Tag Archives: vegetarian meat

Creamy Pesto Chik’n Lasagna with Artichokes and Sun Dried Tomato Ricotta

Forbidden Rice Blog | Creamy Pesto Chik'n Lasagna with Artichokes and Sun Dried Tomato Ricotta

For as long as I can remember, my mom has always had an ever-growing collection of cookbooks. The extensive collection was (and probably still is) filled with local Hawai’i recipe books, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese cookbooks up the wa-zoo. There were books whose covers were aged, pages stained with various ingredients from when she cooked those particular recipes. When we went to the library, she almost immediately went to the cookbook section to scope out new books as well (a trait I have happily, apparently, inherited).

One of the cookbooks I lovingly recall is the original Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen, first published in the 1970’s.  The book was a gift to my parents when they married, from my grandparents. The original book contains handwritten recipes, colorless, hand-drawn pictures. (There’s a newer version of this cookbook, where color has been added and many of the recipes have been slightly altered.)

My mom had a handful of staple recipes she’d use from the Moosewood Cookbook. The pasta al cavolfiore (or spaghetti with cauliflower) was probably my most frequent request. The broccoli mushroom noodle casserole was another go-to favorite around our house. However, my top favorite recipe — the one I’d get most excited about when I saw the marinara cooking on the stove, and the cookbook laid out on the kitchen counter, was the vegetable lasagna.

A good lasagna is no small feat.  I think every aspect needs to be flavorful, but not so much that one part of the lasagna overpowers another layer of flavor. The following lasagna isn’t one you’ll find in the beloved Moosewood, but it’s a good one! This pesto lasagna is creamy, very filling and most definitely doesn’t lack in flavor.

Forbidden Rice Blog | Creamy Pesto Chik'n Lasagna with Artichokes and Sun Dried Tomato Ricotta

Creamy Pesto Chik’n Lasagna with Artichokes and Sun Dried Tomato Ricotta

Yields 6-10 servings.

1- 16 ounce box lasagna noodles
4 ounces butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
8 ounces prepared basil pesto
1 1/2 cups No-Chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
18 ounces Quorn Chik’n Tenders
1- 19.75 ounce can quartered artichoke hearts
16 ounces whole milk ricotta
2 eggs, beaten
8 ounces sun dried tomatoes, julienned
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 pound part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Forbidden Rice Blog | Creamy Pesto Chik'n Lasagna with Artichokes and Sun Dried Tomato Ricotta

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Working batches, cook the lasagna noodles until they are soft and pliable but not limp, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove the pasta from the boiling water and lay flat on a sheet tray to cool. Set aside until needed.

Prepare the sauce: In a large heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour until a slight paste forms. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the pesto, broth, milk and cream. Occasionally stir until the sauce thickens (6-8 minutes). Whisk in the one teaspoon of granulated garlic, teaspoon of salt, and half teaspoon of pepper. Reduce heat to low until the sauce is needed.

Prepare the Chik’n: In a medium pan, heat the 1/4-cup of olive oil over medium-high. Add in the shallots and minced garlic, then sauté until the shallots soften (3-4 minutes). Add the Quorn Chik’n Tenders and artichoke hearts. Sauté until the tenders are golden brown.

Forbidden Rice Blog | Creamy Pesto Chik'n Lasagna with Artichokes and Sun Dried Tomato Ricotta

Prepare the ricotta: In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, eggs, sun dried tomatoes, teaspoon of salt, parmesan cheese, tablespoon of dried thyme and the tablespoon of granulated garlic. Stir until well combined.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Assemble the lasagna: In the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch deep-dish baking dish, add a couple ladlefuls of sauce and spread out in an even layer. Arrange a layer of the lasagna noodles to completely cover the sauce (4 noodles should work).

Next, add half of the tomato-ricotta mixture, spreading it over the layer of noodles. Add half of the Chik’n over the ricotta layer. Add 1/3 of the sauce over the Chik’n, followed by 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella. Repeat these layers again, then add one more layer of noodles, followed by the remaining sauce, then the remaining mozzarella.

Lightly oil a sheet of foil, then cover the lasagna, oil-side over the cheese. Place the whole pan on a baking sheet (in case of overflow). Bake the lasagna for 1 hour and 15 minutes, removing the foil for the last 15 minutes of cooking. Cool for 15-20 minutes before slicing.




