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Dairy Free Lasagna

This dairy free lasagna is based off of traditional Italian lasagna and is just as rich and flavorful. However, it is made without cheese, without milk, and without butter.

dairy free Italian lasagna on a white marble counter

Lasagna is a considered a special dish for Sunday dinners in Italy.

The oldest written record of lasagna dates back to 1282 in Bologna, Italy. Shortly there after, it appeared in a Neapolitan cookbook and used cheese curd as filling instead of meat.

Over the centuries, lasagna has developed not only into how we know it today, but also into different variations throughout Italy. However, most if not all of these variations call for a ragu which a sauce made with a meat base.

The most famous versions is from Bologna. It is made of layers of green lasagna noodles, a bolognese sauce, and béchamel sauce sprinkled with cheese.

Outside of Bologna this version is commonly known as lasagna alla bolognese.

American lasagna uses regular lasagna noodles, ricotta cheese instead of Béchamel sauce sprinkled with grated cheese, and often only ground beef instead of a mixture of meats.

While this dairy free lasagna is very close to traditional lasagna alla bolognese, it has been adapted from an authentic Italian recipe.

However, now it not only dairy free but it also no longer calls for homemade spinach lasagna noodles and the only meat used is ground beef.

IS KOSHER MEAT BETTER?

Yes and no.  It is not necessarily healthier as far as bacteria is concerned, since bacteria can only safely be killed with heat.  What is better is the quality of the meat.

The salting process used to remove blood, as part of the koshering process, is believed to provide better quality meat.  It creates a sort of quick dry brine.

Also, kosher animals are kept in better conditions than not kosher animals due to strict kosher heath requirements of the animals.  They are also killed in arguably more humane conditions.

While I’ve only eaten kosher meat (so I cannot compare), I’ve been told by non-Jews who do not keep kosher that they’ve noticed that kosher meat is of superior quality to cook with.

SHOULD YOU WASH MEAT?

According to the USDA you should not wash chicken or meat because washing it spreads bacteria throughout the kitchen.

Water can splash bacteria up to 3 feet surrounding your sink, including onto counter tops, other food, towels and you (i.e. cross contamination).

study done by Drexel University shows that it is best to move meat and poultry directly from package to pan.  The heat from cooking will kill any bacteria that may be present.

One exception would be if there are bone fragments or residue from giblets, as in a roasting chicken. In that case, feel free to rinse if you like.  However, make sure you wipe down your sink afterwards.

HOW CAN I CLEAN MY MEAT WITHOUT WASHING IT?

If you want to clean your meat without washing it, wipe it down with a wet paper towel. This will remove anything other than bacteria.

Just make sure the paper towel doesn’t touch anything else and to toss the paper towel right away.

HOW TO DEFROST MEAT

IN THE FRIDGE

This method is the most highly recommended. Meat typically takes at least a full day to thaw. Once thawed, the poultry can remain in the refrigerator for a day or two before cooking.

IN COLD WATER

This should take two to three hours.  Submerge your sealed meat in a pot or bowl full of cold water.  Change out the water every 30 minutes or so. 

Do not use warm or hot water.  It is unhealthy to do so, can start cooking your meat, and doesn’t do so evenly.

COOK IT FROZEN

According to the USDA, you can cook frozen meat.  It will take 50% longer to cook, but it’s an option.  You should also cook it on a roasting rack or over vegetables so the heat can circulate around the meat.

IS IT SAFE TO REFREEZE RAW MEAT

If you have extra raw meat that you didn’t use but want to refreeze, you can as long as it was thawed in the fridge.

According to the USDA “food thawed in the refrigerator is safe to refreeze without cooking.”  However, you do lose quality when refreezing previously defrosted meat. 

Every time you defrost meat, it loses moisture through thawing which also leads to a loss in flavor.  To compensate for this, marinate the meat to add more flavor and juice.”

The USDA also says not to “refreeze any foods left outside the refrigerator longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F.”

HOW TO STORE

Once cooled, place in an air tight container and refrigerate. Store for 3 to 4 days.

HOW TO FREEZE

Freeze leftovers within 3-4 days.  Place in an air tight container or resealable freezer bag. 

Freeze for up to 6 months.  After that it is safe to eat however the quality begins to degrade.

Yield: 8 servings

Dairy Free Lasagna

dairy free Italian lasagna on a white marble counter

This dairy free lasagna is based off of traditional Italian lasagna and is just as rich and flavorful. However, it is made without cheese, without milk, and without butter.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients

Bolognese Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef (450 grams)
  • 10.5 ounces tomato puree (300 grams)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • Chicken stock as needed
  • Salt to taste

Lasagna Noodles

  • 1 box lasagna noodles or five sheets homemade noodles
  • Water for boiling

Béchamel Sauce

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 cups water or dairy free milk, heated
  • Nutmeg to taste
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Drizzle oil in a sauce pan and heat. When ready, sauté chopped onions, carrots, and celery for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add ground beef. Stir and cook until well browned.
  3. Deglaze with red wine. Once the wine is completely evaportated add the tomato puree.
  4. Stir and let cook for two hours with the pot parcially uncovered. Mix from time to time and add stock as needed.
  5. Cook lasagna noodles as directed on the box until al dente. Stir regularly to make sure the noodles don't stuck together.
  6. Heat oil in a sause pan. Wisk in flour a little at a time. Stir for about 2 minutes.
  7. Wisk in milk and bring to a boil.
  8. Lower heat. Add nutmeg and salt to taste and stir for 2 or 3 more minutes.
  9. Pour a thin layer of bechamel sauce on the bottom of a baking pan. Spoon bolognese sause on top of it and cover that with lasagna noodles. Repeat until you have five layers.
  10. Bake in a preheated at 340° F or 170° C for 40 minutes.

Notes

While I kept this recipe as close to the Italian as possible, personally I like doubling the bolognese sauce and halving the béchamel Sauce.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 414Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 336mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 18g

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