Today I’m sharing a fairly simple healthy vegan lasagna recipe that I came up with not long ago. Like most of my recipes, this version of lasagna has a lot of vegetables and no added oil.
Lasagna is the ultimate Italian comfort food for a lot of us. Multiple versions of vegan lasagna recipes can be found online, and if you’ve switched to a plant-based vegan diet a while ago, you’ve probably tried at least one or two of them.
I was born in Uzbekistan (a country that used to be a part of the Soviet Union) and grew up in Russia, and for a very long time we had little to no idea about Italian cuisine. Obviously, Italian people were not that eager to move to the Soviet Union and teach us the tricks of Italian cooking!
Growing up, I heard the magic word ‘lasagna’ in American movies and TV shows, where it was always referred to as a delicacy. Of course, I was curious to find out what lasagna really was, so once I found myself in America at the age of 20, I headed to an Italian restaurant and ordered a piece.
Just like the movies promised, it was delicious!
Of course, that lasagna was nowhere near vegetarian or vegan. In the years that followed, I became more and more interested in nutrition and healthy eating.
After a lot of reading up on the subject, I came to a conclusion that eating vegan was the healthiest thing I could do to myself from nutritional standpoint, so I never looked back at that meat-and-cheese laden piece of lasagna!
Instead, I set out on a quest to create a healthy vegan lasagna recipe that would include lots of vegetables and none of the grease.
To make sure the filling for my lasagna came out with a melt-in-your-mouth texture, I used a block of tofu instead of ricotta cheese for the filling.
It’s great if you have homemade marinara sauce, but if you’re pressed for time, it’s fine to use store-bought marinara. To keep things oil-free, make sure it’s not overly high on sodium and has no added oil.
Some people like using the no-boil lasagna noodles, but I prefer the regular kind that I first boil for about 5 minutes. Feel free to use the no-boil noodles if you like, but make sure that they are not overly processed.
Speaking of healthy options… The question might arise: should we be using fake cheese here? Store-bought fake vegan cheese is often heavily processed… My answer: you’re free to omit the cheese on top if you want to steer clear of all the ‘fakeness’.
I rarely use vegan cheese anyway, but if I decide to go for it, I make sure to read the ingredients list first. Some of the fake cheeses out there even contain casein – that totally defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?
Since creating this recipe, I’ve developed a versatile oil-free vegan ricotta cheese recipe made with cashews and almonds. It’s so good that it’s even fooled omnivores! It can be used instead of tofu in this recipe, but be aware that the fat content of the finished lasagna will be higher.
Trying to make being vegan easier both for yourself and your family? Check out my favorite vegan finds on Amazon, from useful cookbooks and vegan pantry staples to kitchen tools, products for vegan kids, etc.!
- 1/2 box whole-grain lasagna noodles (9-10 noodles)
- 1 1/2 cup marinara sauce, or more to taste
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella-style vegan cheese, for topping*
For the filling:
- 2-3 Tbsp water or vegetable broth for the pan
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup crimini mushrooms, diced
- 1 1/2 cup bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 1 15-oz block firm tofu, drained and pressed
- 2 cups kale leaves, torn by hand, thick stems removed
- 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
Spices and seasonings:
- 1 tsp dried rubbed sage
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary (or 1 tsp fresh)
- salt, pepper to taste
To prepare the lasagna noodles:
- Cook lasagna noodles according to the package directions until they are a little firmer than al dente. Once done, take each noodle out of the pot with kitchen tongs and set aside to cool. (I usually hang them around the sides of a colander.) Meanwhile, make the filling.
To prepare the filling:
- Heat 1-2 Tbsp water or vegetable broth in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, cook until translucent, adding more liquid if needed to prevent sticking.
- Stir in bell peppers and mushrooms, cook until they soften.
- Add kale leaves, cover the pan with a lid, and let the leaves wilt for about 3-5 min.
- Take the pan off the heat and let cool slightly, for about 10 min, and then transfer the vegetables into a bowl of a food processor.
- Crumble a drained and pressed block of tofu on top of the vegetables in the food processor. Add nutritional yeast and all spices. Pulse the mixture in the food processor a few times until well mixed and smooth. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your liking.
To assemble the lasagna:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Spread 2-3 Tbsp of prepared marinara sauce on the bottom of an 8" by 8" ovenproof pan (I use a Pyrex glass pan). Arrange a layer of precooked noodles over the sauce, cutting the noodles to fit the pan. (You can use the cut off pieces of noodles in the following layers.)
- Spread 1/4 to 1/5 of the tofu-kale filling over the noodles. Add 2 Tbsp or more marinara sauce on top. Cover with a layer of noodles (see notes**).
- Continue assembling the following layers in the same manner (noodles-filling-sauce) until you have 4-5 layers. The top layer needs to be only noodles and marinara. Sprinkle with shredded vegan cheese*.
- Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Insert lasagna into the oven, bake 20 min. Remove the foil, bake for another 20 min.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10 min before cutting and serving.
*My favorite store-bought shredded vegan cheese is Follow Your Heart Mozzarella Shreds.
**To make your lasagna sturdier, arrange your noodle layers at 90 degrees: the first layer should go from your right to left, the second - from top to bottom, the third - right to left, etc.
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Serving Size:1/4 of the lasagna
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 232 Total Fat: 10g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 6g Cholesterol: 7mg Sodium: 461mg Carbohydrates: 22g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 7g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 20g
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