cheese

vegan ricotta cheese

Growing up in an Italian household pasta was a diet staple, always served with a slow simmered homemade sauce. I knew I was really in for a special treat when I saw Mom’s lasagna go into the oven. I wish I could say I carried on the tradition of a Sunday sauce that simmered on the stove for hours, but just learning how to cook in my late 30’s, I’m entirely too comfortable popping open a jar of my favorite organic sauce plucked from the grocery shelves. Ricotta though, a good vegan version is something I longed for and although some good options are turning up in grocers across the country, they’ve yet to make it to my local store shelves. 

I’ve tried a variety of my own, such as a cauliflower walnut combo, which were all fine substitutions but I was surprised to learn that my absolute favorite is a tofu based ricotta. As in eat it by the spoonful right from the jar. This works well to stuff in shells, to top pizza, and of course, lasagna. I make a double batch to properly fill a standard size lasagna with a little bit left over to plop on all those leftover broken lasagna noodle pieces or spread on a good rustic bread drizzled with balsamic vinegar and basil.

vegan tofu ricotta

You can find the recipe for the tofu ricotta below but here’s our quick lasagna assembly recipe that comes together in a breeze with store bought noodles, sauce, and the wonderfully convenient and delicious vegan protein products by Gardein.

  • For the lasagna, I prepared lasagna noodles according to the package.
  • I heated Gardein Meatless Italian Sausage crumbles (beefless crumbles work well too) until warm. I then pulsed them in a food processor for a few seconds to break them into tinier pieces for a meat sauce texture.
  • I returned the sausage to the saucepan and stirred in our go-to jar of sauce,
  • I steamed 4 cups of fresh spinach (or use frozen spinach right from the freezer) and layered everything along with the tofu ricotta in the following order: I lay down sauce in the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking, a layer of noodles, slather on the ricotta and top with spinach, then a layer of noodles topped with the meatless sauce, then repeat the cheese and sauce layers one more time and finally end with a little extra sauce and grated vegan parm, if you’d like.
  • I then bake the lasagna for an hour at 375 (or I crank it up to 425 when I’m particularly impatient!). I don’t like to live off of convenience foods but it’s times like this when I’m really thankful for Gardein products! 
Tofu Ricotta Cheese
Stuff into shells, top a pizza, or make a double batch for a lasagna - this creamy ricotta fool any omnivore!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 block (14 oz) extra firm tofu
  2. 3/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk, I used rice
  3. 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  4. 1 teaspoons nutritional yeast
  5. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  6. 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  7. 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  8. 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  9. 1/2 teaspoon parsley
  10. 1/4 teaspoon garlic
Instructions
  1. Drain and press the tofu until all liquid is released, pat tofu dry
  2. Crumble the tofu into a food processor and add in remaining ingredients. Pulse until well combined ensuring not to over-process it as you want a bit of texture.
  3. Use immediately or store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Notes
  1. Double the batch for a standard 9 x 13 lasagna.
Adapted from The Gentle Chef
Adapted from The Gentle Chef
Cara Schrock http://caraschrock.com/

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