Vegan Lasagna with Tofu 'Ricotta'

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Yes, I am on a road to veganize all my favourite foods. When I can, if I can. So have I turned vegan? Quite simply, the answer is no. Maybe 'not yet' is more appropriate. For sure I am eating so much less meat, and almost not anymore at home. I have been known to pick up a roast chicken at Costco once in a while because I was er ... 'faint from hunger' LOL! And hoped that there was rice when I got home. But for the most part, we don't cook meat at home. Much to the delight and relief of my vegan kids. Vegan, to varying degrees, though I would place it as 90 to 99% of the time. Me? I'd be 80% of the time. I still have a hankering for sushi, if not anything else.

But at home, we cook vegan almost all the time, and most dishes are quick and easy, and seriously delicious. Well today, I had time. And I knew I had a stash of lasagna from two weeks ago when I got them on a promotional price (read: sale) at Superstore. Also, I had Michael get some eggplants the day before. I was finally ready to tackle this recipe.

Seriously, I was impressed. Loved the marinara, loved the eggplant filling, and the tofu 'ricotta' layer held up and looked and tasted dang good! Sold!

Not crazy about eggplants? You can most definitely get some other roasted vegetables in there, squash, zucchini or mushrooms. Heck, even a thick layer of spinach will do. But put something in there coz red and white and pasta just does not a lasagna make. Insert numerous hashtags of living colourfully here!


Eggplant filling:

1 kg (2 lbs) about 2 large aubergines (purple eggplants)
1 tbsp kosher salt
vegetable oil (for searing)
salt and pepper

Marinara sauce:

60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
4 bay leaves
1 large onion, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1.5 kg (3 lbs) canned whole or chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp savoury
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
2 tbsp capers
salt and pepper, to taste
Bunch of basil leaves, chiffonade

Eggplant marinade/soak:

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp parsley flakes
1 tsp dried chili flakes
1 tsp kosher salt

Tofu 'ricotta':

1 kg (2 lbs) medium firm tofu, pressed and drained
Zest from 2 large lemons
Juice from 1 large lemon
6 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp kosher salt

Lasagna layers:

340 g lasagna sheets (3/4 of a box - about 12 pcs)
4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp kosher salt


A. Cut and prep:

1. Cut the eggplant across in 3 mm (1/8 inch) slices, lay them on 2 baking sheets and sprinkle half the reserved salt over them. Turn them over after 15 minutes and sprinkle the remaining salt on top of it.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the marinade/soak ingredients and set this aside.
3. Mince the onion and garlic and set aside.
4. Lay a clean tea towel or several sheets of paper towels over the cutting board and lay the tofu over it, pressing it down with a heavy object (I used one of the baking sheets)
5. Chiffonade the basil leaves by stacking, rolling, then finely slicing them. Set aside.

B. Make the marinara:

6. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil with the bay leaves, then sweat the onions and garlic.
7. When onions have turned translucent, push them to one side of the pan, then cook the tomato paste for about 2 minutes.
8. Mix the paste with the onions and garlic and cook a further 1 minute, then add the canned tomatoes, savoury, oregano and basil.
9. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring now and then.
10. Add the capers, then taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly.

C. Cook the eggplant: (while simmering the marinara)

11. In a frypan, heat the vegetable oil.
12. Wipe the eggplant slices before searing them on the frypan. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper as you cook them.
13. Place the cooked eggplant in a towel lined baking sheet.
14. When done, toss the slices in the marinade/soak.

D. Make the tofu 'ricotta':

15. Crumble the tofu into a blender, then add the rest of the ingredients.
16. Process until it resembles a thick paste.
17. Taste and season, adding more lemon juice, nutritional yeast, or salt as necessary.

E. Boil the pasta:

18. In a large stockpot, bring water to a boil, add the oil and salt, then the lasagna sheets.
19 Cook for the recommended time.
20. With tongs, carefully lift the sheets and lay them on an oiled baking sheet (you didn't wash them yet after the eggplant, now did you?)

F. Assembly:

21. Preheat the oven to 180 C or 350F.
22. Take your deep baking or roasting pan 33x22 cm (13x9 inch) and ladle a layer of marinara sauce on the bottom.
23. Place 3 lasagna sheets on top, followed by a layer of the tofu 'ricotta'.
24. Arrange 1/3 of the eggplant slices on the tofu layer, then cover with marinara sauce and a 1/3 of the basil chiffonade.
25. Repeat #23 and #24 again, and again. And you are left with a marinara layer on top.
Now since my pan was extra deep and I had extra lasagna sheets, I made another layer topping it off with the tofu 'ricotta'. Just make sure you leave about 3-5 mm (1/6 to 1/8th inch) so it doesn't overflow.
26. Place the baking pan on a clean baking sheet (yep, those ones are still coming in handy) and place it in the oven to bake for 50 minutes, until the sauce bubbles from the sides and threatens to overflow.
27. Sprinkle the top with fresh basil leaves to serve.

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