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Summer Veggie Lasagna (V/GF) . A plant-based recipe that's loaded with fresh veggies and marinara, my go-to vegan "ricotta" and whole-wheat lasagna noodles.
Guys. It's me and super healthy Summer Veggie Lasagna here, and to be honest, I couldn't be more excited about it.
Whole-food, healthy, saucy, yummy things ahead.
Before we embrace the wonder that is "good for you" lasagna, let's give a little shout out to the good old fashioned Italian meat and cheese lasagna.
Yes, LASAGNA. This is the food of my Italian upbringing. I'm talking about the type of lasagna that is thick with melty cheese and loaded with TONS of sausage, beef and Grandma's homemade marinara- the one that is spectacular in the way that only a true homemade Italian lasagna can be. Family get together? You know there's gonna be lasagna, and you know that everyone is gonna be loving it.
Before we get into the miracle of this updated Summer Veggie Lasagna that is *gasp* VEGAN (no meat, no cheese) let's get one thing straight. My heart has nothing but LOADS of love and appreciation for the original lasagna and I'm NOT trying to replace it. And if I am completely honest, I'm not even expecting to win over the die-hard Italian Grandmother type cooks with my new fangled version. That's ok. This Summer Veggie Lasagna can be it's own type of thing can't it?
Keeping it real... a few things I need to get off my chest.
- I replaced traditional ricotta cheese with TOFU.
Wait! Stop! Don't click that little red circle in the upper right hand corner of your computer. Let me explain!!!
I know.. tofu might be a bit of a personal stretch and the recipe is now questionably "hippy." But you guys, that's not a bad thing. I'm going to tell it like it is.. I have never cooked with tofu before. I have never wanted to taste tofu before. Buuutt.. when you are making plant-based lasagna you need something to fill in for the creamy cheesy texture. You've got to believe me when I tell you that this tofu ricotta is creamy, garlicky, herby, delicious, and a VERY convincing replacement for the real thing. Added bonus.. tofu is loaded with protein (think 10g/serving) and contains less than 100 calories per serving, and takes less than 5 minutes to toss together. Trading it for cheese.. well, it's kind of no brainer.
Ok.. can you handle just one more tiny thing????
2. I didn't use homemade marinara sauce.
In the spirit of full disclosure .. I'm going to make a confession. I almost never do. Following a whole-foods diet requires me to make almost ALL THE THINGS from scratch. It's hard to find convenience foods that are made from real -food ingredients and don't contain funky additives. When I find something that I can buy pre-made.. well, that's what I'm going to do. Because the quality of the sauce is important in this situation (I mean, it's one of literally 3 components that makes up this lasagna), I opted for Prego© Farmers' Market Classic Marinara that is newly available at Wal-Mart. The flavor is amazing and the ingredients are farm-fresh, simple and pronounceable. Most important.. the taste is delightful - just like Grandma made it!
This lasagna is simple to assemble, requiring only 20-minutes prep. It's light, healthy, delicious, veggie-loaded and nutrient dense. Basically it's the kind of food that gets me most excited in the world traditional meets healthy plant-based ❤️.
It starts with a layer of classic marinara sauce to ensure that the noodles have enough moisture to cook properly. Then we add a single layer of noodles, cover them in a thick creamy layer of tofu - ricotta, and then pile on loads of farm fresh summer veggies that have been smothered in yummy marinara. REPEAT and top with vegan parmesan (recipe link in helpful hint section below) if desired and bake. That's it. Dinner done.
Time Saving Tips and Tricks:
Prep: All the different components of this lasagna (veggies/marinara and ricotta) can be prepped 1-2 days ahead of time. Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the lasagna.
Make Ahead: Lasagna is PERFECT for make ahead meals. Follow recipe instructions, but instead of baking, cover with plastic wrap and store the lasagna in the refrigerator for 1-3 days. When ready to serve, remove from fridge and allow lasagna to come to room temperature. Follow recipe baking instructions.
Freezer: Yep, lasagna works in the fridge too. Follow recipe instructions, but instead of baking, lay a sheet of plastic directly onto the lasagna. Press down gently. Cover the baking dish with a second piece of plastic wrap. Store for 1-3 months. When ready to serve, remove from freezer and allow lasagna to thaw overnight in the fridge. Remove from fridge 1 hour prior to baking. Follow recipe baking instructions.
- 1 TBS olive oil + ¼ cup cup olive oil for ricotta
- 2 bell peppers, diced
- 2 zucchini, diced
- 1 yellow squash, diced
- 6 oz. mushrooms, sliced
- 1 jar Prego© Farmers' Market Classic Marinara
- 14 oz extra firm tofu (drained and pressed)
- ½ cup lightly packed basil + extra for garnish
- 2 TBS lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 TBS nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- pepper to taste
- no-cook lasagna noodles, whole wheat recommended
- Heat oven to 400 degrees.
- VEGGIES: Heat 1 TBS olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until tender crisp, about 5 minutes. Add marinara (reserve about 3 TBS), reduce heat to medium and cover. Allow veggies to continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Remove lid from pan and simmer until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.
- VEGAN RICOTTA CHEESE: Add tofu, ¼ cup olive oil, basil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until ingredients are fully incorporated and mixture is the consistency of ricotta. Set aside.
- ASSEMBLY: Cover the bottom of a 9x9 inch pan with remaining 3 TBS of marinara sauce. Make a single layer of noodles, cover with ricotta, top with veggie/marinara. Repeat 2 or 3 times depending on thickness of layers.
- BAKING INSTRUCTIONS: Loosely cover lasagna with foil. Bake for 40 minutes. Uncover. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes prior to servings. Garnish with reserved basil and vegan parmesan cheese (optional).
- Prego© Farmers' Market Classic Marinara.
- Nutritional yeast is an ingredient that is becoming much easier to find. It is available in the healthy living section of most grocery stores.
- If you can't find no cook lasagna noodles you can use regular, but man.. those no bake lasagna noodles make thing So. Much. Easier.
- Make sure to drain the tofu REALLY well. You don't want watery ricotta. I usually place the block of tofu into a colander and then use paper towels to squeeze the water out.
- To make recipe gluten-free use gluten-free lasagna noodles or sub thinly sliced zucchini for noodles.
- Looking for low-carb? Sub out noodles for thinly sliced zucchini noodles. It doesn't hold together as well, but it still tastes great!
- Here is my favorite recipe for Vegan Parmesan Cheese.
- Looking for more healthy whole-food recipes? Check out Simply Sissom on Pinterest. If you like it, follow! New pins are added daily from my favorite bloggers from around the web!
- You can also find Simply Sissom on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook . Check it out, if you like what you see.. follow?!
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