I’m beginning to think I’m obsessed with lasagna but in reality it’s something I only eat around the holidays. I did however make a few perfect lasagnas back to back and they truly need to be documented- first for my friends and second so I don’t forget! If one were to go through my blog, they would find so many lasagnas. One day it’s about raw lasagna, the next without pasta and then just trial & error. Today’s blog is just simply… “perfect vegan lasagna”. I nailed it! Yes, I can take joy in that – if you only knew the number of experiments. I’m a virgo perfectionist and a diehard Italian pastaholic – don’t forget that.
First things first, they may revoke my Italian status here, but I used “oven ready” whole wheat lasagna noodles. I have never done this before. This time my focus was in the filling and hoping it wouldn’t melt away into vegan watery vegetable land nor burn in it’s attempt to make a sweet potato perfectly soft. Did I say sweet potato? Yes I did. Hey my Grandmother, may she rest in peace, was the best pasta/ best sauce maker and best baker that I know of. Sorry Mom and sorry to my brother Rob – they both fight for title every holiday and I’m not even allowed in because mine is “special”. Anyway, my Grama.. she always tossed a pinch of sugar in there. Luckily, GMOs weren’t around back then! The sweet potato is my way of adding in some sweetness, healthy fiber and a vegetable that won’t disintegrate like a zucchini I once knew.
I wanted to add my meat too. I know.. one day I hate the word and the next it’s mine to empower. Whatever.. I wanted my vegan meat layer and I used soy crumbles and mushrooms to get it. My sauce of course is always on point; thanks Grama! Next up.. Daiya cheese. Again.. to cheese or not to cheese and then to call it cheese or not to call it cheese. I’m in a simplistic mood right now so vegan cheese it is and the best melted vegan cheese out there hands down and slammed shut. Mozzarella shredded style to be exact. Be careful not to use too much like me or you will be swimming in lasagna fondue. Spinach – talk about disintegrating. I don’t use frozen; I use fresh and a lot of it due to shrinkage. A lot- get a few bags or bunches. I outed myself again by saying bags. This is a shortcut perfect lasagna. Ready to bake lasagna, bags of spinach and sweet potato puree to avoid having to bake the sweet potatoes first. For the record, I don’t boil any vegetables unless making a broth or soup. This lasagna is really for a party- not so much something I would eat every week- at all!
- Italian canned tomatoes, usually crushed but maybe one or two as puree. I like Tuttorossa and Sclafani. I use at least (4) 28oz cans. Always go more! (5) cans is good! I usually make 2 big trays.
- Tomato paste – the small cans. I use 1 or 2.
- Fresh basil
- Olive oil
- Spices – salt, pepper, oregano, hot chili flakes if you can handle it etc.
I start with an olive oil, onion and garlic sauté; then I add one can of paste and simmer. After a few minutes I add the sauce cans and water. Give it time. Add spices in too as you are taste testing.
- I used Boca soy crumbles. There are a few different brands so feel free to experiment. Boca makes PETA’s favorite vegan substitutes list.
- I used portabella mushrooms. Again.. experiment! Mushrooms are king in the health world.
- I am a spice girl! Well, not the London kind although I love them. I like my spices so I use them intensely here – bay leaf, basil, oregano, chili flakes, pepper, salt etc.
I also began this sauté with olive oil, onions and garlic.
- First I put a little oil in the baking dish and a little sauce to prevent sticking. Then I placed in the bottom layer of pasta. I think I used about 1 1/2 boxes per tray. Again, buy more so you don’t have to run out later!
- Then I layered on the vegan meat.
- I added dollops of sweet potato puree. I’d say 1/2 to 3/4 can of organic sweet potato puree. I have made it with thin slices of baked sweet potato but the puree melts in more perfectly. Trust me.
- Another layer of pasta.
- A plentiful layer of sauce and Daiya cheese
- Another layer of pasta
- A heavy full layer of spinach. Press down gently.
- The top layer of pasta with sauce on top to cover it nicely and some Daiya cheese. Make sure you get sauce in all the corners too so it doesn’t dry out.
Bake, set, cut, eat! Approximately 45 minutes baking time at 350 degrees. Be careful not to use too much salt with the vegan meat and sauce because the Boca and Daiya have salt too.
Party time- have fun!