Unlike your traditional lasagna, this deliciously cheesy vegan zucchini lasagna is different because it is plant-based, and is lower-in carbs (if you’re counting!)
THIS. LASAGNA. TOOK. ME. PLACES.
Simply put: I have been craving lasagna for a while, so I was really looking forward to making this. However, unlike your traditional lasagna, this is different because it is vegan, and replaces zucchini for lasagna noodles, which makes this lower-in carbs (if you’re counting!).
This seriously turned out to be one of the most delicious lasagnas that I have ever tasted, and I’m not just saying that because I made it! It’s creamy, delicious, nutty, and extremely filling. Unlike most zucchini lasagnas I’ve had in the past, this one wasn’t soupy, nor did any excess liquid from the zucchini make the dish too wet. The consistency was just right-almost as if I were eating the traditional Italian Dish. The homemade cashew ricotta cheese was not only extremely delicious, but was very helpful in absorbing the excess moisture from the veggies.
Patience is a Virtue
Before I jump into the recipe, I will say that this cheesy vegan zucchini lasagna is going to take some time for you to prepare. Dedicate at least two hours for the preparation of this meal (which will include the ingredient prep and baking time). This dish was made almost completely from scratch, which means that I had to make almost every component with my own blood, sweat, and tears (you get it-I hope!). If you’re into prepping ingredients ahead of time, then you’ll be ahead of the game!
My advice: Patience is a virtue. Trust me. You’ll be licking your plate clean.
Let’s jump to the Cheesy Vegan Zucchini Lasagna recipe, shall we:
Cheesy Vegan Zucchini Lasagna
For the noodles:
- 2 medium whole zucchinis or one extra-large zucchini
For the sauce:
- Two 8 ounce packages of portabella mushrooms
- 5-6 large plum tomatoes
- 2 large red bell peppers (or 4 medium bell peppers)
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 6-8 fresh basil leaves
- ½ large onion, or 1 small onion
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- 2 tbsp. dried oregano seasoning
- 1-2 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
- 4 tsp extra virgin olive oil (evoo), divided into two teaspoons
- Dash of salt & black pepper
For the cashew ricotta cheese:
- 1 tsp evoo
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
- 1.5 cups raw cashews, soaked
- ½ cup reserved water from soaked cashews
- 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, or ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder (depending on how garlicky you like your ricotta)
For the topping:
- Miyokos brand of Mozzarella cheese (optional, since this is my favorite store-bought vegan cheese)
Directions for the noodles:
- Slice the lengthwise with a mandolin. I highly recommend using a mandolin, for consistent slices. However, if you choose to slice these by hand, be sure to slice them no more than about 1/8” in thickness.
- These next two steps are optional, but HIGHLY recommended. To help get rid of the excess moisture from the zucchinis, place a large baking sheet with a layer of napkins, and salt the napkins. Then, lay each zucchini noodle slice over the salt, and try to avoid overlapping the slices. Liberally salt over the zucchinis, and let these ‘sweat’ for about 30 minutes. Afterwards, gently run your fingers through each slice over a sink or colander to get rid of the excess moisture and gently place the zucchini back into the pan, and once again avoid overlapping each slice.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the baking sheet(s) with the slices in the oven for ten minutes, to finish drying them off. The zucchini will now be ‘dry’ enough to use for the lasagna without making the dish too wet. Set aside.
For the meat sauce
- This step is best to do ahead of time-Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the tomatoes in half, remove the bell pepper caps (with seeds), ad place these, along with the garlic cloves in a baking tray. Drizzle 2 tsp of the evoo over the produce and massage oil throughout. Bake these for about 25-30 minutes until the produce becomes wilted and has beautiful golden brown spots. Then place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times until a sauce-consistency forms (I personally like my sauce on the chunkier side)
- While the zucchini is ‘sweating’, begin preparing the ‘meat’: coarsely dice the onion (to no more than ½” cubes), dice the garlic cloves into fine pieces, and crumble the portabella mushrooms until they are about ¼” sized pieces. You can either pulse these a couple times in a food processor or crumble them by hand. Up to you.
- Drizzle two tsp evoo on a skillet, preheated to medium high. Immediately place mushroom and onion mix into the skillet. Add the salt, black pepper, spinach, red pepper, and crushed oregano seasoning to mixture. Cover for the first 3 minutes to allow everything to wilt, then remove cover and stir mixture frequently for about 7 minutes, until the onions turn translucent, and the portabella begins to lightly brown.
- Add roasted tomato sauce mixture to the portabella ‘meat’ and let is simmer on low for about 10 minutes, or until more of the juices from the tomato mixture reduces.
For cashew ricotta:
1. Place all specified ingredients into (cleaned) food processor and let it blend for about 3-5 minutes, or until it has that thick, ricotta mixture. Be sure to check and stir periodically. That easy.
Directions for the Lasagna assembling:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Take an 8” casserole dish, and take about 2-3 tablespoons of meat sauce to spoon at bottom. This will help the lasagna become easy to scoop out (trust me!)
- Like any traditional lasagna recipe, gently layer the zucchini noodles, as the second layer. Then add about half or the ricotta mixture and gently spread. Then layer about a third of the meat sauce mixture. Afterwards, layer about 1/3 of the Miyokos mozzarella cheese. Then repeat this step, until you have about 2-3 layers of lasagna. Top with the rest of the sliced or shredded mozzarella cheese. Over with a sheet of aluminum foil
- Bake covered for 30 minutes. Afterwards, remove aluminum foil cover and allow to bake for 15 additional minutes.
- The hardest step (but a VERY important one!!). Let the lasagna rest for about 10-15 minutes-OR-until you feel like it is cool enough for you to eat.
- Quarter this lasagna with a spatula (or knife) and with your spatula, gently take each piece out, and plate.
- Devour this dish and enjoy!!!
Makes 4 servings (serving size: 1 hearty slice)
Nutritional information for the Cheesy Vegan Zucchini Lasagna:
502g calories/ 29g protein/51g fat/58g carbs/ 8.5g fiber
Have you made this? Did you alter this recipe in any way? Comment below!