Yup it’s a bold statement but I stand by it! This is the very BEST vegan lasagna EVER! Layers of tender noodles, grilled veggies like zucchini and mushrooms, cashew ricotta cheese and a hearty, walnut meat Bolognese sauce that is to die for!
This recipe was originally published in December 2018. It has been updated for content and photos.
Now let me be perfectly clear, making lasagna is a bit of a lengthy process.
BUT I promise, it’s worth it!
Plus, you can prep many of the components ahead of time, if needed.
Is vegan lasagna healthy?
Not necessarily. As always, it depends on the ingredients being used.
That said, this plant based version is definitely a healthy and wholesome alternative to traditional lasagna.
Using ingredients like zucchini, mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, nuts, spinach and more!
Ready for the best walnut meat lasagna? No tofu, no “fake” meat, just real, wholesome ingredients, with a no oil option, too.
How to make it
(This is a summary with step by step photos, full recipe measurements and instructions are in the recipe card below.)
For the cashew ricotta
First, wilt your spinach or you may use frozen. Squeeze out as much moisture as possible using a clean dish towel or paper towels, and set aside.
Add all the cashew ricotta ingredients (EXCEPT the spinach) to a food processor and process until smooth. (photos 1-2)
Now add the wilted spinach and pulse a few times to gently chop and incorporate, without pureeing. You want beautiful white cheese with ribbons of spinach throughout, not green ricotta. (photos 3-4)
For the walnut meat sauce (vegan bolognese)
A traditional lasagna uses a ground meat Bolognese sauce. For hearty, meaty flavour and texture I’m using walnuts and mushrooms, plus some sun dried tomatoes.
Add the mushrooms to your food processor and pulse until chopped, without over processing. Then transfer to your pot or deep skillet to sauté. (photos 5-6)
Now add the walnuts and sun dried tomatoes to your processor and pulse until chopped, but don’t over process. (photo 7)
Transfer to your pan with the sautéed mushrooms and continue to sauté. (photo 8)
Add the tomato sauce and all the seasoning, mix well and bring to a gentle boil, cooking for 20 minutes (or longer) and then set your marinara sauce aside until needed. (photo 9)
For the veggies
To “grill” the veggies, slice them and place on baking tray with parchment paper, in a single layer. Then drizzle with oil (if using) and salt and pepper. Broil in the oven until golden and slightly reduced, approx. 3-4 minutes. (photos 10-11)
NOTE: Watch closely to prevent burning.
For the lasagna noodles
Make sure to save this step for last so they don’t stick together or break, before you get a chance to assemble your vegan lasagna.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and add about half your package of lasagna sheets to the pot, one at time. Do not dump them in and do not overcook! Handle with care.
Carefully remove the cooked lasagna noodles from the boiling water using tongs and place directly into a cold water bath while you continue cooking the sheets.
Alternatively, you may use ready to bake/no boil lasagna sheets.
How to assemble the best vegan lasagna!
Set up some space on your counter to lay out all your lasagna components. Have everything ready to go so you’re not scrambling.
Begin with a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of your lasagna dish. This will prevent the noodles from sticking to your dish. Then add a layer of lasagna sheets for your base. (photo 12)
Add another thin layer of sauce, followed by half of your vegan ricotta cheese. (photos 13-14)
Next, add all the zucchini in a single layer, followed by another thin layer of sauce, and your second layer of lasagna sheets. (photos 15-17)
NOTES: Cut your sheets, if needed to fit into your tray. Alternate the direction of your lasagna sheets with each layer, to make slicing easier once baked.
Add another thin layer of sauce over top the noodles, followed by the remaining half of your cashew ricotta cheese. (photos 18-19)
Now add all your sliced portobello mushrooms in a single layer, followed by the third and final layer of lasagna noodles. (photos 20-21)
Add more sauce on top, ensuring to get sauce in all the corners and covering all your ingredients. (photo 22)
Finally, sprinkle your vegan lasagna with vegan parmesan cheese, if using. (photo 23)
Bake your vegan lasagna and then remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
This will give it a chance to set and make slicing a little easier.
Serve garnished with extra parm, red pepper flakes, ground black pepper, or as is.
Yes, you may prepare all of the components in advance, and fully assemble your vegan lasagna 1-2 days before baking to save you time on the day you’re enjoying.
Yes, absolutely, just sauté the veggies in water or broth for a simple swap.
Check the instructions of your lasagna noodles, as many are labelled ‘ready to bake’ or ‘no boil lasagna noodles’. If not, then make sure to precook before assembling your vegan lasagna.
Sure. You may sub the zucchini and portobello mushrooms with other veggies like eggplant, squash or even caramelized onion.
Yes. If you cannot have cashews, you may use blanched almonds instead. If you need the lasagna to be nut free, use raw sunflower seeds to replace the cashews and pepitas for the walnuts.
You may store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Yes. You may freeze a fully assembled lasagna before baking to serve on a future date. Or you may freeze leftovers if you won’t consume them within the 4 day time frame.
Expert Tips for Success
- Prepare ALL your layers in the order listed, saving the lasagna sheets for LAST. Do not cook your lasagna sheets until you’re ready to assemble. You don’t want them to stick together or get too soggy and break. (Ignore, if using oven ready sheets.)
