The Ultimate Meaty Vegan Lasagna

Lasagna has a special place in my heart. In my earliest memory of “cooking” as a very small child, my dad let me lay down the noodles and scoop the ricotta cheese for his homemade lasagna.

After going vegetarian in college, I enjoyed lasagna less and less; I felt it just wasn’t the same without the Italian sausage and beef! And when I initially went vegan several years ago, the lack of convincing cheese alternatives made it even harder to cook up a decent plant-based rendition. However, thanks to the recent surge in availability of actually kick-ass meat and cheese substitutes, lasagna reigns supreme once again!

I joined forces with my boyfriend Eric (who specializes in big, hearty dishes like lasagna, chili, and stew) to share this epic recipe with you. We made this using his homemade slow-cooked tomato-basil sauce, but if you’re short on time, feel free to use your favorite store-bought pasta sauce. Similarly, you can substitute in Kite Hill or Tofutti-brand vegan ricotta.

My favorite vegan cheeses to use in this recipe are Violife’s mozzarella shreds and their parmesan wedge, which I find at my local Whole Foods. Gardein and Beyond Meat make my favorite beef-style crumbles and Italian sausage, respectively, but there are lots of options on the market these days, including Field Roast, Boca, and Tofurky.

The Ultimate Meaty Vegan Lasagna

Yield: 12 servings
Author:
This hearty vegan lasagna is cheesy, meaty, and full of flavor. The recipe takes awhile to prepare, but it is well worth it! Leftovers keep well for several days in the fridge (and, in my opinion, taste even better as the flavors develop).

ingredients:

Eric's Slow-Cooked Tomato-Basil Sauce
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 (28 oz) cans crushed Cento San Marzano tomatoes
  • large handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Tofu-Almond “Ricotta”
  • 1/2 block extra-firm tofu
  • 1 cup blanched almonds, soaked for 2+ hours
  • 1/3 cup plain-unsweetened vegan yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt, to taste
Add-Ins
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced*
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped
  • half of a (12 oz) bag Gardein beef-style crumbles
  • 2 Hot Italian Beyond Sausages, casings removed**
Assembly
  • 4 cups vegan mozzarella shreds
  • 1/2 cup grated vegan parmesan
  • 12 lasagna noodles, prepared according to package instructions

instructions:

How to cook The Ultimate Meaty Vegan Lasagna

For the Sauce
  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed pot. Sauté garlic for a few minutes, until fragrant.
  2. Add crushed tomatoes, chopped basil, pepper flakes, onion powder, and oregano. Stir to combine. Bring to a very gentle boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1-2 hours. (This can also be prepared in a slow cooker or Instant Pot.)
For the Ricotta
  1. Combine ingredients in a food processor and puree until mostly smooth. (A tiny amount of graininess is actually preferable and will make the ricotta texture much more convincing! Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go to ensure even texture.
For the Add-Ins
  1. In a skillet over medium-high heat, sautée mushrooms in a drizzle of olive oil for 5-8 minutes, stirring often, to cook off excess moisture. Add zucchini and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, until tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In the same skillet, cook vegan beef-style crumbles and Beyond Sausage for a few minutes until lightly browned. (If you're just using the beef crumbles, you can skip this step, but the Beyond Sausage is easiest to work with when lightly cooked.)
To Assemble
  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
  2. Spread about 1 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a greased 9x13" baking dish.  Layer 3 lasagna noodles, and roughly 1/3 of the sausage, vegetables, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, and sauce. Repeat layers, reserving about 1 cup of mozzarella and 1 cup of sauce for the very top.
  3. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10-15 additional minutes, uncovered, until edges are slightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to rest for about 15 minutes before serving. (This will allow it to firm up a bit and make it easier to cut and serve.)

NOTES:

*Feel free to use any vegetables you love! Spinach, eggplant, peppers and onions all work beautifully in this lasagna; you simply want to sauté them first to remove excess liquid. You can also feel free to leave the veggies out and double up on your vegan beef and sausage for an extra-meaty lasagna.

**If you can't find Beyond Sausage locally, feel free to use extra vegan beefy crumbles. You can add a shake of Italian seasoning and fennel seed to the beef for that Italian sausage flavor. You can also sub in crumbled Tofurky or Field Roast Italian sausage.