Yes it’s a bold statement but I stand by it! This is seriously the BEST vegan lasagna EVER! As an Italian, my ancestors are probably shaking their heads at me right now. Yes, you may think that vegan and lasagna don’t belong in the same sentence, but boy oh boy is this ever GOOD. My husband who doesn’t even like lasagna (I know, weird) thoroughly enjoyed this! Vegan lasagna for the win!
I won’t lie to you, this dish is quite involved. There’s a few steps and a bit of prep work involved. But oh is it ever worth it! Make sure to have everything prepped before you start assembling. You need all the components ready, saving the lasagna sheets for last! Get ready to dig in!
So how did I veganize this traditional Italian recipe?
Well, first of all, rather than use a mozzarella style cheese, I really wanted to use a traditional style ricotta that my mom often made growing up. On special occasions, and even on some regular days (yes she did!), my mom makes these amazing traditional cannelloni with ricotta and spinach. So that’s my inspiration for this plant based version. I use cashews for the base, nutritional yeast for the cheesy flavour, and some seasonings to get this just right. To make this ricotta, make sure you do really squeeze out the liquids from your spinach. Also, make sure not to puree the spinach. You don’t want green cheese. You want beautiful white looking cheese with ribbons of spinach throughout.
To begin, soak your cashews in boiling hot water. This will get them to swell faster than using room temperature. Then wilt your spinach. I used fresh spinach and wilted them in a skillet with just a few drops of water to get it going. This will only take a few minutes, at most. Once wilted, dry the spinach using dish cloths or paper towels and squeeze out the excess moisture. This will ensure your cheese doesn’t get watery. If using frozen spinach, no need to wilt them, just drain as much moisture as possible first.
Process all the ricotta ingredients EXCEPT the spinach in your food processor until smooth. Once desired consistency is achieved, only then add your strained spinach. Pulse once or twice to incorporate the spinach, but do not over process.
Now for the sauce.
A traditional lasagna uses a bolognese sauce with ground beef. To give hearty, meaty flavour and texture to my sauce I use walnuts and mushrooms. This sauce is SO good. I can seriously just eat it with a spoon. You may want to make a little extra if you like to taste your food as your cooking. 🙂
In your food processor, process your mushrooms first until finely chopped. Then toss your mushrooms and cooking oil into your sauce pan and sauté while you process the next ingredients. The sundried tomatoes and walnuts can be processed together into a crumbly chunky meal. Do not over process. You want these pieces big enough to add texture to your sauce.
Add these to your sauce pan, along with your homemade tomato sauce (or store bought), and seasonings. Let this simmer while you prepare the parmesan cheese (if using) and your veggies.
For the veggies! Easy Peasy!
I like using large slices of vegetables so you really get a good bite of them. To “grill” the veggies, I cheat and broil them in the oven. It’s just quick and easy! Feel free to use a grill if preferred. But do not skip precooking the veggies in some way. You want to reduce them and release some water before layering into your lasagna.
Line the veggies in a single layer and drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle salt and pepper. These cook quickly using a broiler, so watch closely, and don’t let your veggies burn.
And finally, the lasagna sheets!
I can’t express this enough. Please save cooking the lasagna sheets for last. Very important. You don’t want them to stick together, or break before you get to assembling. So prepare everything else first.
Once your water is boiling, add about half your package of lasagna sheets to the pot, one at time. Do not dump them in. You don’t want these breaking, so handle with care. Cook for a few minutes, according to package directions.
Your noodles should limp once ready, but do not overcook or they will break and fall apart. Carefully remove the cooked lasagna sheets from the boiling water using tongs.
Immediately place your cooked noodles into a cold water bath to stop the cooking process and prevent sticking while the remaining sheets are being cooked.
Of course you can eliminate this step by using oven ready lasagna noodles. However, the taste and texture of the traditional noodles is far superior, in my opinion.
Now to assemble your vegan lasagna!
Set up some space on your counter to lay out all your vegan lasagna components. Have everything ready to go so you’re not scrambling. Begin with a thin layer sauce on the bottom of your lasagna dish. This will prevent sticking.
Then add a layer of lasagna sheets for your base. I used 5-6 sheets per each of my 3 noodle layers. Alternate the direction of the noodles for each layer. Following the first noodle layer, add a thin layer of sauce, followed by half of your vegan ricotta spinach cheese.
Next, add all the zucchini in a single layer, followed by another thin layer of sauce.
Then add your second layer of lasagna sheets, remembering to rotate the direction of your noodles. Cut your noodles if necessary to fit in the tray properly. Then add another thin layer of sauce over top the noodles.
Now, add the remaining half of your ricotta cheese, followed by all the portobello mushrooms in a single layer.
Next, add your final layer of lasagna sheets, remembering to rotate the direction once more. Add more sauce evenly on top, ensuring to get sauce in all the corners to prevent sticking.
Finally, sprinkle about two thirds of the vegan parmesan cheese, if using, on top of the sauce. You may reserve the remaining third for serving with your vegan lasagna slices later.
There you have it!
Your vegan lasagna is now ready for the oven. YUM YUM YUM!! 🙂
Once baked, let your lasagna sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before slicing. This will give it a chance to set and make slicing it a little easier.
Once set, slice your vegan lasagna into 12 equal pieces. Serve garnished with extra vegan parmesan cheese, if using.
Alternatively, you may garnish with fresh basil, hot peppers or chili flakes, or just enjoy as is!
Okay readers, now I’ve got a special treat for you.
Yes, it gets even better than the BEST vegan lasagna!
I’ve teamed up with TEN fellow food bloggers to bring you a ELEVEN recipes to provide a FULL holiday menu! Christmas is approaching, but these amazing recipes can be eaten any time of year. I’ve got you covered with your main course, my amazing vegan lasagna!
My fellow bloggers have got you covered from drinks, appetizers, sides, and of course, DESSERT. Check these all out below. 🙂
First up, I’ve got this delicious Orange Cranberry Mimosa Holiday Mocktail by Trish of Rhubarbarians.
Next is this amazing Vegan Cream Cheese Ball by Rebecca at Vegan Blueberry.
Then I have Valerie’s Holiday Baked Vegan Cheese with Guava Swirl from Very Vegan Val. Yum!
And finally, this drool worthy Vegan Spinach Kale Dip by Kerrie at Plant & Vine.
First up for side dishes is Kaila’s delicious Smokey White Bean Puree from Healthy Helper.
Next I have Jeni’s Vegan Sausage Stuffed Dates from Thyme & Love. Wow!
And finally, this delicious Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad by Elizabeth at Healthy Midwestern Girl.
First up for dessert are these amazing Peppermint Candy Cane Chocolate Shortbread Cookies by Joann at Woman in Real Life.
Next is Nele’s Vegan Gingerbread Cake from Nutriplanet. Gimme!
And finally, Chloe’s White Chocolate Peppermint Truffles from Baked By Clo. Okay, seriously drooling!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on these amazing holiday recipes, so drop me a line in the comments below!