This plant-based lasagna tastes just like my Italian mamma's original, but made with vegan substitutes! It is meaty, cheesy, and totally satisfying.
YOU GUYS. I am so so so excited to be sharing this recipe with you! It has been a long time in the making, but you know I couldn't share until it was utterly flawless. I present to you My Mamma's Authentic Lasagna... veganized! Yes, I took my Italian mother's perfect lasagna recipe and made it perfectly plant-based. I regret nothing because it tastes exactly like the real thing! You've got the thin layers of pasta, rich ragu "meat" sauce, creamy béchamel sauce, and of course lots of mozzarella and parmesan. My mind was totally blown, and I think yours will be too!
Here is the deal with this lasagna... I've been trying to publish it to the blog for YEARS. First in its original form, of course, but there were always more new and exciting recipes to post. And then at the end of 2017, I stopped eating meat and it just didn't feel right to me to share a recipe that had meat when it wasn't something I was comfortable eating. Enter me now, in 2019, 99.5% vegan, and I definitely do not want any animal products on my website. So it became my mission to make really-frickin-good, authentic lasagna, mostly following my mamma's recipe, but plant-based instead! And dare I say it, I succeeded. This tastes just as good as the original!!!
As Italians, we are quite particular about our lasagna. Every region is a bit different, but this is how my mamma has always made it, and it's what tastes like home to me! It starts with the ragu meat sauce... a ground meat, insanely savory tomato sauce that has been slow simmered for hours until it's rich and delicious. The secret to packing as much flavor in it as possible is starting with soffritto - the Italian holy trinity of carrot, onion, and celery. My mom doesn't add really any spices, but since I was working with faux meat here, I bent her rules a bit to make it more flavorful 🙂 It's important that everything cooks together in the same pot so that the flavors can really develop!
The other important component to lasagna, which makes it super rich and creamy, is béchamel sauce! I think that is what a lot of American lasagnas are trying to emulate with ricotta, cottage cheese, or other creamy additions. All you need is some silky béchamel sauce to make all the difference! It's just a simple sauce starting with extra virgin olive oil and flour, with milk whisked in. Add some nutmeg and some garlic powder, and you're done! Layer this in with your meat sauce and cheese and I promise you will never go back!!
I think really, the trickiest part to making vegan lasagna is finding good substitutes! I knew my mamma's recipe for lasagna was bulletproof, I just needed some faux meat and faux cheese that were good enough to really taste right. I used LightLife beef grounds and I was honestly so impressed! I tried using their breakfast sausage a couple of months ago and it was amazing, so I was already pretty sure their beefy crumbles would be winners. As for the cheese, I used my beloved Follow Your Heart mozzarella shreds and parmesan shreds. I had already mentioned them when I made my Eggplant Parm Pizza, but they really are my favorite! Especially for something like this where you need a lot. If your cheese doesn't taste good, it will totally ruin the whole thing!
I hope you guys will give my vegan lasagna a try next time you're craving Italian! I promise you will not be disappointed. I almost started crying when I took my first bite because it tasted so much like the real thing. This is pure nostalgic comfort food for me! 🙂 Those dreamy, cheesy, rich layers just can't be beat. If you have any questions or concerns, just let me know. I am happy to help!
Looking for more meatless pasta and lasagna?
- Parmigiana di Melanzane (not quite lasagna but... SO good!)
- Cheesy Spinach Artichoke Lasagna
- Squash & Eggplant Lasagna by Caroline's Cooking
- Veggie Lasagna by The Spiffy Cookie
- Butternut Squash Kale Lasagna by Grumpy's Honeybunch
- Slow Cooker Sneaky Tofu Lasagna by Everyday Eileen
- Garden Vegetable Lasagna by Hezzi-D’s Books & Cooks
- *for the meat sauce*
- 1-2 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ white onion
- 1 carrot
- 2 stalks of celery
- one 12oz pack of vegan "meat" crumbles (I recommend LightLife)
- ¼ cup white wine
- two 15oz cans of tomato puree
- 2-3 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2-3 teaspoon salt, to taste
- *for the béchamel sauce*
- 3 tablespoon olive oil (or vegan butter)
- 3 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 cups unsweetened nondairy milk (I recommend cashew or almond)
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- salt & pepper to taste
- *to assemble*
- 1 package oven-ready lasagna sheets
- 1 8oz bag vegan mozzarella shreds (I recommend Follow Your Heart)
- 4oz vegan parmesan cheese (I recommend Follow Your Heart)
- First, make the ragu meat sauce. In a food processor, combine the onion, carrot, and celery, and pulse until finely ground.
- Add the olive oil to a large pot, and add in the vegetable mix. Cook on medium-high until translucent and fragrant.
- Next, add in your vegan ground "meat" and stir to combine. Add in the onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and salt. Cook until meat starts to get slightly caramelized.
- Pour in the white wine, and allow it to deglaze the pan. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes until it has mostly evaporated. Finally, add in the two cans of tomato sauce, and the tomato paste. Then add about ½ a can's worth of water into the pot. Stir everything together, turn heat to a low simmer, and cover. Don't forget the bay leaves!
- Allow meat sauce to cook on low for at least an hour.
- When the meat sauce is almost ready, start to assemble your work station. Prepare either one 9x13 baking pan, or two 8x8 baking dishes.
- Fill an additional shallow pan or dish with hot water, and place the lasagna sheets in it to soften as you prepare the rest.
- When you are ready to assemble, prepare the béchamel sauce. You need to save it for last because it thickens very quickly at room temperature!
- In a small nonstick pot, heat the olive oil or butter on medium-high heat until shimmering. Add in the flour, and allow it to cook, whisking often, so that your béchamel sauce will not taste like raw flour. This will take 2-3 minutes.
- Next, slowly add in the milk, whisking constantly. It will thicken very quickly! Just keep whisking out any lumps and continue to add the milk. Lower heat to a simmer, and season the béchamel with nutmeg, garlic powder, salt & pepper.
- Finally, you can start to assemble! Preheat the oven to 375F while you work.
- At the bottom of your pan, spread around a small bit of the meat sauce. Top with one layer of (softened) lasagna sheets, and top with more meat sauce, béchamel sauce, and some mozzarella and parmesan shreds. Repeat until your pan is full. At the very top, spread both béchamel and meat sauce, and gently mix them together as you spread. Top with lots of cheese! Depending on how deep your pan is, you will end up with 3-4 layers total.
- Cover your pan(s) with foil, and bake for 40 minutes. Then, remove the foil and bake for 20 more minutes. Lasagna should be bubbling and a golden crusty brown on top!
- Allow to cool slightly before cutting and enjoying!
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