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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The absolute best vegan lasagna recipes on the internet

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From classic Bolognese-style to Italian-American versions with ricotta, here are the best of the best vegan lasagna recipes.

So what if you can’t buy a vegan lasagna from Sainsbury’s anymore? It might contain milk, pork and beef — in addition to the butternut squash and lentils, of course — but that shouldn’t deter you away from a stick-to-your-ribs lasagna.

In fact, the Sainsbury’s product recall is almost a blessing in disguise. When better to spend some time making your own lasagna than now? I know that ready-to-eat meals exist because we don’t all have hours to cook, but given that they can also be unreliable in their claim to be animal-free, why not take a leap and build a no-holds-barred lasagna to your liking?

Some of the most highly acclaimed recipe websites on the internet have their own version of a plant-based lasagna. Some follow the traditional lasagna alla Bolognese, some feature a spin on the ricotta-based Italian-American layered dish, and others are unique takes on the classic dish.

Most vegan lasagne use some combination of tofu, cashews and cauliflower to achieve the white part of the dish. Some only use one of these ingredients. Some are time-intensive, while others are straightforward and quick. There’s something for everyone.

Here are the absolute best vegan lasagna recipes to help you create your own one.

Vegan Lasagna alla Bolognese by Serious Eats

serious eats vegan lasagnaSerious Eats has two vegan lasagna recipes — an Italian-American ricotta version, and this, the Bolognese. Both are incredible, but since a few of the other recipes in this list also use some form of vegan ricotta, I decided to shine some light on the Bolognese, which in this case is a combination of vegan béchamel and ragù Bolognese.

Developed by Daniel Gritzer, the website’s culinary director, the recipe uses his concept of flavour smokescreens for vegan alternatives to traditional meat and dairy. For the béchamel, he infuses almond milk with aromatics like thyme, garlic and whole peppercorns, and after straining it, adds nutmeg and some white or black pepper.

This is paired with a meaty ragù made from seitan and mushrooms. It starts with a mirepoix and relies on both tomato paste and whole peeled tomatoes, with flavourful additions like red wine, bay leaf, rosemary, sage, red miso, dark soy sauce, and nutmeg.

It’s a recipe big on flavour, opting for technique over the number of components. This isn’t a full-on vegetable-packed lasagna — but the seitan and mushroom sauce paired with the incredible béchamel will warm your soul.

Vegan Vegetable Lasagna by America’s Test Kitchen

america's test kitchen vegan lasagnaThis, however, is a hearty, vegetable-packed version. Developed by the legendary America’s Test Kitchen, this vegan lasagna recipe really does go all out, and it’s one for a night when you want to spend some time in the kitchen, drink in hand and chill music/podcast playing in the background. It also serves eight to 10 people.

This lasagna opts for a cashew-cauliflower duo to mimic ricotta. In the recipe notes, the cooks explain that they went through loads of “dairy-free béchamel sauces (pasty and off-tasting), tofu-based fillings (strong soy flavor), and vegan mozzarella-style cheeses (artificial taste and plasticky texture)”, but found that cashews and cauliflower were a winning combination.

The tomato sauce is simple and classic, with crushed and diced tomatoes, basil, garlic, sugar, red pepper flakes and olive oil. The ricotta is flavoured with olive oil and basil. As for the vegetables, the test kitchen uses the trio of white mushrooms, aubergines and courgettes, with some garlic and olive oil to add to their flavour.

All the vegetables are roasted, and once layered into the lasagna, the dish goes in for 45 to 50 minutes. The recipe asks you to wait a full 25 minutes and let the lasagna cool, but I’ll let you decide if you can.

Green Lasagna Rolls by Post Punk Kitchen

isa chandra moskowitz lasagnaLasagna rolls are the kind of food you’d think are made popular by Tasty. This vegan version by the revered Isa Chandra Moskowitz from Post Punk Kitchen ditches the tomato sauce, instead focusing on the white and green.

There are four components: a white sauce, pesto, ricotta and spinach. The white sauce is just softened cashews blended with water, cornstarch and sea salt, in an effort to make it a thick and creamy sauce. The ricotta is tofu-based, but instead of using silken or soft tofu like many recipes do, this calls for crumbled extra-firm. That’s blended with the pesto, nutritional yeast, olive oil and lemon juice.

The pesto itself is the most interesting. It’s not your typical basil pesto. No, it’s pumpkin seed pesto, flavoured with garlic, olive oil, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and black pepper. Then there’s the spinach, which is sautéd with a ton of garlic and some olive oil.

This is the one recipe where you can’t use no-boil noodles — or at least, you can’t avoid boiling them. That’s because the cooked noodles are individually filled with the spinach and ricotta. These are then smothered with the cashew sauce, baked, and then finished with the pesto. It’s a labour of love, but it’s worth all the effort.

Vegan Lasagna with Roasted Vegetables by Food52

vegan lasagna recipeNutritionist and recipe developer Gena Hamshaw, who developed this roasted vegetable lasagna for Food52, calls it the “perfect summer lasagna”, and I’m inclined to agree.

It’s quite easy to put together, and greater than the sum of its parts. The dish relies on a base of the classic combination of aubergines and courgettes, both of which are cut into strips. The aubergine is salted and rested to remove some of the moisture. The vegetables are then tossed with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, and roasted for 25 minutes.

Then there’s a tofu ricotta — and a whole load of it. The recipe calls for two packs of extra-firm tofu, which is crumbled by hand. That’s another great thing about the recipe — you don’t need a blender. In the tofu bowl goes some nutritional yeast, garlic, oregano, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. This is crumbled more until it resembles ricotta.

Hamshaw uses jarred marinara sauce here, which adds to the convenience. You can, of course, make your own sauce if you fancy. It’s all baked for 40 minutes and topped with basil. It’s easy, straightforward, convenient, and downright delicious.

Vegan Lasagna by Bon Appétit

zucchini vegan lasagnaThe final recipe on this list is Bon Appétit’s courgette — or zucchini, as the US calls it — lasagna. Instead of using pasta sheets, this recipe banks on courgette stips, making for a lighter dish altogether.

It’s probably the simplest recipe on this list. Tricia Williams, who developed this when she was working at the magazine in 2011, calls for a mandoline for precision. But most households don’t have one, and some careful slicing should do the trick. These are then baked for 10 minutes, or until soft.

The courgettes are met with some homemade tomato sauce (there’s no recipe, so you could just go by instinct), and what the magazine calls a “basil-cashew cream”. This comprises some raw cashews, blanched and shocked basil leaves, salt and water, all blended in a processor.

All that is put together and baked for 45 minutes. The result is a light yet filling lasagna with a refreshing courgette base. And the best part? You can have this hot or cold.

Read our interview with Chrissy Tracey, Bon Appétit’s first vegan host.

Anay Mridul
Anay is the managing editor of The Vegan Review. A journalism graduate from City, University of London, he was a barista for three years, and never shuts up about coffee. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford Comma. Originally from India, he went vegan in 2020, after attempting (and failing) Veganuary. He believes being environmentally conscious is a basic responsibility, and veganism is the best thing you can do to battle climate change. He gets lost at Whole Foods sometimes.