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.
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!
- 1 block (14 oz) extra firm tofu
- 3/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk, I used rice
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic
- Drain and press the tofu until all liquid is released, pat tofu dry
- 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.
- Use immediately or store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Double the batch for a standard 9 x 13 lasagna.