Jamaican Jerk Seitan


It’s officially summer around here. While I enjoy long summer days, filled with sunshine at 5:30 AM well until after 8 PM, already that time is flying by.  I’m looking forward to meals that don’t involve heating my kitchen, or standing at the stove trying to decide whether to leave the windows closed or open, whether it’s hotter in the kitchen or outside. A toss-up these days.

I’m not complaining. Summer means sitting on my front porch to drink my first cup of coffee, wondering if I’ll get a sunburn at 9 in the morning? It means bare feet in long grassy parks. It means swimming in the lake with our dogs. It means picking dinner straight from the garden. It means iced adult cocktails and warm evenings that stay light out past what would’ve been kid-bedtime just days prior. Summer is blue skies for miles and miles, breezy skirts and shorts that unfortunately seem to get shorter the older I get (much to my dismay). This year summer may mean homemade ice cream, homemade pickles, and raw veggie sauces. Summer is too hot for covers, sleeping with the windows open and listening to the late night hustle and bustle of this downtown summer town.

The oncoming summer has also brought peaches to our grocery co-op, an array of fresh peppers I like to examine every time I walk past them. There has already been super sweet watermelon, bright sweet mangoes (even if they don’t come from Oregon and serve mostly as nostalgia for my tropical upbringing). Let’s get into sweet corn, too while we’re at it. And snap peas. I love sugary snap peas. The flavors of this time of year and the open-endedness of summer days easily inspires new dishes to prepare.

I don’t know where the idea for this seitan came from, but I’m glad it did. The sauce is thick, spicy, sweet, tangy, HOT. But I assure you it was also 7-year-old approved, with a side of coconut rice and vanilla rice milk to drink, both serving to calm the spiciness. When you bake the seitan, then slowly allow it to cook further under the broiler, it’s texture becomes very similar to actual meat. It’s chewy, it also falls apart in your mouth, it’s slightly charred along the edges, and it’s got some “pull,” much like real barbequed meat. You don’t have to be vegetarian to enjoy this. I imagine the sauce would be delicious on tofu, tempeh, or even light, mild fish. It’s definitely a new addition to our go-to sauces.


Jamaican Jerk Seitan

Serves 4-6 people.

¼ cup malt vinegar
5 green onions
4 cloves garlic
½ cup fresh hayden mango, cut into chunks (1 medium mango)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
2 cherry bomb peppers or 1 habanero *
1½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
½ cup ketchup
1 pound seitan (NOT ground seitan) **
zest from one lime
¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice

* Remove the seeds and ribs from the peppers for less spice. I left them in and thoroughly enjoyed the heat within this sauce.

** I prefer making my own seitan to any of the store bought versions. I used my chicken-style seitan for this recipe and simply cut it into cutlets about ¼-inch thick.





In a food processor or high-speed blender, combine the vinegar, green onions, garlic, mango, thyme, peppers, soy sauce, oil, allspice, ginger, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, black pepper, and brown sugar. Blend until completely smooth (3-5 minutes).

Stir the ketchup into the sauce, until completely combined.


Arrange the seitan in a large, rimmed dish. Squeeze the lime juice all over the seitan, rubbing it, and the lime zest, into the seitan, using your hands.



Reserve about a ½-cup of the sauce, then pour the rest over the seitan cutlets, turning them to coat both sides. Cover and allow the seitan to be refrigerated at least one hour, up to 24 hours.

Once the seitan has been refrigerated, preheat your oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a large sheet pan. Place the seitan on your prepared pan, arranging them in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes. Brush the seitan with some of the sauce you set aside earlier, then flip the cutlets and bake for another 20 minutes.


Brush the top of the seitan with more of the remaining sauce. Turn your oven on to broil, at the highest temperature you can get, making sure the rack in your oven is on the shelf closest to the broiler. Let the seitan sit under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, then brush with more sauce, flip, and return to the broiler for another 1-2 minutes.

The seitan should char a little on the edges. If it hasn’t by this point, just keep repeating the previous instructions until it does.

Serve hot with steamed rice and/or the vegetables of your choosing.