Are you wondering what the heck to take with you for Christmas dinner this year?
Not only is this vegan lasagna delicious and satisfying, it even tempts non-vegans, so it’s perfect for sharing this holiday season.
Or any time of year for that matter.
It combines full-flavoured layers of:
- tomato mushroom sauce
- spinach tofu sauce
- gluten-free pasta
to create an incredibly tasty (yet wonderfully healthy) alternative to traditional lasagne.
The mushroom tomato sauce contains only tomatoes, onion, garlic, mushrooms and herbs and spices:
While the tofu spinach sauce is made from just spinach, tofu, savoury yeast flakes and tamari:
Isn’t it wonderfully green?
This also means that this recipe is oil-free and low-fat. But it still manages to satisfy both your tastebuds and your stomach.
And this amazing vegan lasagna is even kid-friendly.
My 11-year-old son took this to school a couple of years ago as his “birthday cake” and his classmates loved it.
One of them even said, “I never thought I’d enjoy eating something that’s green.”
The longest part is waiting for the lasagna to finish cooking, and then cooling down enough to eat it.
But it’s most definitely worth the wait.
Fingers crossed it wins over your die-hard veggie skeptics too.
(And it even comes in perfect Christmas colours too – red, gold and green!)
- 2 med (230g) onions, processed
- 2 cloves (10g) garlic, minced
- 8 med (50g) sundried tomatoes
- 2 large (300g) fresh tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp instant stock mix OR 1 stock cube
- 12 med (250g) mushrooms, processed
- 5 med (700g) fresh tomatoes
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp Italian herbs
- 5 cups (280g) baby spinach leaves (tightly packed)
- 500g firm tofu
- 1/6 cup (40ml) savoury/nutritional yeast flakes
- 5 tsp (25ml) tamari or soy sauce
- 9 sheets (250g) gluten-free lasagne (enough for three layers)
- 1 piece/handful (10g) vegan cheese (optional)
- Process onions until finely chopped (or finely chop by hand).
- Fry onions and garlic in water, set aside.
- Process mushrooms, add to onions and garlic.
- Blend sundried tomatoes, tomatoes and stock paste.
- Process blended tomato mix, tomatoes, black pepper and herbs.
- Mix into onion, garlic and mushroom mix.
- Process spinach, tofu, yeast and tamari until smooth.
- Layer as follows: 1/2 tomato sauce, 3 lasagne sheets, 1/2 tofu sauce, 3 lasagne sheets, 1/2 tofu sauce, 3 lasagne sheets, 1/2 tomato sauce
- Cover and cook at 190ºC for 30 minutes.
- Uncover and cook for another 30 minutes.
- Leave for 15 minutes too cool and firm up a little.
- (Optional) Sprinkle/layer cheese on top.
- Cut up and serve.
During: 30 mins
After: 1 hour
Need: Food processor, blender, oven
- I process my onions in the food processor because A) I’m about to get it dirty anyway, so why the heck not and B) it saves time (but mostly A). It also means I can chop them really finely so they’re aren’t any big chunks of onion left in the tomato mushroom sauce.
- I minced my garlic with a hand garlic mincer, once again to make sure that there aren’t any big lumps left in the sauce.
- I fry my onion and garlic in water to minimise the fat in this recipe. I’ve been experimenting a bit with frying in water instead of oil, and sometimes it works out OK. It doesn’t taste as rich, but with a recipe like this, that’s not such a bad thing.
- If your onion/garlic mixtures starts to turn green as you fry it, DON’T PANIC! This is just compounds coming out of the onion and garlic and reacting with each other, the cooking utensils and/or your water (as in our case). It’s much more likely to happen if you chop the onions in the processor, than if you slice them up by hand, simply because they’re more finely chopped and little more crushed that way. It won’t affect the taste of your food and is harmless in the small amounts present in your cooking.
- Process your mushrooms until they form a brown “rubble”. In other words, they’re finely chopped, but with still a little texture left. In this state they also most closely resemble ground meat, (although we’re not necessarily too fussed about that here).
- I blend the sundried tomatoes to make a smooth, tomato-rich base, but then I only process the fresh tomatoes until they’re chunky, to leave a little texture in the tomato sauce.
- The stock paste I use is a concentrated vegetable stock paste that I sometimes use in my dishes. You can use a stock cube, or your preferred stock concentrate, or you could even throw in some of my instant homemade vegetable stock powder mix and a dash of tamari.
- I don’t bother cooking the mushrooms or the tomatoes before I put this dish into the oven. The warmth of the fried onion softens the mushrooms a very little, but honestly, they get well enough cooked in the oven, so why cook them any more than need be? You also save yourself some work, which I’m all for!
- You can use Italian herbs or mixed herbs in this recipe. These two herb blends are very similar, and can be safely substituted for each other. Italian herbs mix typically contains thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano, sage while mixed herbs often has the same herbs with the addition of marjoram. Either blend will work fine.
- I prefer to use baby spinach leaves because they process more readily, minimising any spinach chunks or texture in the sauce. But that’s because my kids are super-fussy, so if you only have mature spinach on hand, feel free to use that instead. It might be worth removing the thickest parts of the stems if you can be bothered.
- I don’t drain my tofu beforehand, but it might actually help to make the tofu a little less wet, so maybe I should start doing it! If you want to drain your tofu, just put it between some absorbent towels and weigh it down for 30 minutes or so, while you do everything else.
- The savoury nutritional yeast flakes really make the spinach tofu sauce work, by giving a fabulous cheesy taste, so don’t skip these. If you can’t get a hold of any, or don’t want to use them, you might want to add something else to amp up the “cheesy” flavour of the sauce, such as miso or more tamari, but it won’t be quite the same.
- I process the heck out of my spinach tofu sauce, because I want it to be as smooth and creamy as possible, and also because my kids don’t like too much texture. Having it smooth certainly helps with the whole “cheese sauce” experience (except of course for the bright green colour, that is).
- I generally use gluten-free lasagne sheets for this recipe – to make it gluten-free obviously – but you don’t have to do this. You can use your favourite pasta sheets of any variety and the dish will work the same, I promise. I know because I’ve done it both ways myself.
- The vegan cheese is optional, but it can help make this dish that little bit richer, especially for non-vegans who are expecting a slightly heavier dish. My kids love it with a little vegan cheese melting over the top, but I prefer it without. It’s entirely up to you. And of course you can always do a half-half, just like we do at our house.
- It’s really important to let the vegan lasagna rest for 15 minutes after it comes out of the oven, as impatient as I’m sure you are to try it. It really does help it hold together better, and it makes it easier to get out of the casserole dish in one piece.
This recipe is a blend of Susan Voisin’s oil-free My Favourite Lasagna recipe over at Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, and a Broccoli Lasagna recipe I used to make a few years back from The Vegan Cookbook by Alan Wakeman and Gordon Baskerville.
And of course, I then threw in as much fresh whole food as I could manage, and minimised the amount of cooking, to preserve the natural state of the foods as much as possible (and to save on work).
The “cheesy” spinach tofu sauce is the key to this recipe, but I also love the way that the mushrooms disappear into the background, so nobody even really knows they’re there!
I was absolutely thrilled when my kids loved it and even more blown away when their friends loved it too, so this is definitely a favourite at our house.
And it’s one that we’ll be making this Christmas for sure, and probably for many years to come.
If you want to learn more about onion and garlic turning green while frying, here’s an interesting article about it:
If you want to learn more about nutritional yeast, here’s a great wrap up on it:
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And have a fabulously satisfying day!
~ Nikki, Eating Vibrantly