Any Weird Al fans out there remember his song “Lasagna,” that parodied “La Bamba?” I get that song stuck in my head whenever I make lasagna. Such is life when you’re a giant nerd, but there’s worse things in the world.
Moving on. This lasagna is not only vegan, but gluten free and low fat and just generally smug about how nutritious it is. Instead of ricotta cheese it has a tofu and cauliflower blend, and instead of noodles it has strips of eggplant and zucchini. After writing that I realize that to many people those substitutions probably sound sort of awful, but you’re just going to have to take my word for it that this actually does taste like a nice hearty lasagna. Or make the recipe and report back that I’m crazy, whichever you prefer.
It does take a little while to make (maybe about 1 1/2 hours total, including 45 minutes cooking time) but that’s pretty much par for the course with any lasagna. I actually felt like this came together faster than most lasagnas I’ve made, vegan or not. It makes enough to fill an 8″x8″ pan pretty full, so that’s about 4-6 servings depending on how Garfield-like you’re feeling.
So first you just peel and slice 1 medium sized zucchini and 1 medium sized eggplant. You could use a mandolin if you’ve got one, but I just used a regular knife and tried to get them as thin as I could. These will be your “noodles.” Roast them on a cookie sheet under the broiler for 2-3 minutes on each side. Then roast a chopped up head of cauliflower for 10 minutes at 450, then flip and roast for another 15. While that’s going down, crumble up a package of tofu in a large bowl until it has the texture of ricotta cheese. Mix in a bit of nutritional yeast, some lemon juice, and when the cauliflower is done throw that in too and mash it all together. I used an immersion blender to get it nice and smooth.
Then you get to do the layers! Here’s a photo breakdown of the assembly steps:
It goes: Sauce, “Noodles,” “Ricotta,” mushrooms, spinach, sauce, noodles, ricotta, mushrooms, spinach, start to get a little nervous that this isn’t going to fit, sauce, noodles, more sauce, breathe a sigh of relief because it actually did all fit, ricotta, then a nice thick layer of olives to give it a little salty kick. You could also use thin slices of fresh tomato on top if you don’t like olives.
Then just bake it at 350 for 40 minutes or so until it’s browned and bubbling.
I don’t have a photo of the final serving on a plate because I can’t cut and serve a nice looking square of lasagna to save my life (vegan or regular, doesn’t matter, I have a lasagna serving handicap) so you’ll have to just imagine what it looks like sliced up and served.
Gluten Free Vegan Lasagna
The lasagna recipe is from Appetite for Reduction but I swapped out the regular noodles for eggplant and zucchini noodles. You could, of course, use regular noodles. Or just eggplant or just zucchini if you only want one or the other.
For the noodles:
- 1 medium zucchini, peeled and sliced into thin strips
- 1 medium eggplant, peeled and sliced into thin strips
- Ricotta Ingredients:
- 1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound extra firm tofu
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
- 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Several pinches freshly ground black pepper
Red Sauce Ingredients:
- 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes with basil
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1.5 cups chopped fresh spinach (I just used whole baby spinach)
- 1/4 cup chopped or sliced black olives
- 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
Place the zucchini and eggplant on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet in a single layer and heat under the broiler for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from cookie sheet and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Using the same parchment & cookie sheet, spread the cauliflower pieces in a single layer and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake for 10 minutes and then flip and bake for another 15 to 20, until lightly browned and soft.
Meanwhile, crumble the tofu in a mixing bowl, mashing it with your hands until it resembles ricotta cheese. Add nutritional yeast, lemon juice, pepper, and remaining salt. When the cauliflower is done, add it to the tofu mixture and mash it really well (I used an immersion blender, you could also just use a potato masher).
For the red sauce, mix the crushed tomatoes, thyme, garlic, and salt together in a bowl and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In an 8″x8″ casserole, pour a thin layer of red sauce, then add a layer of “noodles.” Evenly spread about 1/3 of the cauliflower ricotta on top of the noodles. Layer 1/2 of the mushrooms and then 1/2 of the spinach. Pour on about a cup of sauce on top of the spinach. Repeat all those steps one more time, starting with the noodles. For the top layer just add noodles, then sauce, then ricotta so that the ricotta is on top. Add a layer of olives last. (Please see my photo series above if this is confusing.)
Bake for about 40 minutes until the top is browned and sauce is bubbling. Let sit for a couple minutes then serve.