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Vibrant and Veganfull (V&V) provides vegan recipes to support health and contributions to sustainability.  V&V also explores ideas and concepts to provide you informed choices for living more sustainably.


With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie

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Epic (I can't believe it's vegan!) Lasagna

Updated: Jun 19

This.is.THE.one! The culinary equivalent of your (lasagna) soul mate. You just know that it is the only lasagna you will ever need / want as a vegan. The recipe has all the things you have been looking for; great flavor, perfect texture, and the "full" factor. In short, it's perfection.


In classic Italian form, this lasagna makes a huge batch and is 100% a time commitment in the making. The layers, the flavor profile, and the overall care that this recipe requires is nothing contrary to the traditional non-vegan versions you make at home. The difference? No cheese, no egg, and no meat. That's asking a lot from a dish that is predicated on all three of those items combining into a bubbly layered masterpiece. Though, friends,I did it, and it is amazing!

Sustainability Spotlight: Since I mentioned the whole "soul mate" thing, I was inspired to make this spotlight a focus on how I came to be vegan and promote sustainability like I do in my life (and to you on this blog). It's because of my real life soul mate; my husband. My husband who believes in me, supports me, and will go to the ends of the Earth (even; gasp! meat-free; well, at least half of his week) to see me happy. It's because of his ability to do this for us that I have enriched my life; expanded my world beyond what I ever thought was possible. Every step of the way when I hesitated, he gave me that boost to get me started.


When I first decided that maybe vegan was something I wanted to do (heck, in my heart, it was always something I wanted to do, but in my head, there were many reasons not to), I was nervous about his reaction. He simply said, "okay," and later that day when we were perusing books he nonchalantly presented me with several vegan cookbooks he thought would get me started on my journey. The rest is history as they say. But, it's not really, because he ensures that I am supported in all environments for sustainability and being a vegan each and every day. His thoughts extend beyond "accommodating" me as an individual to participate in this lifestyle, but rather, he has become a partner in the lifestyle for sustainability.


And together, we are teaching our children how to be more sustainable; something incredibly important for their lives as a generation who will inherit the Earth and teach their children how to interact with the planet and our resources. As a result, our kids both know that they can (and I hope ardently, will!) change the world with their generation and how that generation approaches impacts to the Earth. I hope we, as adults, can inspire them; not just what it means to have a supporting and loving partner in life (whomever that might be), but also what it truly means to be an agent of change. It means doing what you say and living your truth; together with other individuals that can support that truth as a unit.


My truth is to support sustainability in a variety of ways; that's my dream, and that's my "purpose" and in many ways has become my husband's purpose too because of our commitment to each other and our family. If my kids find their dream and their purpose, I hope they go for it, 100%! And when they do "go for it," I hope that they do so because my husband and I have propelled their desire to make a difference, together!


Ingredients:

  • Lasagna & Sauce:

  • 1 lb lasagna noodles (boiled) - in case they tear / rip, make the whole box. You can always cut up the extra and serve later in the week with a quick sauce (or like we do, feed it to our kids "plain")

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 Spanish onion (chopped)

  • 15 garlic cloves (minced)

  • 1 lb. vegan meat crumbles (I use 1 package Impossible Meat for this recipe)

  • 7-8 baby bella mushrooms (cremini) - chopped

  • (1) 28-oz can crushed tomatoes with basil

  • (1) 28-oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

  • 1 handful fresh basil

  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley

  • 1 tbsp dried oregano

  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

  • salt & black pepper (to taste)

  • Herbed Tofu Ricotta:

  • 1 cup sauteed spanish onion & garlic (see recipe directions)

  • 2 packages of extra-firm tofu (pressed and drained)

  • 1 lemon (juiced)

  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

  • 2 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 small handful fresh flat-leave (Italian) parsley

  • 1 small handful fresh basil

  • Bechamel Sauce:

  • 2 cups filtered water

  • 2 cups raw cashews (soaked in water for ~2 hours or overnight; drained)

  • 3 tsp white (mellow) miso paste

  • 5 tbsp nutritional yeast

  • 1.5 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Heat a deep & large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil; once it shimmers, add onion with a pinch of salt and saute for ~5-7 minutes until the onion starts to brown. Add garlic and saute another 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Remove from heat; take ~1 cup (1/3 of the mixture) and put it into a large food processor (set food processor aside; allowing onion & garlic to cool).

  2. Return deep skillet with remaining onion and garlic to medium-high heat on the stove. Add meat crumbles and mushrooms, and then, saute until browned (~5-7) minutes. Next, add both cans of tomatoes (with juices) through salt & pepper (start with 1/2 tsp salt & 1/4 tsp pepper).

  3. Bring tomato sauce mixture up to a boil; reduce heat and simmer (stirring infrequently) uncovered for ~35 minutes. The sauce will thicken and is "done" when you stir and not a lot of individual liquid remains at the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat; taste and season with more salt & pepper as desired (keep in mind, the lasagna and bechamel also have salt so go gentle here!)

  4. While your sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add noodles and cook according to package directions until al dente (do not overcook your noodles - the "bake" will finish off the pasta and avoid any "gummy" textures); ~12 minutes. Do not rinse noodles; I do let them "dangle" over the sides of my pot to cool slightly and avoid continuing to cook / tearing. You need 12 full noodles for this recipe.

  5. Next, while your sauce is simmering, make your herbed tofu ricotta by adding all remaining ingredients under Herbed Tofu Ricotta to your onion and garlic mixture already in the food processor. I recommend you try and process 1 block of tofu and then add the next. The processor will be quite full. Process fully until combined and small flecks of green (from the herbs) remain but are fully incorporated into your tofu. Set aside.

  6. Still while your sauce is simmering, make your bechamel sauce by combining all ingredients in Bechamel Sauce into a high-speed blender and process until completely smooth (Vitamix ~1 minute; others may be 5-6 minutes and require tamper and / or scrapping down the sides as you go). Set aside.

  7. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F and get out a deep lasagna pan (you need a lasagna pan for this recipe - not just a "basic" 9 x 12). Spray the bottom lightly with cooking spray.

  8. Take ~3/4 cup of sauce and spread in an even layer over the bottom of the pan. It should not be a thick layer, and should barely coat the bottom. This is to help the bottom noodles not to stick to the pan and for you to be able to serve without mangling your lasagna; in other words, do this please.

  9. Now, it's time to layer - you ready? Fair warning, the "spreading" is a bit difficult on the ricotta- use a spatula; scoop & drop over the noodles intermittently; and spread with your layering overlap (not against). Spreading is also a bit challenging on the bechamel - pour and then shake lightly or tilt your pan slightly to fill in and get to edges as needed.

  10. 4 noodles slightly overlapping

  11. 1/2 ricotta mixture

  12. 2 cups tomato mixture

  13. 1/3 bechamel sauce

  14. 4 noodles slightly overlapping

  15. remaining ricotta mixture

  16. 2 cups tomato mixture

  17. 1/3 bechamel sauce

  18. 4 noodles slightly overlapping

  19. You should have ~3/4 cup tomato sauce remaining - spread as best as possible over top noodles.

  20. Cover with aluminum foil (you can rinse & recycle it later!) and bake for ~45 minutes. Slide pan (careful! It is hot AND heavy) out of the oven and spread the remaining 1/3 bechamel sauce over the top of the lasagna.

  21. Put pan back into the oven and bake uncovered for 12 minutes; without removing pan from oven, turn oven to Broil (high) and broil for ~4-3 minutes until the top of the sauce starts to tan / brown.

  22. Let sit for ~10 minutes before cutting and serving.

I dare you not to fall in love with this recipe!


With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie

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