I loved every bite of this plant-based lasagna because it combines two cultures I love (Italian and Japanese) with two of their signature ingredients, pasta, and azuki beans, in a simple healthy plant-based dish full of flavors, textures, and colors. All enriched with a creamy sauce spread in every layers – yes, because like any respectable lasagna, here too there are many “leveling”- that binds together all the ingredients.
In this recipe, the characteristic umami flavor of lasagna comes from two particular ingredients: the konbu-based dashi broth and dried shiitake mushroom powder. In Japanese culture, they are the perfect vegan substitutes for the katsuobushi-based dashi broth used in many traditional dishes, but their versatility makes them suitable for modern flavors too.
Fry the onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt in a little olive oil over medium heat until the onions are soft and golden brown. Add the paprika and spring onion slices and fry for another 2-3 minutes.
In a bowl, mash the azuki beans (with the help of a potato masher or fork) and add them to the pan. Stir-fry together with the tablespoon of shiitake powder, for at least 5 minutes.
Cover completely the beans with the konbu dashi, put the lid on, and leave to cook on a low flame for 15-20 minutes.
After this time, pour in the tomato sauce together with the nutritional yeast, rosemary, and bay leaves, stirring everything together. Let it simmer for 20-25 minutes with the lid on, taking care that it does not stick.
In the meantime, prepare the cream which will accompany our azuki “ragout”.
We prepare the white sauce by putting the rice flour, nutritional yeast, mustard, soy milk, and a pinch of salt in a pan over medium heat, and we cook it until the mixture starts to boil, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon to ensure that the mixture remains smooth and does not form lumps.
Continue stirring until our cream becomes thick and elastic. At this point, we remove from the heat and, while continuing to stir to ensure that it remains smooth, we add the spices. (If the cream has become too thick we can add a little more soya milk).
Now, with all the ingredients ready, all we have to do is set the oven to a temperature of 180 degrees and start aseembling the “floors” of our lasagna.
Spread a layer of sauce (I did 2 tablespoons of tomato azuki sauce and 2 tablespoons of white cream) and lay the pasta on top. Continue in this way until all the ingredients are finished.
When you have reached the last layer, sprinkle some nutritional yeast on top and bake for 30-35 minutes until the surface is golden brown and bubbles begin to appear.
Enjoy your meal!