Things have slowly returned to normal in our household since I last posted. Illnesses have lingered, but not enough to keep kids from school and Dad from work - with the exception of Nicholas, whose flu morphed into pneumonia, keeping him out of school until today. The snow stayed around for a few days before finally succumbing to more normal fall-like conditions. But the need for comfort food was still there, and a sale on chicken breasts prompted a desire to make a great comfort food, lasagna.
More on that in a moment. But first, I wanted to respond to a couple of comments that were left on some of my posts recently, and thank you for those comments!
First, an anonymous commenter on my article about Vegan Gourmet cheese suggested trying Cheezly brand cheeses. They are imported from Great Britan, and can be ordered online from Vegan Essentials. Cheezly comes in five flavors, and is available for $5.99 for a 6.7 oz. block, or $25.95 for a 2 lb. block, plus shipping. I also just discovered that back in June, Alisa at Go Dairy Free published a review of 4 different vegan cheeses, originally published at www.quarrygirl.com. Included in this review were not only Follow Your Heart and Cheezly, but also Sheese (imported from Scotland) and Teese, made by the Chicago Soydairy. Cheezly came out on top, but it is significantly more expensive than Follow Your Heart.
A second comment, also by an anonymous commenter, was left on my recipe for Shepherd's Pie, asking which brands of instant mashed potato flakes are GFCF. We use Idahoan, which are 100% potatoes with some preservatives, but no added potential allergens. In other threads on the internet I have also seen people recommend the Great Value brand (sold at Walmart) and Betty Crocker Potato Buds, though I have not used either. Note that these are just the base instant mashed potato flakes - those that contain additional flavorings may not be GFCF. As always, read the labels carefully and check with the manufacturer if you have any questions.
Now, on to lasagna!
With lasagna, there are two things that can be GFCF nightmares - the pasta and the cheese. The former is quite simple to overcome - GF pasta makers like Tinkayada make rice-based lasagna noodles that can be prepared just like wheat-based noodles. Or, in our case, we used DeBoles rice lasagna noodles, which are nice because you don't have to precook them; just layer them in the pan with the rest of the ingredients and bake!
Then there's the cheese, which is always a challenge. As far as I know, no one makes a CF ricotta cheese substitute commercially. If you surf the web, you will find many people making a "ricotta cheese" using a tofu base. I've also seen some using miso as a base, and I actually tried this one time, but the flavor was just not agreeable in my opinion, or the kids for that matter.
Then the solution - why do you need to use a ricotta-type CF filling? My kids love the Follow Your Heart mozzarella cheese, so why not just use it? Which is just what I did.
This is a really simple recipe - the hardest part is cooking the chicken. And while we just used the basics, there is no reason why other things couldn't be added, like your favorite veggies in a layer (my wife personally thinks a little onion and garlic would be a great addition). And while you don't get the creaminess of ricotta, using the Follow Your Heart cheese gave the dish a sort of rustic look, and a dish that had my kids screaming for seconds. And that's what matters the most.
1 - 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 - 3 breast halves) 8 - 12 oz. GFCF tomato sauce (I used Classico Tomato and Basil) 1/2 - 1 package DeBoles Rice Pasta noodles (no precooking required) 1 8oz. package Follow Your Heart Mozzarella CF Cheese, shredded 3 tbsp. olive oil salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Prepare the chicken. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Season the chicken liberally on both sides with salt and pepper. Place in the pan and cook about 4 - 5 minutes on both sides. Remove the chicken and slice into thin (1/8") pieces. If the chicken is not completely cooked through return the slices to the pan for a minute or two until chicken is finished cooking.
Assemble the lasagna. Spray a 13"x9"x2" pan with cooking spray. Place a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of noodles, making sure to seat them in the sauce. Add another layer of tomato sauce on top of the noodles. Next, place half the chicken on to of the sauce, then half the cheese on top of the chicken. Repeat the noodle, sauce, chicken, and cheese layers.
Bake. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Let stand for a few minutes before cutting into squares and serving.