That’s Not Lasagna or Lasagne in Lent

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I made “Its NOT Lasagna” for my family today. It looked like lasagna but it was gluten-free, nightshade-free  and cow’s-milk-cheese-free . They had two helpings of “Its NOT Lasagna” –if you could call the portion they took initially a serving. I used commercially available gf noodles, home made hamburger and pumpkin sauce, and three different kinds of goat cheese.

It could be argued that tomato sauce based lasagnas are not lasagna either if you are a big food history nerd, like myself. Which I did.

I’ve made a vegan lasagna from Libro de Cucina (14th century) before.

Walnut Lasagne
If you want to make lasagne in lent, take the lasagne (wide pasta noodles) and put them to cook (in water and salt). Take peeled walnuts and beat and grind them well. Put them between the lasagna (in layers), and guard from smoke (while reheating). And when they go to the table dress them with a dusting of spices and with sugarLibro di cucina

Ingredients
* 1 package of fresh lasagna noodles, or 1 package of dried cooked to soften
* 3 cups of walnuts, ground
* 1 cup raw cane sugar
* 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
* 1 tsp ginger, ground
* 1/2 tsp cloves, ground

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.

  2. Place a sheet of parchment paper in a lasagna pain or grease pan.

  3. Put a layer of noodles on pan, cover noodles with 1.5 cups of walnut meal. Cover the walnut layer with another pasta layer, and then repeat with 1.5 cups of walnut meal. Cover last layer with noodles. Brush top crust with oil or almond milk.

  4. Bake for 45 minutes, until  top is golden. Remove from oven and evenly cover top of pie with sugar and spices. Serve hot or cold.

  5. Optional, but not strict to original recipe, mix sugar or honey and spices in with walnuts to bake. 

There are other version from the 14th and 15th century, no tomatoes, just layers and cheese. Helewyse at medievalcookery.com compiled a fantastic list of different Italian recipes from the 14th-15th century. No tomatoes, but real lasagna.

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For Vegetarian or Fast Days

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Between famines, fasting, food intolerances, feeling ill and penance there are a number of reasons why a noble or peasant alike would refrain from eating certain dishes at different times.

To find vegetarian recipes look through cook books with an eye out for the following phrases: “in Lent,” “in Ember Day,” “for fast days,” “for fish days,” “in Quadragesima,” “in jejunio,” “incipit servicium de piscibus.” During Lent (from Ash Wednesday through Good Friday) and during some fast days animal products and dairy are forbidden.

Although you can use modern substitutions in period recipes with great success (for example tofu instead of chicken) Rupert de Nola has other advice for substitutions: “Although the victuals that you can make for meat days are infinite, many of them can be made in Lent, because in the chapters on those victuals where I say to dissolve them with meat broth, those sauces or pottages can be dissolved with salt and oil and water, but first you have to give it a boil. And in this manner it is as good as meat broth if it is well tempered with salt and if the oil is very fine, and in this manner, many victuals which are put forth for meat days can be made in Lent.” 

The following meatless recipes are different than just using salted water instead of beef broth. The Mock-Omelette is a crazy substitution idea I never would have thought of. The Walnut Lasagna tastes like baklava. The pie is like minced meat pie we eat modernly.

Mock Omelette
Herb omelet in lent.
If you want to make a herb omelet for lent with oil. Take the herbs, that is spinach, beet (leaves, or swiss chard), parsley, mint and marjoram, a little peeled (stems removed) and well washed and put them to boil. When they are almost cooked strain out the water and then squeeze it out with your hands, then chop them with a knife, and beat them with a mallet. Then put them in a pottery pan (pignata) and fry them with oil and with as much salt as is enough. Then put a little of the boiling water above, and close the vessel and see that it is well closed, and pull the pan to the back (of the fire) and let it rest. When it is ready to go to the table dish it up and powder with spices above. Libro di cucina

Ingredients
* 4 cups of baby spinach, washed, stems removed
* 4 cups beet greens or swiss chard or kale, washed stems removed
* 1/4 cup parsley, (large handful) washed stems removed
* 2 branches mint, washed, stems removed
* 1 branch marjoram, washed stems removed
* salt to taste
* oil for cooking
*pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Submerge all the herbs and leafy greens into the pot. Reduce heat and simmer until greens are fully wilted, approximately 4 minutes. Strain greens, squeezing extra moisture out, reserving 1/4 cup of the ‘broth’.
  2. Chopped the wilted greens with a knife until small and then pound it with your cooking hammer until you can make veggie-patties when it is all mixed together. Add salt and then shape into 4-6 patties.
  3. Heat a frying pan on medium, and add oil. Gently lay fragile patties onto oil and fry them 5 minutes on one side and then just to brown on other. Serve hot–if not serving right away pour the reserved liquid into pain, cover and remove from heat until ready to serve.

Walnut Lasagne
If you want to make lasagne in lent, take the lasagne (wide pasta noodles) and put them to cook (in water and salt). Take peeled walnuts and beat and grind them well. Put them between the lasagna (in layers), and guard from smoke (while reheating). And when they go to the table dress them with a dusting of spices and with sugarLibro di cucina

Ingredients
* 1 package of fresh lasagna noodles, or 1 package of dried cooked to soften
* 3 cups of walnuts, ground
* 1 cup raw cane sugar
* 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
* 1 tsp ginger, ground
* 1/2 tsp cloves, ground

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Place a sheet of parchment paper in a lasagna pain or grease pan.
  3. Put a layer of noodles on pan, cover noodles with 1.5 cups of walnut meal. Cover the walnut layer with another pasta layer, and then repeat with 1.5 cups of walnut meal. Cover last layer with noodles. Brush top crust with oil or almond milk.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes, until  top is golden. Remove from oven and evenly cover top of pie with sugar and spices. Serve hot or cold.
  5. Optional, but not strict to original recipe, mix sugar or honey and spices in with walnuts to bake. 

Fruit Pie (lesche Fried in Lent)
Draw a thick almond milk with water. Take dates and pick them clean with apples and pears and mince them with prunes damsons. Take out the stones out of the prunes and carve the prunes in two. Add raisins, sugar, ground cinnamon, whole mace and cloves, good powders and salt. Colour them up with saunders. Mix these with oil, make a coffin as thou did before and do this therin. And bake it well and serve it forth. Forme of Cury

Ingredients
* 3/4 cup almond milk
* 1.5 cups apples, peeled, cored and chopped small
* 1 cup pears, peeled, cored and chopped small
* 3/4 cup of dates, stones removed, chopped small
* 1/2 cup of prunes, stones removed, chopped small
* 1/4 cup raisins
* 3/4 cup raw cane sugar
* 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
* 1 mace flake, ground
* 1/2 tsp cloves, ground
* 1/2 tsp ginger, ground
* pinch of salt
* 2 tbsp almond oil or pine nut oil
* Pastry for top and bottom of a pie

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  2. Mix all ingredients, except pastry, together, and pour into pie crust. Cover pie with second crust and brush pastry with and leftover almond milk or oil in your mixing bowl, poke a few slits into crust with knife. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until pie is golden and bubbling. Serve once it has cooled.
  3. Optional: make pie without top crust, or two less dense pies. Cook for less time.