July 29th is National Lasagna Day and we celebrated with a large pan of homemade, vegetarian, lasagna, a dish that was once scary to make but has now become a staple.
On a whim, a few months ago we bought a box of lasagna noodles from the market but they sat unused in the cabinet. While a consumer of the dish, making lasagna seemed out of my league. Also, finding a proper dairy free cheese alternative was tricky. As a life long cheese eater, my taste buds rebel at the notion of vegan cheeses. There was the option of making two dishes, one dairy free and one dairy-full, but if ONE pan of lasagna was daunting, two pans were downright scary.
When Raya and I attended the Vegan for Non-Vegans class at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Culinary Center we were introduced to tofu ricotta when Joy Manning shared the recipe she used. Oh my yum was it delicious! Creamy, good texture and flavorful tofu soon became a staple in our home. The tofu ricotta became the filling for stuffed shells and the inspiration for a pan of lasagna.
Usually we use ground beef for the filling but for this meatless meal we used Beyond meat crumbles. Beyond Meat has the consistency and feel of beef but without the greasiness. Since the was the first time we used it and I was afraid that the crumbles would be bland, we sautéed some onions and tomatoes before we added the crumbles.
We did cheat a bit and used a jar sauce. Rao’s is my favorite; it is not too sweet or too bitter and doesn’t have a ton of sugar. To save time we add the noodles uncooked and they one out tender. We layer the lasagna as such: sauce, uncooked noodles, tofu ricotta, sauce, meat, Daiya shreds, noodle, sauce and so forth. Seasonings are added as desired; we use oregano, basil, garlic, and thyme throughout. We pop it into the oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes and dinner is served.
The picture doesn’t do the meal justice. The lasagna comes out with thick layers that alternate creaminess and stringy cheeses , a blend of herbs and sauce and ends with a fight over who gets the last slice.
Want the recipe? Drop a line in the comments!