Friday, January 26, 2018

Easy Tofu Lasagna (vegan)

Easy Tofu Lasagna

As with a lot of things I cook, this is a recipe that I adapted from my old 'carny' recipe to include no animal products. This actually makes it a pretty cheap meal. We used to only have lasagna at Christmas because of all the meat and cheese that went into it, the cost was about $50. I've made Tofu Lasagna twice now and spent no more than
$16 either time. That's about $1.35/serving. Not bad. And it freezes very well in individual servings, so if, like me, you are sick of lasagna by the 3rd day, you still have another 6 quick meals for the future.

The $16 price includes a generous allowance for incidentals such as spices, nutritional yeast, and nuts. Most vegans have these things on hand, so the actual cost is not even noticeable. If you don't have these things and don't want to buy them then you will still have a lasagna. I really like to encourage people to ignore ingredient lists anyway. Make do and make it your own. People gotta eat.

Now... if you want to make it expensive them go buy a lot of ready-made vegan cheeses. For this recipe I have used very little store-bought cheese and, honestly, I don't think it would be missed.



What you absolutely need:
A long, deep casserole dish

That's it.

What might also be handy, if you want to make your own Parmesan:
A high-speed blender (HSB)
BUT, if you are compelled, you can find some other way to crush some nuts.

Ingredients that actually make this a lasagna:
2 jars of vegan marinara sauce.
Lasagna noodles (no boil FTW!)
Tofu

Other ingredients you might want to add:
Vegan cheese - slices or shredded your choice
Veggies
Meat substitutes
Cashew Parm (or other nuts work, too!)
I will go into more detail now about these ingredients below - what I've use and how best to prepare them.

Tofu Ricotta Recipe
Press 1 block of extra-firm tofu to remove excess water.
Crumble up (or pulse through a HSB). I like mine chunkier, so hand-crumbling works for me!
Mix into this:
1 Tsp lemon juice
1 tsp each of:
(dried) parsley, basil, oregano
1/2 tsp each of:
black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt*
Toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate until use.
*You can omit the salt if that is a concern, but it does help to extract any residual moisture while cooking.

Cashew Parmesan Recipe
1/2 cup of roasted cashews or other nuts such as walnuts or almonds
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp each of garlic powder and onion powder
Run through the HSB or otherwise crush and mix together. Store any leftover airtight (it's good on lots of stuff! I keep some made up all of the time!)

Veggie suggestions:
I have used cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, red bell pepper, and artichoke hearts. Eggplant, squash, or onion would be good, too.  Whatever you use, chop it into even pieces and brown in a skillet before building your lasagna. You will always have some slide/separate action while serving due to the flat noodles. Big, flat slices off veggies are just going to make the whole thing a mess.

Saute on the stove until about halfway to being tender (not long, in other words). Mostly you don't want things to go in raw and come out soggy and weird.

Use your discretion for how long certain things need to cook to be half-tender. For example, I'd start with the carrots and let them cook before adding more stuff and add the mushrooms last. You can cook these separately if you want to have distinct veggies layers. I really can't be bothered to do that.
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Meat Substitutes I have used:
Field Roast frankfurters --- The kids love these. They are the only reason the kids ate the lasagna. To me it was a little too much like a hotdog when usually I don't think of them as hotdogs but sausages.
Tofurkey Italian sausage ---- MUCH better for a lasagna. 1/4 lengthwise and then slice to distribute evenly. These are very firm, so large pieces are an out-of-place texture IMO.
Meatless Meatballs --- this was also good. Thaw, 1/4, and brown well in a saucepan or they will turn to mush

Some Beyond Beef meat crumbles might be good. Use what you like. Make your own seitan maybe. Leave out the 'meat' altogether. Generally I buy these things and then can't decide how to eat them, so into a soup of something they go.

Vegan Store-bought cheese:
Chao slices - this is the only cheese I ever buy. I've tried others. Didn't like them. I used 6 slices, which is 120 grams - equivalent to about 1 cup of shredded cheese. Use what you have or just skip it.

The ingredients I used:
2 jars of mushroom/basil  marinara sauce (Aldi $1.59/jar)
12 no-boil lasagna noodles (Aldi $1.69 for box of 21)
Tofu ricotta (1 block tofu, Walmart $3.58)
1/2 cup each of zucchini, cauliflower, carrots, mushrooms - cooked down to just over a cup (cost?)
2 Tofurkey Italian sausages (pack of 4, Walmart $2.99)
12 meatless meatballs (24ct bag, Aldi $2.49)
6 slices of Chao (10-slice package, Walmart $3.98)
Cashew Parm (about 1/4 cup)

Build a Lasagna
This is how I build the lasagna pictured above- the same basic way everybody builds a lasagna.

  1. 1/5 jar of sauce
  2. layer of 3 noodles
  3. 2/5 jar of sauce
  4. 1/2 the tofu risotta
  5. 1/2 the veggies and 1/2 the meatballs, mixed
  6. layer of 3 noodles
  7. 2/5 jar of sauce
  8. chao slices
  9. Tofurkey sausages
  10. layer of 3 noodles
  11. 2/5 jar or sauce
  12. remaining tofu ricotta
  13. remaining veggie/meatballs
  14. layer of 3 noodles (press, compact lightly before finishing)
  15. 1/5 jar of sauce
  16. cashew parm

No-boil noodles require you to add water before baking. When I have transported a lasagna to bake elsewhere I don't add the water until ready to go into the oven. Probably best to add the water later if you plan to refrigerate and bake the next day. Your noodle package will tell you how much water to add - this brand required 1/2 cup water for every 5 noodles. I rounded down. I'd rather noodles be firm than goo. Pour it gently and evenly around the edges. Cover with foil and bake at 350F for 1 hour. Remove foil and back another 10-15 minutes as needed to remove excess water.

Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before slicing/serving or it will fall apart. Longer if  you can stand it.

I will be adding more photos and ingredients as I continue to experiment with vegan lasagna! I hope this recipe helps somebody that hasn't made a lasagna before. It's really not hard at all - especially when you don't have to boil the noodles!

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