Introducing our Recipes Section! This a brand new area on our site where we will highlight a dish inspired by a place from around the world. Justin and I both consume a vegan diet, which we feel is best for our health, animal welfare, and the environment. We eat lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts and we do not consume any meat, dairy products or eggs. Of course, we allow for occasional splurges on treats like vegan desserts, snack foods, and things of that nature!
We’ve had lots of questions from our readers over the past while about how to eat more vegan food. While we love posting about restaurants that we visit and where to eat vegetarian food on our travels, we do spend a great deal of time cooking our meals at home. Keeping with the travel theme, we’ll be sharing a vegan recipe each week that is inspired by a particular country or place from around the globe. We’ll try our best to use ingredients that are easy to find at your local grocery store, so you can cook these easily if you’re on the road and have access to a kitchen.
This week, we travel to Italy where fresh, local foods reign supreme and the country is beloved around the world for its pasta! Italian food can be very easily prepared without the use of meat or dairy products while still retaining the traditional flavors. This week, I will share one of my favorite pasta recipes with you!
Vegan Spinach Lasagna with Tofu Ricotta
This one is a crowd-pleaser: pretty much everyone I know loves lasagna! It’s also very easy to prepare, and makes large portions so you can make it for a larger group, or keep lots of leftovers for lunch the next day! It stores well in the fridge for a few days. Don’t be startled by the use of tofu in this recipe for the Tofu Ricotta – it actually tastes very similar to ricotta cheese and is a great substitution for dairy in this recipe!
This recipe comes from the Veganomicon cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. If you’re interested in cooking more vegan food, this cookbook is a must-have as it is filled with so many wonderful recipes. I’ve modified the recipe slightly to my own liking – feel free to do the same!
2 jars of tomato pasta sauce (or, you can make your own if you prefer)
1 package of lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions
2 pounds of spinach
2 packages of extra-firm tofu
4 tsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
bunch of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped (20 leaves)
4 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
Daiya mozzarella vegan cheese (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. You’ll also need a 9×13″ deep pan and aluminum foil to cover the pan while it’s cooking. While you cook the lasagna noodles according to the directions on the package, you can prepare the tofu ricotta.
Wash the spinach well and place in a steamer basket inside a large pot. Cover and steam the spinach for 8-10 minutes until it is wilted and a shade of deep green. Uncover and remove from the heat, allowing the spinach to cool to the touch. Squeeze handfuls of the spinach to remove the excess water and chop coarsely.
In a large bowl, crumble the tofu with your hands. Add the lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and basil. Mush with your hands again until it is the consistency of ricotta cheese, about 2-5 minutes.
Add the olive oil and spinach, and stir with a fork. Add the nutritional yeast and mix the ingredients together well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Spread about 1/2 cup of tomato sauce into the bottom of the pan and layer with 5-6 noodles. Add half of the tofu ricotta and about 1/3 of the sauce. Add another layer of noodles and the rest of the ricotta, and more sauce. Top with remaining noodles and the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle with Daiya mozzarella cheese – optional, but highly recommended if you can find it. It is easily found within Canada and the United States, and is the best melty cheese alternative around!
Tightly place aluminum foil around the top of the pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, then remove hte foil, and bake for another 20 minutes until the edges of the noodles are slightly browned and the sauce is bubbling. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing.
Feel free to add your favorite veggies to the mix! You can add chopped onion, pepper, more tomatoes, broccoli, mushrooms, or whatever you like. Serve alongside a fresh green salad or some garlic bread!
Do you have any recipe requests for us? Did you try cooking this recipe and how did it turn out?