This hearty vegan lasagna is made with layers of noodles, rich cashew ricotta and hearty mushrooms and lentils simmered in spicy tomato sauce.
This year I was at a bit of a loss as to what to give my family members as holiday gifts. About a week before Christmas it came to me: food! For years my grandfather gave out lasagnas for Christmas (including a cute little vegetarian lasagna for yours truly) and they were always much appreciated. I decided to pick up the tradition, went out and bought some pretty dishes, and cooked up some freezer friendly, reheatable dinners for the family. I went with enchiladas instead of grandpop's usual choice of lasagna, and they were awesome, but I guess the whole experience got lasagna on my brain, because I started craving it like crazy after that.
This lasagna totally satisfied my cravings!
Between the savory mushrooms, hearty lentils, creamy cashew ricotta, and of course the mildly spiced tomato sauce, this is one of the tastiest lasagnas I've had the pleasure of dining on, vegan or otherwise. If you're feeling lazy you can even skip the whole ricotta and noodle layering thing and just throw a batch of the mushroom lentil sauce onto some spaghetti. Also interestingly, my lasagna recipe comes in time for Valentine's Day, and since I'm a married lady these days, I can share it with my newest family member, my husband. You'll be well served to put this recipe to use for impressing your vegan date on the big day.
Vegan Mushroom Lentil Lasagna
- About 12-16 dried lasagna noodles just under a pound
For the Mushroom Lentil Sauce
- ¼ cup olive oil, divided
- 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, stemmed and coarsely chopped
- ½ large onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup dried green lentils
- 2 tbsp. granulated sugar, or sweetener of choice
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp. dried basil
- 1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes, optional, or to taste
- ½ tsp. crushed fennel seeds
- salt and pepper to taste
For the Cashew Ricotta
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water 4-8 hours, drained and rinsed
- 3 tbsp. unflavored soy or almond milk
- 3 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 lb. firm or extra firm tofu, drained
- ½ large onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions, until al dente. Drain in a colander and return to the pot. Toss with a few dashes of olive oil to avoid sticking.
Make the Mushroom Lentil Sauce
Coat the bottom of a large pot with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place over medium heat. Add mushrooms in as even a layer as possible. Cook until tender and lightly browned, flipping once, about 6 minutes total. Remove from pot and transfer to a plate.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pot and place back over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute more.
Return mushrooms to pot, and add crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, lentils, sugar, vinegar, basil, red pepper flakes and fennel. Bring to a simmer. Cover and allow to cook until lentils are tender but not mushy, about 35 minutes, uncovering and stirring occasionally. Remove cover and cook about 3 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens just a bit. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Make the Tofu Ricotta
While sauce simmers, place cashews, milk and lemon juice into food processor bowl. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed (don't stress if you can't get it perfectly smooth). Add tofu, onion, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper to bowl. Pulse until blended and a ricotta-like texture is achieved, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
Make the Mushroom Lentil Lasagna
Preheat oven to 400°.
Ladle about ½ cup of mushroom lentil sauce into the bottom of a 9 inch by 13 inch baking pan. Arrange a layer of 3 or 4 noodles into the bottom of the pan. Top with one third of cashew ricotta mixture, then a fourth of remaining mushroom lentil sauce. Repeat until the last of the noodles and cashew ricotta are used, finishing with a layer of noodles (four layers of noodles total), and then top with the last of the mushroom lentil sauce.
Cover and bake until bubbly, 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before cutting.