4th of July Themed Lunch
July 03 2017

Bree is a full-time software engineer who loves arts and crafts, cooking and baking. She is very passionate about keeping a healthy and happy lifestyle. She strives to keep the work-days bright, colorful and enjoyable with delicious, nutritious and cutely designed lunches, and shares these creations on her Instagram account @bentosbybree.

Summer is here! Time for fun in the sun, lots of ice cream, outdoor gatherings with friends and family, and the ability to get lots of farm fresh produce! And what better way to kick off summer and Fourth of July celebrations than with something extra fresh and delicious to enjoy with your loved ones?

For me, holiday food is always comfort food, whether it’s enjoyed cozied up indoors during Christmas, or outside in the sun for Memorial Day. Sharing those meals with my loved ones always gives me a sense of contentment and security. There’s nothing better than having food that makes you feel good surrounded by the people that make you feel good! I’d like to share one of my all-time favorite comfort food recipes with you for this Fourth of July – my homemade tofu lasagna rolls!

Now I know what you must be thinking – tofu lasagna?! But believe me when I tell you that you would never know there was tofu in it! It adds a lot of extra protein without any meat, gluten or dairy, and still provides that immensely satisfying and decadent comfort food taste.  Paired with farm fresh ingredients, it’s sure to be a hit at any Fourth of July event! Or, make some to bring to work before the holiday weekend – the Bentgo Glass provides a perfect, portion sized serving section that you can actually make and bake the lasagna in, no messy transfer of leftovers and easy to reheat. Give it a try!

I have paired my Fourth of July lasagna rolls with a simple farm fresh salad with star shaped cucumbers and fresh grape tomatoes. My American flag decorations are made out of basil leaves for the stars, and tomato strips and a non-dairy cheese to make up the red and white stripes.

In my Bentgo Glass Snack container, I have a fruit salad with strawberries I picked from a local farm, blueberries, and mint from my own garden, along with a non-dairy yogurt.

Tofu “Ricotta” Lasagna Rolls – Vegan and Gluten Free

** Recipe heavily adapted from Oh She Glows – ‘Jumbo Stuffed Shells’ **

{While I have used gluten free and non-dairy items in this recipe, any alternatives would work just fine! Have fun and experiment!}

Ingredients

  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 celery ribs
  • ½ medium yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup packed fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1-2 cups of packed fresh baby spinach (2 big handfuls)
  • 1 container of firm/extra firm tofu
  • 1 box of gluten free lasagna sheets (I used Tinkyada Joy Rice Pasta sheets)
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1 jar tomato sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Non-dairy cheese for topping (optional – I highly recommend Kite Hill “Ricotta”)
  • Fresh basil for topping (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Using a tofu press, or by wrapping the block of tofu in tea towels and then stacking a few heavy books on top, allow the tofu to be pressed for at least 20 minutes, up to 4 hours in advance. (If doing hours in advance, keep tofu in the fridge)
  2. Once most of the moisture is pressed out of the tofu, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Start cooking your lasagna sheets according to the package directions (deduct 2-3 minutes from the cooking time if using gluten free pasta), and allow to drain and cool slightly, separated from each other to prevent sticking.
  4. In a food processor, combine the garlic, onion, and celery. Pulse until finely chopped. (Alternatively, you can chop by hand).
  5. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic, onion and celery. Add the Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 3-5 minutes until fragrant.
  6. Add the spinach to the pan, and mix around to ensure even cooking and wilting.
  7. While the garlic mixture is cooking with the spinach, add the parsley and the tofu to the same food processor. Pulse until the tofu is crumbled finely and well mixed with the parsley. (Alternatively, you can crumble the tofu by hand for a less creamy texture).    
  8. Add the tofu and parsley mix to the pan, and combine it with the garlic mixture.
  9. Add the nutritional yeast and combine.
  10. Cook for another 8-10 minutes until most of the moisture is gone. Remove the pan from heat.
  11. In an oven safe dish, such as the Bentgo Glass or a glass pie/casserole dish, pour just enough tomato sauce to coat the bottom.
  12. Start making your lasagna rolls by carefully laying out one of your sheets flat onto a workspace. Spoon the tofu mixture onto the sheet and spread it evenly down the length of the pasta. Start at one end of the sheet and roll it up to the other end. Place the roll into the prepared pan.                                                                      
  13. Repeat #10 until all filling and lasagna sheets are used.
  14. Cover the top of the pan with the remaining tomato sauce. Add any other toppings you want to be cooked or melted during baking. 
  15. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.
  16. Top with fresh basil, cheese of your choice, and enjoy! Or, pack it up to bring somewhere later!

What's your favorite comfort food dish to make or enjoy for the Fourth of July? Share in the comments below!

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