- If you don’t have a powerful food processor, presoak your cashews in hot water for 30-60 minutes to soften them and help them blend smooth. Then drain and make the cashew ricotta as directed.
- Squeeze as much moisture as possible from your spinach to prevent a watery cashew ricotta.
- Do not puree the spinach. You don’t want green ricotta, just pulse to gently chop and distribute.
- Make sure not to over process the mushrooms, walnuts or sun dried tomatoes. You want nice, hearty texture for the best vegan lasagna.
- For the lasagna noodles, do not overcrowd them in your pot of boiling water when precooking. Also make sure to transfer the sheets to a water bath, immediately once tender. Or, use ready to bake sheets.
- Cut your lasagna sheets, as needed, to fit nicely into your baking dish.
- Alternate the direction of your three lasagna sheet layers, to make slicing easier once baked.
- To keep this recipe vegan, check the lasagna package label to ensure there are no eggs as some dried lasagna sheets may contain egg.
More veganized Italian favourites
- Spicy Vegan Salami
- Pasta e Fagioli
- Vegan Zuppa Toscana
- Stuffed Mushrooms with Cranberry Risotto
- Vegan Carbonara with Soy Curl Pancetta
If you tried this recipe, please let me know about it in the comments below. I always love hearing from you! Don’t forget to Subscribe to This Healthy Kitchen to be among the first to get my new recipes! You can also FOLLOW ME on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter to see more delicious food and get all the latest updates.
Cashew Ricotta Ingredients
Mushroom Walnut Bolognese Sauce Ingredients
Grilled Veggie Ingredients
- 2 large portobello mushrooms sliced
- 2 large zucchini sliced
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil or drizzle with water or broth for oil free
- Salt + pepper to taste
Lasagna Noodles Ingredients
- 454 grams package lasagna noodles whole wheat or gluten free if preferred (you may also use ready to bake/no boil lasagna sheets to save time)
Optional But Recommended Topping
Cashew Ricotta Instructions
- Wilt your spinach in a skillet with a few drops of water to get it going. Once wilted, lay the spinach on a clean dish towel, and press down with paper towels to squeeze the liquids out. You want to strain as much liquid as possible from the spinach.
- Add the cashews to your food processor along with all remaining ingredients, EXCEPT the spinach. Process until smooth. This will take about 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides every 30 seconds or so. Then add the spinach and pulse once or twice to get it incorporated. Do NOT over process the spinach. You do not want to puree the spinach or turn the cheese green. Instead you should see pieces of spinach throughout. See process pics above.
- Transfer your ricotta into a small bowl and refrigerate until needed. It will thicken up a little more in the fridge.
Mushroom Walnut Bolognese Sauce Instructions
- Add the mushrooms to your food processor and process until finely chopped. Then add the oil and the mushrooms to a large sauce pan or pot. Cook the mushrooms for approx. 3 minutes, until slightly reduced.
- Meanwhile, process the walnuts and sundried tomatoes in your food processor until a crumbly texture is achieved. Then add to the pot with the mushrooms. Give it a stir and then add your tomato sauce and seasonings and mix well.
- Simmer your sauce for 20 minutes and then set aside until ready to use.
Grilled Veggie Instructions
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set your oven to broil on high.
- Arrange your sliced veggies in a single layer and drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil for 4 minutes until lightly golden and reduced, watching carefully not to burn.
- Remove from the oven and set aside.
Lasagna Noodles Instructions
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and fill a large bowl with cold water. Place the bowl of cold water on your counter as close as possible to your boiling pot of water.
- Add about half the package of lasagna sheets to your boiling pot of water. Do not overcrowd the pot. Cook for 2-3 minutes until softened, or according to package directions. Using tongs, carefully transfer your softened lasagna sheets into your water bath.
- Repeat with remaining sheets.
Assembly & Bake Instructions
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
I used a glass tray that measures 11″x15″ and assembled my lasagna in the following order:Sauce | Noodles | Sauce | Ricotta Cheese | Zucchini | Sauce | Noodles | Sauce | Ricotta Cheese | Mushrooms | Noodles | Sauce | Parmesan Cheese (optional)
- Scoop a thin layer of sauce onto your glass baking dish. Then add a layer of lasagna sheets over top in a single layer. Add more sauce over the lasagna sheets and spread using a silicone brush.
- Now add half of the ricotta cheese mixture on top of the sauce, using a fork to help spread it evenly across. Then top your cheese with the zucchini slices and add another thin layer of sauce over the zucchini.
- Now add your second layer of lasagna sheets, followed by another thin layer of sauce. Then spread the remaining ricotta cheese on top.
- Next, add the mushrooms in a single layer, followed by your third layer of noodles. Scoop more sauce over your noodles, making sure to get it in all the corners to prevent sticking while baking.
- Optional: Generously sprinkle vegan parmesan cheese on top, if using. (Recommended!)
- Cover your tray with parchment paper and then aluminum foil and bake in your preheated oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, uncover and let sit for 10-15 minutes before slicing into 12 slices and serving. Garnish each slice of lasagna with more parmesan cheese or hot peppers.