Monday, February 23, 2009

A Happy Vegan Lasagne

I've tried umpteen vegan lasagne recipes since going vegan and I've never been happy.  They either have turned out flat (not enough filling), too spinachy, too fake meaty, or too fake cheesy.  And the noodles never seemed right, as I had switched to no-boil noodles.  I'm never happy with the lasagne results.  I had pretty much given up on lasagne and then I decided I would try one more.  I searched google images for vegan lasagnes that looked good.  I narrowed it down to 2 recipes:

Tempeh Lasange with Cashew Cream Sauce

HSUS Vegan Lasagne

I then combined the aspects of each that I liked and came up with my own version.  And holy moly!!  This time the lasange rocked!  I am actually looking forward to the leftovers tonight (isn't that the best part of lasagne - meals for days).

Vegan Lasagna
(Not my best photography)

Here is my version of vegan lasagne which we declared a keeper. I won't lie to you. It's a lot of work - good for a lazy saturday when you have nothing better to do. The parts can all be made separately and then thrown together after the noodles are boiled.

Vegan Lasagne

lasagna noodles (~15 noodles)
Vegan parmesan (I like Parmezano Sprinkles from the Uncheese cookbook)
1/2 block Follow Your Heart vegan mozzarella

1 1/2 24-oz jars Barilla Tomato Basil Sauce
8 oz five grain tempeh
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp+ white wine
1/2 tsp dried basil

Tofu Ricotta
1 pkg extra firm tofu (~14-16 oz)
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
3/4 Tbsp dried basil
1/2 Tbsp oregano
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper

Cheese Sauce
1 cup of water
1/4 cup roasted red peppers (I just get a red bell pepper and broil it and peel it)
1/4 cup raw blanched almonds
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbsp tahini
3 Tbsp whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp corn starch (or arrowroot)
1/2 tsp Garlic powder


Cut the tempeh in half and steam for 20 minutes. Let it cool for a bit and then finely grate it. I use the food processor to get a really fine grate on the tempeh.

Press the tofu for the tofu ricotta.

If you are roasting your own red bell pepper for the sauce, blacken a red bell pepper in the broiler. When blackened on all sides, place the pepper in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside for 5-10 minutes. Then uncover and peel the pepper. Dice the pepper and set aside for the cheese sauce later.

In a nonstick skillet over med-high heat, add 1 Tbsp olive oil and the onions. Cook the onions until the brown slightly. Add the garlic. Cook for another 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the grated tempeh and another tablespoon of olive oil. Cook the tempeh until golden brown. This takes about 7-10 minutes. Mix the soy sauce and liquid smoke. Add the soy sauce mixture the tempeh (carefully as the tempeh will want to jump out of the pan, have a lid handy). Add the white wine. Cook for a minute. Add 1 1/2 jars of Barilla Tomato Basil sauce and 1/2 tsp dried basil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside. You can put this in the fridge for later.

Crumble the tofu with a fork and mix in the ricotta seasonings (basil, nutritional yeast, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper). Set aside. You can put this in the fridge for later.

If you are making your own parmezano sprinkles, this is a good time to make those and set aside (see recipe link above).

Now you are ready to actually make the lasagne. :)

Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).

Put a big pot of salted water on the stove and bring to a boil. Cook the noodles as instructed.** Drain well.

Meanwhile, blend together the ingredients for the cheese sauce in a blender.

Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray or wipe with olive oil.

Spread 1/3 of the marinara sauce on the bottom of the pan. Cover with about 5 noodles, slightly overlapping each other. Cover the noodles with 1/2 of the ricotta. Pour a thin layer of cheese sauce over all. Lay 3 more noodles, then ricotta, then 1/3 marinara sauce, then cheese sauce (leave a little for the top). Lay down the last 3 noodles, and pour the remaining marinara sauce over the top. Pour any remaining cheese sauce over the marinara. Sprinkle the vegan mozzarella over the sauce.

Bake for 40 minutes covered, then for 30 minutes uncovered. If the vegan mozzarella is not looking melted when there is about 10 minutes left, swap the oven to the broiler so that the vegan cheese will melt by the time it is finished.

Let lasagne sit for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with a sprinkle of vegan parmesan.

** Don't use no-boil noodles for this. The texture is really not the same and this recipe will not have enough sauce/liquid to cook the noodles.


  1. Presumably you're using a dry pasta, not a fresh pasta for these noodles? Does anyone make a fresh noodle w/o egg as the binder? Is it even possible to make a fresh noodle w/o egg?

  2. Your lasagne looks delicious! I've been thinking about making my own pasta sheets, blended silken tofu could work pretty well instead of the eggs. But it's just so much extra work for a labor intensive dish like lasagne!

  3. @Anni does tofu have sufficient lecithin to be functional as a binder in this way? You might be able to make ribbon pasta or small shapes, but I'm not sure something as large as a lasagna sheet is going to remain structurally intact without significant binder in the dough.

  4. Dry pasta is made completely differently from fresh pasta. In Italy they are completely separate culinary traditions from completely different parts of the country. So while it is true that at some point dry pasta existed in a pre-dried state, that isn't the same thing as fresh pasta. Americans tend to think of dried pasta as an inferior product to fresh (and so pay far more for fresh), but this is incorrect. They're different, and intended to be used in different ways. The problem in the US is when companies start selling the wrong noodles made using the wrong techniques. When you see bags of dried tortellini and bags of dried, wide ribbons, run away. Those ought only ever be fresh, as that is the tradition from which they derive. But properly made dry pasta, pressed through bronze dyes has a rough exterior which is perfect for gripping sauces. The only really inferior product is dry pasta pressed through teflon dyes (which last longer than bronze) and end up being perfectly smooth on the outside.

    Dry pasta is made with flour and water, which is permitted to fully hydrate before being extruded and then dried. Fresh pasta has no water, only egg, and lacks the time to fully hydrate the flour in the same way. Hundreds of years ago, fresh pasta was made without eggs, but I do not believe noodles as large as lasagna sheets were possible with such a dough.

    If someone pulls it off, I'd love to hear about it.

  5. The lasagne looks delicious! The cheese sauce sounds really interesting.

    I have made eggless fresh pasta with great results, using a recipe from Bryanna Clark Grogan, found here:

    The recipe uses either soy flour or chickpea flour; I use the latter.

    I've never tried using it for making lasagne, but it is wonderful as fresh boiled pasta.

  6. that looks amazing!! and i'm italian, so, i would know. ;)