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The Best Damn Vegan Lasagna

By Sam Davis

contributor for The Science of Fitness

I LOVE lasagna. Yep. When my husband and I first started eating a vegan diet I went into a slight state of foodie depression thinking I would never taste an ooey, gooey, rock-my-world lasagna again. The only options I believed to be in my foreseeable future were those of the frozen variety. Yuck.

But like a big girl (metaphorically speaking), I picked myself up and went to work in hopes of creating a tasty, hearty Italian dish we could add to our monthly roster. Many versions of vegan lasagna have been created in my kitchen - some were pretty good, some definitely better than others, and some we had to give up on after the first bite. There really hadn’t been one that stood out to us just yet, something we would get excited about.

Apologies to my husband for those nights we ate the soupy lasagna and again for the time we had The Blandest Damn Lasagna. ← Some people just should not be able to post things to the internet.

How can you even go wrong with lasagna?? It’s a casserole-like dish that you should literally be able to throw anything into, bake it, and pop out a masterpiece (cue the unicorns and rainbows). Not so much in the world of vegan recipes, my friends. The ooey, gooey, cheesy element is oftentimes just gone, especially for us since my husband doesn’t like the aftertaste of many vegan cheeses (feel free to leave your recommendations for vegan cheeses in the comments!)  I felt duped in some cases, following recipes with 4 to 5 star reviews, yet the taste was somewhere in the range of watery and un-eatable.

I ain’t a quitter though. One night I was trying yet another recipe and had a thought (rare, but true) → Why not put all the things I love from my lasagna trial and error together? Hello! Let’s just see what happens, ya know.

Well, I have to admit. It turned out to be pretty damn good. In fact, it was the best vegan lasagna we (I include my taste tester/husband in my R&D efforts here) had ever made. Our non-vegan friends and family like it too!

After creating this outstanding vegan masterpiece, I started finding and making a slew of delicious vegan recipes - ahem, thank you Pinterest. Stay tuned for another vegan lasagna recipe using butternut squash and spinach. Trust me, you will want to try this!

But for now, please enjoy the best damn vegan lasagna.

→ Prep time: 15-20 minutes

→ Cook time: ~45 minutes

→ Serves up to 8 people

What you need:

  • 1 small sweet yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or minced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • ~30 oz. of your favorite marinara sauce
  • 1 ½ tsp Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp garlic salt
  • 6-8 oven ready vegan-friendly lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup plain, vegan-friendly panko bread crumbs

The Simple Veganista’s Cashew Ricotta Cheese

  • 1 ½ cups raw cashews (soaked for about an hour)
  • ½ cup water
  • Juice of one large lemon OR 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 T nutritional yeast (I use 2T)
  • 1 garlic clove (I use 2 cloves)
  • Dash of garlic powder
  • Himalayan sea salt and cracked pepper

Optional topping: Vegan Parmesan Cheese from The Minimalist Baker

Get to work!

1.  Sauté your chopped onion and garlic in olive oil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes.

2.  Add the Gardein Ultimate Beefless Ground. Mix and cook on medium high heat until heated throughout, about 5 minutes.

3.  While your beefless ground, onion and garlic concoction is cooking, go ahead and get started on your cashew ricotta cheese. Follow these instructions from The Simple Veganista. You’ll need a high speed blender or food processor.

4.  You can start layering when your beefless ground/onion/garlic blend and cashew ricotta cheese are ready, I use an 8x11 dish and it works perfectly.

5.  Add a hearty layer of marinara to the bottom of the dish, about ⅓ of what you have.

6.  Top with oven ready lasagna noodles. I actually break mine up into large pieces to fit the dish. Highly suggested unless you’re looking for that perfect “wavy lasagna” photo.

7.  If you have it, use a tablespoon cookie dough scoop to evenly drop the cashew ricotta cheese across the lasagna noodles. Just use a spoon or something similar if you don’t have a scoop.

8.  Slightly flatten these scoops with a silicone spatula and add half of your beefless ground blend on top.

9.  Next, add another ⅓ of your marinara sauce, saving the rest for the top. Be sure to cover all the noodles with the marinara sauce or they will not cook correctly.

10.  Make another layer of noodles, cashew ricotta and beefless ground (steps 6 through 8).

11.  Add the final layer of marinara sauce.

12.  Evenly distribute panko bread crumbs across the top.

13.  Lightly cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

14.  After 35 minutes, uncover and bake another 10 minutes to get the crispy top coating.

Eat and Enjoy!