Who doesn’t love a good lasagna? It’s the ultimate comfort food in our house too. This version is 100% plant based but still has all the flavour of a traditional lasagna. Don’t be intimidated by the “make your own” ricotta cheese layer. Once you do it once, you’ll have it mastered for next time. It’s the secret ingredient that gives this dish it’s creaminess and another layer of flavour that won’t have you missing anything. Your body will thank you for it.
Plus I love lasagna because it feeds our whole family for one dinner and then there’s enough leftovers for tomorrow nights dinner too. Gotta love that!
1 onion diced
1 package of firm or extra firm organic tofu
1 glass jar of your choice pasta sauce (I like tomato basil, roasted red pepper or mushroom)
Handful of chopped fresh basil (optional)
Sautee onion in a pan for a few minutes on medium heat. Open package of tofu, drain the water and dry it lightly with paper towel. Crumble in the tofu with your hands, breaking it into small chunks (it will resemble ground meat if that’s what you’re used to). Cook the onion and tofu in the pan until it starts to brown. If it’s not browning don’t worry. Sometimes mine seems to go from white to black awfully quickly so just add the pasta sauce before the onions start to burn. Dump the whole jar of pasta sauce in and stir to combine. Turn off the heat. Set aside. At this point you can also add in a handful of chopped fresh basil leaves for extra flavour if like.
Decide how many noodles you’re going to need. I usually use a 9×13 glass dish. That fits 3 noodles in each layer, so I’d cook 9. If your dish is a bit wider and you can do 4 across then cook 12. You can use any lasagna noodles for this but I wouldn’t recommend the pre cooked kind. I’ve never used them so I can’t comment on how they’d work.
I use whole wheat, kamut or brown rice for gluten free. Prepare noodles so they are slightly undercooked. Like if it says cook for 9-12 minutes, cook for 9. This is so they will soak up the excess water from the veg when it cooks and your lasagna won’t be watery.
While noodles are cooking prepare the vegetables. This is where you can customize it to your liking. Shredded zucchini, sliced mushrooms, small broccoli florets, sliced eggplant, fresh spinach or peppers work great. I don’t ever measure, you don’t need to either. Just use enough veg for a nice even layer. If using eggplant though, slice very thin or fry slices for a few minutes before you use them in the lasagna because they do take a bit longer to cook.
Creamy Cashew Ricotta
Adapted from this recipe here.
1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked and then drained* (soak in salted water for at least 4 hours)
1 tsp garlic powder
2 minced garlic cloves
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup water, at least
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 heaping tsp Italian Seasoning
1 tsp Nutritional yeast (leave out if you don’t have)
Blend ingredients in a magic bullet until smooth, if you don’t have one use a blender.
*If you forgot to soak the cashews then you can still use them but you’re going to need to add a lot more water and blend a for a lot longer. Just keep adding a little at a time until it’s a creamy, spreadable sauce and all ingredients are incorporated.
Now you have all your ingredients it’s time to layer:
1st layer: Thin layer of tomato sauce
2nd layer: Noodles 3 or 4 across
3rd layer: Vegetable of your choice, double up too if you want. Mushrooms and spinach for example.
4th layer: Tomato sauce (it is important to cover the veg with the sauce because otherwise you will end up with a layer of plain veg between the noodles and trust me it doesn’t look or taste as good)
5th layer: Noodles 3 or 4 across
6th layer: More veg, good time for zucchini and eggplant slices; something firm because you’re going to spread the ricotta on top of this.
7th layer: Creamy Cashew Ricotta, spread evenly over the whole thing
8th layer: Another layer of small veg like red peppers or broccoli florets.
9th layer: Thin layer of tomato sauce.
10th layer: Noodles, 3 or 4 across
11th layer: the remainder of your tomato sauce
At this point you’re done or for a more traditional look cover with Daiya cheese shreds. I use mozza and cheddar. Cover with foil, but grease the foil lightly if you used Daiya because the foil and cheese will stick together when melted. Bake at 350 for about 30-35 mins. Until you can see it bubbling in the dish. Remove foil and broil for about 5 mins to melt the Daiya if you used it. Otherwise remove from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.
If you find it a bit watery when you cut into it wait a bit longer. The water from the veg should absorb into the noodles as it cools down.