Luscious Vegan Lasagna

A classic comfort casserole, lasagna can be highly individual, and mine is no exception. With soy-free and gluten-free ingredients, even those with food sensitivities can enjoy this rich, creamy dish. 

As with most flavorful dishes, this recipe is even better the next day when the flavors have a chance to merge in the fridge.


Luscious Vegan Lasagna
By Allison Rivers Samson

Serves 8

Ingredients
Pasta
12 lasagna noodles
4 quarts boiling water

Marinara Sauce
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 28-ounce can chunky tomatoes
1 28-ounce can tomato purée
1/2 teaspoon salt

Tofu Ricotta
8 ounces extra firm tofu, rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced into ribbons or chiffonade
1/2 cup canned olives (I like Santa Barbara brand’s ripe green olives in a can)
1 1/2 teaspoons capers, drained

OR

Herbed Macadamia Ricotta
1 1/2 cups macadamia nuts, soaked 4 hours or longer and drained
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
1 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced into ribbons or chiffonade
1 cup coarsely chopped green or black olives

Cashew Cheese Sauce
1 cup raw cashews, soaked and drained
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed

Garnish
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped pine nuts
2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley

Directions
1. Pasta: Into a 9 x 12-inch baking dish, add noodles, and cover with boiling water. Let sit about 15 to 25 minutes until al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. Marinara Sauce: In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat olive oil and add onion. Sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently until onions are translucent. Add mushrooms and cook 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, oregano, basil, rosemary, and fennel. Reduce heat to low. Add tomatoes and purée. Cover loosely, simmering for 30 minutes. Add salt and cook another 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F.

3. Ricotta:

Tofu: In a food processor, purée tofu, oil, garlic, lemon juice, and salt until smooth. Then, add basil, olives, and capers. Pulse 2-3 times for a rough chop. Set aside.

Macadamia: In a food processor, purée macadamia nuts, water, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt for one minute. Scrape down sides and purée another minute, until light and fluffy. Transfer to a bowl and fold in parsley,

4. Cashew Cheese Sauce: In a blender, process all ingredients until completely smooth.

5. Assemble: Lightly cover bottom of 9 x 12-inch baking dish with marinara to prevent noodles from sticking to dish. Arrange a layer of noodles, spread a third of the ricotta over noodles and then a third of the cheese sauce, and top with a quarter of the remaining marinara. Repeat layers with remaining ingredients, sprinkle top with pine nuts, and cover with foil. Place baking dish on a sheet pan to catch any drips in oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 20 minutes until sauce bubbles. Cool for 15 minutes, garnish with fresh parsley, and serve hot.

Pro-tips

  • Make the sauce and cheeses up to one week in advance and then when you’re ready to bake, boil up the pasta, assemble, transfer to the baking dish, and pop it into the oven.
  • This dish freezes well, so make a double batch and freeze one for quick-and-easy lunches or mid-week dinners.
  • The key to this recipe is to make the cashew cheese ultra-smooth. A standard blender will work by scraping down the sides and blending for several cycles. Rub a little of the cheese between your index finger and thumb to make sure it's completely smooth. For super-creamy cashew cheese sauce, consider a high-speed blender your new best friend.

Jazz It Up!

  • Use vegan pesto instead of the red sauce, or add your favorite additions like mushrooms, olives, or artichoke hearts.
  • Top with red chile flakes for an added zip of spice.


© Recipe by Allison Rivers Samson, Wellness Coach, award-winning vegan chef and author of 
Quick + Easy DIY Salad BarThe Dairy-Freedom Cookbook, Comfortably Yum, and Co-Founder of The Dairy Detox.

Photo credit: Hannah Kaminsky

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