melody of his voice and also thought about the bags of skins we had thrown out over the years. And then this, “after the mash is good and fermented, you distill into a fine, “acquaville d’uva” he said, kissing his finger tips.

He didn’t get the part, “Rick doesn’t drink alcohol.” 

I laughed, as I drove home with little baby vines tucked into the seat next to me and fantasized our coming up with an alcohol free grappa. If anyone could do it, so could we.

I’ll leave you with our thirst quenching, Pinot Noir Spritzer recipe:

  • 1 16 oz. clear glass, filled with a handful of ice
  • ½ cup varietal wine grape juice, in this picture, we used our Pinot Noir. Note the light blush color.
  • 1 ½ cups sparkling water
  • ½ tsp. fresh squeezed lime or lemon juice
  • Garnish with a sprig of mint

Speaking of French, I made the fish stew recipe which was featured in the previous blog;  Bruno and Clio’s Fennel Fish Stew. I wouldn’t normally make a fish stew with the temp outside being 97 degrees. But yesterday Rick told me there was a big fennel needing to be harvested from the garden. And then I saw the crisp white cod laid out on a bed of ice at the store, ‘magnifique

Au revoir 🙂


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