I’ve had the pleasure of eating this lasagna bit by bit over the last two days. Even the leftovers have been great! I’ve been craving comfort foods now and this was an excellent meal to satisfy that craving! I think my internal clock knows that the fall is coming and it’s time for warm and cozy meals. I haven’t done a lasagna in a couple of years so I’m thrilled to have this recipe added to the collection. As the title states it really is, ‘THE ULTIMATE VEGETABLE LASAGNA’! At least I see it that way. It’s plant-based perfection for this lasagna loving girl. It’s also the only one I would ever need but as a foodie I must explore more of them and happily there are many more to try and bring to the recipe collection! This lasagna is a bit different from the last one I did and is a bit more involved, but not by much. You can trust when I say it will be worth every minute of your time to create this cozy and comforting meal. It’s filled with simple vegetables and an incredible cashew ricotta cheese. Those of you who are skeptical of a cashew ricotta cheese because of the fat content should consider that once broken down into servings you’re only getting 9 grams of fat from the cashews (and not much more from everything else). That is less fat than a serving of potato chips. Don’t be afraid and get yourself some cashew ricotta, it’s a true winner here! Let’s all eat in peace and enjoy this lasagna often! Bon appetit…
Lots of simple, fresh produce will make up the bulk of the filling. The produce here is considered more of a ‘summer’ variety but is widely available in California year around. I hope wherever you are that you can find these ingredients easily or use something similar in its place. I’ve also used a packaged frozen spinach which I don’t have shown here but will be added to the cashew ricotta (as shown below). If using fresh spinach, use 10 oz. or so, steam until wilted and chop.
Cook your vegetables until al dente. Mix cashew ricotta and spinach (so delicious just like this!). The cashew ricotta is an amazing replacement for dairy ricotta. It does such a great job and I know once you try it you’re going to love it!
Layer your ingredients. Cover and bake. Doesn’t look like much once done. But…
After it’s rested give the final touch with a sprinkle of almond parmesan and basil. Much better! Slice and serve this most delicious, dairy free lasagna. I bet you’ll never know the ricotta is made from cashews!
THE ULTIMATE VEGETABLE LASAGNA
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 yellow squash, diced
- 8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, thyme, basil or marjoram, optional
- 1 package (10 – 12 oz.) frozen spinach, thawed and drained
- 1 jar (25 – 28 oz.) marinara/pasta sauce
- 12 lasagna noodles (approx.), regular or no-boil
- 2 cups cashew ricotta cheese
- salt & fresh cracked pepper
- almond parmesan, for garnish
- fresh basil leaves, julienned, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cook noodles according to package directions, set aside. If using no boil lasagna noodles like I did there is no need to cook first.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat, add onion and saute for about 5 minutes. Add carrots and cook another 3 minutes. Add zucchini, squash, mushrooms, herbs/seasonings and good pinch of salt, continue to saute for another 2 minutes. We don’t need to saute the zucchini, squash and mushrooms too much, we want their juices to fully release while baking. Remove from heat.
Mix together the cashew ricotta and spinach, mix well.
Using a large rectangular baking dish (9 x 12) place about 1/3 cup of sauce on the bottom of the dish spreading to coat, add a layer of pasta, top with 1/2 ricotta cheese and 1/2 vegetables. Add another layer of pasta, 1/2 of the remaining sauce, then the rest of the ricotta, then vegetables. Add one more layer of pasta and top with the remaining sauce. Cover with lid, small silpat or foil. Bake in the center rack for 40 minutes. Let rest covered for 5 minutes, remove cover and let cool 10 minutes. Add a sprinkle of Almond Parmesan and fresh chopped basil or oregano.
To make this well-balanced or if you feel you want extra protein, add a can of white beans (drained and rinsed) or a package of fresh or thawed frozen peas in between the ricotta and vegetables.
If you don’t care for mushrooms, sub in a diced, large red bell pepper.
Edit: Always check your box of noodles before purchasing to make sure they’re vegan. I made this originally with non-vegan noodles on accident. Since then I have sourced a few vegan no boil lasagna noodle options, they are out there and will make your meal come to together even faster without the extra step of boiling. One brand is DeLallo, they have an organic wheat no boil noodle you can try. If using them you may prefer to lay your noodles lengthwise so they have room to stretch when cooking. I placed mine widthwise here and you can see that the noodles scrunched and wrinkled up without much room to stretch. Laying them lengthwise they can stretch with plenty of room and lay flat. But it was still fantastic, wrinkled and all, possibly even better! :)