Blame it on the tofu, mmmkay?
Tofu ricotta, that is.
I’ll admit, I haven’t always been tofu’s biggest fan.
It tastes bland and needs a lot of help in the flavor department.
It has a strange texture.
It takes an extra 30 minutes to prepare (pressing the tofu to rid of excess water is essential to avoid a soggy mess).
And it’s slightly processed, which I try to avoid.
BUT… let me tell you a little secret.
This ‘Vegan Tofu Ricotta Lasagna‘ recipe has since washed away every single one of my tofu complaints.
The extra 30 minutes of prep? Doesn’t even phase me.
The bland taste? GONE with all the fresh, savory ingredients we are mixing in.
The strange texture? What strange texture? GONE because we prepared it right.
The fact that its slightly processed? Don’t even care because this is GOOD VEGAN COMFORT FOOD and we all need it from time to time.
This recipe is SO worth all of it.
Now is the time when I start begging you to make my lasagna ASAP. Like, right now. Tonight even, because you will fall in love with the dairy free cheesiness and comfort food feel. Be warned, you’ll probably have a moment when you ask yourself, wait, how is this vegan? Like, how? Not even joking.
Not to mention how healthy this meatless lasagna is, or how many greens I packed in (3 zucchini + 3 cups of spinach, to be exact). Or the fact that it’s oil free and can be gluten free by swapping in gluten free lasagna noodles. Or how delightfully easy it is. I mean… I don’t know how something can be so tasty and resemble the real deal so much… but it happened, so we’re going with it.
What makes lasagna the best comfort food ever?
The layers and layers of hearty noodles oozing with tomato basil sauce and cheesy ricotta texture. There’s something about the crumbled tofu mixed with nutritional yeast, tahini, fresh basil, miso and lemon that really sets this dish apart from others I’ve tried. Plus, the fact that it reheats so perfectly (almost better) the next day, kinda like pizza in a way. Hello weekly lunches? Pair it with a leafy green salad for the yummiest winter lunch ever.
Oh, also, your kitchen/house will smell amaaaaaazing. Nutritional yeast is essential for that cheesy flavor, not to mention it’s high in plant protein and energizing B vitamins (like B12). You can purchase nutritional yeast at most grocery stores in the ‘natural/organic’ section, usually by the flours or you can buy it here.
First, crumble the tofu.
Now, mix in all the savory ingredients to make your cheese-like Tofu Ricotta. Mmmm.
I layered the lasagna like this:
thin strips of zucchini
layer of ricotta
layer of spinach
Then, repeat 2 more times with noodles, zucchini, ricotta etc.
Sprinkle the top with italian bread crumbs, nutritional yeast and oregano.
Cover with foil and bake!
I’m trying to have more fun with recipes this year. That’s one of my blog goals for 2017. I want to re-create classic favorites (like this lasagna) and turn them into healthy, plant based vegan versions. Recipes with that “wow factor” that can please anyone and everyone, while also remaining healthy. Recipes people recognize for the name, but actually want to try for the health factor of it.
Not to say that I’m tired of glow bowls because they are my one true love (!!) but I’m tired of the same old thing which is why I’m changing things up around here!
So get excited and go make this Vegan Tofu Ricotta Lasagna.
- 1 14 oz. package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
- 1 tablespoon shallot, chopped small
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons tahini (or plain hummus)
- 1 teaspoon miso (or low-sodium soy sauce/tamari)
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (or more, to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (don't overdo the salt as many other ingredients in this have more than enough salt already!)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional (or more for extra spiciness!)
- 4-5 cups tomato basil marinara sauce (about 1.5 jars), divided
- 12 no-boil lasagna noodles
- 3 zucchini, sliced into super thin, long strips
- 3-4 cups spinach, divided (can also use frozen spinach)
- italian bread crumbs, for topping (optional)
- extra nutritional yeast, for topping (optional)
- extra fresh basil, for topping (optional)
- Start with the tofu. First we need to prep it and remove excess water. Drain the package of tofu then cut into 5 strips. Lay 2 paper towels (or one clean kitchen towel) on a baking sheet. Place tofu strips on top of paper towels. Lay 2 more paper towels over the tofu. Place another baking sheet (or heavy flat-bottomed object) then a fairly heavy book on top of that (because you don't want the book to get wet!) and set aside for 30-40 minutes. This absorbs excess water in tofu. Could also use a tofu press if you have one.
- After the tofu has been pressed, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place tofu in a medium-sized bowl and crumble with a fork until it resembles ricotta cheese and all large clumps are crumbled. Mix in all ingredients for tofu ricotta. Taste test and adjust accordingly. Set aside.
- In a 9x13 in baking dish, spread a thin layer of tomato basil marinara sauce (about 1/2-1 cup). Then do one layer of noodles (3-4; depending on the size of your baking dish) one layer of zucchini strips, tofu ricotta, spinach and sauce. Then repeat for 2 more layers, ending with a layer of noodles, then sauce (don't skimp on the sauce or the noodles will dry out!). Top with breadcrumbs and nutritional yeast.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 50-60 minutes (You want to be sure the zucchini is cooked!).
- Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before removing foil and cutting.
- Pair with a leafy green salad.
- To save on baking time, lightly steam zucchini strips before layering in dish.
- It helps to divide out the tofu ricotta into three parts, so you know how much you can use for each layer. I ended up with 3 layers of ricotta and zucchini and 4 layers of noodles, if that helps.