I made a vegan lasagna, and it was the best I’ve ever made. Granted, it was only my second, and I’ll be making a lasagna Bolognese soon, but still. It was fantastic. And it was easier than the first one I made, because the dry pasta went right into the dish without being precooked. I used a recipe I found on The Kitchn when they reviewed a vegetarian cookbook, and I adapted it for my kitchen. Its only flaw is that the consistency is a bit soft and it doesn’t hold together quite like I’d want. But it’s really good, and even better on the second day. The Engineer and I both agree that it does taste, and feel, like it has dairy and perhaps even meat in it, so you omnivores out there won’t be missing out. I think it’s the nutritional yeast that helps give it a cheese-like flavor here, and the two kinds of tofu end up feeling like ricotta.
I used store-bought tomato sauce, because I didn’t really have the time to make my own; I recommend something with a bit of flavor, like garlic and herbs, instead of plain tomato. I used 5 oz. of spinach instead of the full 10 oz., but given how much it wilts when it’s heated, 10 oz. would be fine, too. I also used homemade pesto instead of fresh basil, for more flavor. My pesto had garlic and parmesan (so I realized only too late that my dish wasn’t actually vegan – oops!), but plain pesto would be fine too. I was also pleased to see that there’s another brand besides Tofutti in the dairy-free cream cheese niche; I used Follow Your Heart this time (and I used mozzarella-style vegan cheese by Galaxy Nutritional). I suspect that the dish I used is slightly smaller than what the recipe calls for, because I ran out of room and had to improvise the last layer. Don’t let this stop you, as there’s room for some interpretation here.
I served it with a green salad and a dressing made with ½ cup lactose-free sour cream, 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard, 3 Tbsp. maple syrup, 2 Tbsp. chives, salt and pepper. It was good, but I’d reduce the amount of maple syrup next time, and perhaps make less of the dressing altogether. You can also use your favorite vegan dressing.
For the filling
2 tsp. olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped (2 cups)
3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbsp.)
1 10-oz. bag fresh baby spinach (or a bit less if you want)
2 12-oz. packages firm tofu, drained
1 8-oz. package vegan cream cheese
½ cup pesto (or chopped fresh basil)
¼ cup nutritional yeast
For the lasagna
5 ½ cups tomato sauce (with something like garlic, herbs or mushrooms, ideally)
12 uncooked whole-wheat lasagna noodles
12 oz. vegan Italian sausage links, cut into thin rounds, or vegan sausage crumbles, broken apart
1 cup shredded vegan mozzarella cheese (3 oz.)
Preheat oven to 375 °F.
Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and garlic in oil 4 to 5 minutes, or until golden. Add spinach, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until wilted. Transfer to bowl of food processor. Add tofu, cream cheese, basil, and nutritional yeast, and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Spread one-quarter of tomato sauce on bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish. Cover with 4 or 5 noodles, then half of filling, and ladle on another one-quarter of sauce. Repeat layer of noodles and remaining filling. Spread sausage evenly over top, and top with one-quarter of sauce. Finish with final layer of noodles and remaining sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Cover with foil, and bake 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake 15 to 20 minutes more, or until noodles are tender and topping is melted. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.