Nothing says sunday like the smell of a huge tray of lasagna cooking in the oven! This is the perfect lasagna for vegheads and meat-eaters alike! It comes packed with flavor and just the right amount of spice. With my vegan pesto ricotta cheese spread throughout, you will never even know this doesn’t have dairy in it!
Thanks to @explorecuisine I was able to make this lasagna gluten-free too! They have an “Organic Green Lentil Lasagne” that requires no boil and has 11 grams of protein. For this recipe I used about 1.5 boxes of their lasagna sheets, but you can adjust depending on how many people you are cooking for.
I made all of the ingredients for this lasagna fresh the day of, but you can use leftover sauce or canned if that is what you have! This recipe is a basis and can be altered to your liking or your ability.
- Homemade tomato sauce (recipe below)
- Pesto ricotta (recipe below)
- 2 boxes of Explore Cuisine “Green Lentil Lasagne” sheets
- 1 bell pepper, chopped finely (I used a mix of yellow, red, and orange for added color!)
- 1/2 of a medium-sized eggplant, roughly chopped
- 1 zucchini, roughly chopped
- 2 links of Field Roast Italian Vegan Sausage, crumbled with hands
In a medium-sized skillet on medium/high heat add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Then add in your finely chopped bell peppers and let them cook down for 1-2 minutes. As the peppers begin to brown add in your roughly chopped eggplant and zucchini and stir. These will take at least 5 minutes to fully cook down. (If you are making your own sauce at the same time I suggest throwing a couple of spoonfuls into the skillet while the veggies are cooking down!!)
Then as the zucchini and eggplant cook down add in your vegan sausage. Crumble this sausage with your hands directly into the skillet. The crumbled sausage will add a nice textural element to this lasagna and have you feeling like this is a meaty dish. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper to the sautéed veggies and stir. Once the vegetables all seemed to have cooked down you can remove them from the heat and set aside until your sauce and pesto ricotta are finished being cooked.
Homemade Tomato Sauce:
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 2 large (28oz) cans of crushed red tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons of dried basil
- 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon of sage
- alt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, on medium/high heat, pour 2 tablespoons of extra olive oil. When oil is heated add in your herb mix of basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and sage. Stir the herbs and allow the heated oil to release the depth of flavors. After about 1 minute, pour in your chopped garlic and onion. Let onion cook down until it becomes translucent, then add both cans of tomatoes. Add in your salt and pepper, I use about 1/2 tsp of each. Stir for a few minutes until sauce begins to bubble, then turn burner to low and cover the pot. Be sure to stir your sauce occasionally to prevent any sticking and test to make sure you have a good blend of spices.
Vegan Pesto Ricotta Cheese:
- 1 cup of raw cashews, soaked (for at least 1 hour – up to overnight) then drained
- To soak cashews place 1 cup of raw cashews in a pot of water, covering with about an inch of water, for at least 1 hour.
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 heaping tablespoons of nutritional yeast
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1 handful (about 8-10 leaves) of fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup of water
Pour the cup of raw cashews, drained of excess water, into a blender or food processor. Add the juice of 1 whole lemon, extra virgin olive oil, 2 heaping tablespoons of nutritional yeast, 2-3 cloves of garlic, fresh basil leaves, dried oregano and basil, salt and pepper to taste, and about 1/4 cup of water. If you find that your mixture seems to thick, add in a tablespoon of olive oil or small amounts of water until desired texture is reached. Then set aside until ready to assemble your lasagna. ** If desired leave about 1 tablespoon of pesto ricotta aside and mix with 2 tablespoons of olive oil to use as a gorgeous green garnish (as pictured) on top of the cooked lasagna.
Preheat your oven to 400 F or as directed on your lasagna package.
Then take out a large lasagna tray and spread a generous layer of your tomato sauce onto the bottom of the tray. Then place down one layer of your green lentil lasagna sheets. Spread a thin layer of pesto ricotta on top of the lasagna sheets. Then cover that layer with your sautéed veggies and sausage. Cover your sautéed veggies with a layer of your homemade tomato sauce. Top the tomato sauce with another layer of lasagna sheets.
Repeat this process of pesto ricotta, sautéed veggies, tomato sauce and finally another layer of lasagna sheets. You can repeat this process until you have used all of your fillings or until you have reached your layer of plain lasagna sheets on top. Cover the last layer of lasgna sheets generously with whatever remaining sauce you have. This will help to keep the lasagna from drying out! Then place your lasagna tray in the preheated oven to cook.
Follow your package for exact cooking times. My Explore Cuisine cooks in the oven for 40-45 minutes. Then I let it sit for another 10 minutes before cutting into it.
** If you did set aside a tablespoon of your pesto ricotta, then I suggest mixing it with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Then drizzle it over your lasagna (as pictured by mine) and allow the extra pop of green to enhance the beauty and the flavors of this dish!