I’ve recently been on a kick where I’m trying to prepare meals that I can prep ahead of time and then just cook to the right temp when we are ready to eat. It gives me more time in the evenings to hang out with Casey doing other things, instead of spending all night in the kitchen.
The latest creation was made on an evening where I really wanted something filling and hearty, but not something that was too rich or dense. So often lasagna is all about the cheese, but in this version I wanted the vegetables to shine. This vegan cheese-less creation could fool anyone into thinking the ricotta is real, and the lightness of the tofu filling means you can keep going back for more and more.
Summer Vegetable Vegan Lasagna
Ingredients: (serves 6)
- 2 medium zucchini squash
- 2 medium yellow squash
- 1 pint crimini mushrooms
- 1 block firm tofu
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1.5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 package frozen spinach, drained
- 1 box lasagna noodles
- 1 jar marinara sauce
Instructions: I made mine using summer squash and mushrooms, but feel free to sub in your favorite veggies! Dice vegetables into bite sized pieces and then sauté over medium heat until soft and browning. Pre-cooking the vegetables is key so that your lasagna doesn’t end up watery!
Defrost and drain the spinach – make sure to use paper towels to blot up any excess water. Frozen spinach holds a LOT of water, and you don’t want all of that leaking out into your casserole. Again – we are avoiding watery lasagna here at all costs!
I used a mixture similar to Jenna’s stuffed shells (one of my favorites!) for the ricotta filling. Combine tofu, olive oil, nutritional yeast, oregano, salt, and spinach in a food processor and then process until smooth. Yum. Season with additional salt if needed.
At this point, if you need to cook your lasagna noodles, now is the time. I highly recommend the no-cook-oven-ready noodles if you can find them. (I got mine at Trader Joe’s, and am hoping to find a whole wheat or brown rice pasta option for next time I made this.)
Now that your vegetables are cooked, add them to a saucepan with your favorite jar of marinara sauce. Or if you are feeling super ambitious, you can make your own sauce from scratch. Since my main incentive for this lasagna was convenience, jarred sauce won.
Now it is time for lasagna assembly! Cover the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish with a few spoonfuls of sauce. Next add a layer of lasagna noodles. Don’t be scared of the no-cook noodles – they are hard and seem like they won’t cook. Trust me, they will.
Add a large dollop of tofu ricotta on top of the noodles and spread evenly.
And then continue layering pasta, ricotta, and sauce. The order doesn’t really matter, as long as the noodles have sauce either on top or bottom of them (so they can soak up the liquid!).
Finish with a top layer of sauce and veggies. YUM. At this point, if you used the no-cook noodles, you need to let the lasagna sit for at least 30 minutes so that the pasta can soak up some liquid. (If your noodles are cooked, you can bake right away.) Cover with foil and set aside until ready for baking.
While you wait, please notice how ridiculous my apron looks around a 33 week belly. But it still does the trick!
When you are ready to eat, pop the lasagna into the oven at 375 degrees and bake (covered with foil) for 40-45 minutes. Uncover, slice, and serve.
I know it’s just lasagna, but this is one of my favorite things that I’ve made. The filling is so creamy and cheese-like – you would never know there was no real dairy!
And you don’t miss the cheese that is usually on top of lasagna, because the top is covered in delicious summer vegetables. Nothing else needed.
One of the major benefits of swapping in tofu for cheese is that this version is much lighter and lower in calories and fat than traditional lasagna. We may or may not have eaten the entire thing in two days.
I think I’ll use my leftover noodles to make another one of these to pop into our freezer so that we have it on hand when the baby comes. Because honestly, there can never be too much lasagna.