Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Easy Vegan Lasagna with Cheesy Tofu "Ricotta" filling

Tonight's recipe is brought to you by years of vegan cooking for three sometimes picky "Sprouts".

And while two of the three are putting down (almost-grown-up) roots away at college, I still make most of the same recipes and still wish they were sitting around my kitchen table.

Especially when I make lasagna. Because a full pan of lasagna is too much for the two of us, and it just never turns out the same when I make half-recipes or divide it into smaller pans.

Yes. You guessed it.
We're making lasagna with tofu tonight!!
Let me preface this by saying - there are a million excellent vegan lasagna recipes out there. I have several favorites, in several cookbooks that I defer to often, depending on the ingredients I have on hand and how ambitious I'm feeling. I could write a whole post on OTHER PEOPLE's vegan lasagnas. They are all VERY good. But tonight I made "my" version, so that's what you're stuck with.

I've tweaked this recipe for years until I came up with lasagna meeting the Sprouts' exact specifications: "Saucy" but not watery. Vegetables, but not super-chunky. Lots of filling. "Cheesy" without screaming "fake cheese". Acceptable to omni friends and family. Nothing "weird" like raw kale (ha!).

OK, if you gave up cheese yesterday and still insanely miss the ultra-gooey-stretchy-stringy-meltyness of "real" mozzarella, you might not be totally fooled. I'll give you that - otherwise, I think we have a winner here.

No gloppy-greasy-clog-your-arteries animal ingredients. No raw zucchini and chia seed filling either. But for those of you wanting a basic, fairly easy, slightly vegetable-y lasagna, I think this is what you're looking for.


"Cheesy" Lasagna Filling

  • 3/4 Cup of soy or rice milk, heated, but not boiling!
  • 1/2 Cup of raw cashews
  • 1 block of firm tofu
  • 1/2 carton Tofutti Cream Cheese
  • 1/8 Teaspoon of salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/4 Cup of nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 Tb. cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup fresh herb leaves (I use a mixture of basil, oregano, sage, parsley and rosemary)

In food processor or GOOD blender (like a Vitamix) place the very warm milk and cashews in first, blend until liquefied, (careful, hot liquids can splatter) then put in the rest of the ingredients and blend until thick and creamy. Add an extra Tablespoon or so of plant milk if needed only to get things blended.

To assemble lasagna, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 8 cups of your favorite tomato or spaghetti sauce
  • Spinach leaves (as little or as much as you want)
  • Thinly sliced, or chopped, sauteed portabellas or other mushrooms of your choice (amount is up to you)
  • 1 box lasagna noodles (I used the "no-boil" noodles)
  • Cheesy filling mixture (recipe above)
  • Daiya or other melty vegan cheese (optional)
  • Deep 9 X 12 lasagna pan
  • foil


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
To begin, pour a layer of tomato sauce mixed with 1 Tbsp. olive oil across the pan and spread it out with a spoon. (The olive oil keeps the bottom layer from sticking or scorching.)

Next, place a layer of noodles in the pan. I overlap them a bit even though it says not to on the package.
Spread 'cheesy' mixture fairly thickly across noodles.
Add thin layer spinach and/or mushrooms if you're using.
More sauce, another layer of noodles.
More cheese, spinach, mushrooms, etc... keep layering and end with sauce.
'Tent' tinfoil over the pan (so it completely covers the pan but doesn't touch the surface). Make sure that the foil is closed down on all sides so that the sauce won't dry out. Next, place it in the oven for 60 - 70 minutes on 375 degrees.

Remove foil. At this point, if you WANT (totally optional) you can add a layer of vegan cheese like Daiya or Teese. I don't always bother and it still turns out great!
Bake uncovered for another 5 - 15 min.
If it's too juicy, or you've added cheese that you want to melt, bake uncovered for at least another 15 minutes.

Remove from oven. Let set for at least 10 minutes to set up, and serve.
Fight your kids off with a stick for the leftovers. Yum.


Dawn said...

No-cook noodles...I tried those about a dozen years ago and they did not work, but I'm sure I can get them to work now (I'd better be able to!).

They will put the 10 quarts and 9 pints of CSA Marinara that we canned to good use!


Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

Dawn, what didn't work? Did they not cook through?
Make sure the lasagna is a bit liquidy.
Make sure you cover tightly with foil for the first 45 min at LEAST.
Make the lasagna and let it sit, unbaked, in the fridge overnight to soften the noodles if you want.
PLEASE let me know if it doesn't work!!

Candy Beans said...

I am emailing this to my boyfriend right now. He's a new vegan with an unbelievably picky six year old. Maybe this will tempt her!

Sal said...

this looks great. I am a big fan of lasagna. Haven't made any in AGES.

Angela Petyko said...

I wasn't much for lasagna in my pre-vegan life but i LOVE this recipe! My non-vegan hubby loves it too. Unfortunately he doesn't love mushrooms so i change it up each time…sometimes with some crumbles (seasoned with a little italian seasoning and baked just a bit before layering it into the lasagna) and this time i just chopped up some vegan italian sausage into itty bits and tossed it with some chopped spinach to layer into the lasagna (this way he doesn't get a big spinach leaf in any bite either!). He also wasn't a fan of ricotta but he loves this "riNOTta" as we've come to call it! And with my last batch…I made extra "riNOTta" and tossed it with more chopped spinach, some daiya mozzarella shreds and added a little avocado oil and heated it up with some pasta…YUM! Thank you for this easy recipe!