This vegan lasagna is a hit with vegans and meat-eaters alike!
When I think of the ultimate comfort food, I think of lasagna. As a young kid, I was a really picky eater, and all I wanted to eat was bread, cheese, and tomato sauce. Hence why I was absolutely stoked when my mother would could her lasagna. Now mind you, my mother’s lasagna was amazing, but I’m pretty sure back then it wasn’t the healthiest.
I was vegan for over 5 years and I have to say that one of the hardest things about following a vegan lifestyle is going to parties. Not only was it difficult to find something to eat that would fill me, but it was also almost impossible to bring over a side dish that people not following a vegan diet wouldn’t scowl at.
The meat texture of this dish comes from the eggplant. Eggplant is one of the vegetables that you either love or hate. If you’re one of the people who hate it, it’s probably because you haven’t eaten it properly prepared.
Eggplant’s flavor is mainly dependent upon how it’s cooked and how it is seasoned. When roasted or baked, eggplant has a surprising depth of flavor. Because eggplant flesh absorbs liquid and oil way too easily giving it a greasy texture, it’s very important to cure it first through the salting and pressing technique described in the directions.
Most people shy away from eating eggplant not because of the taste, but because of the texture. In order to prevent the eggplant from feeling rubbery, it’s important that after curing with salt to cut into pieces that are no thicker than 1/8 inch.
To make sure you don’t end up with an overly salty vegan lasagna, it’s important to rinse the eggplant after curing. After rinsing, make sure to squeeze the eggplant and pat it dry.
1cupbasilfresh, loosely packed, cut into 1/4 inch thick ribbons
For The Eggplants:
Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Cut the eggplant(s) lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Place in a single layer on a flat surface or 2 baking sheets, overlapping slightly as needed, and sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Flip the eggplant and sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt; let sit until water beads form on the surface, at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce.
For The Sauce:
Using a food processor fitted with a blade attachment, pulse the tomatoes and their juices, in batches as needed, until coarsely chopped (about 10 pulses). Heat the oil in a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds more.
Push the onions and garlic to one side of the pan and add the tomato paste to the empty side of the pan. Cook the paste slightly to remove the raw flavor, stirring occasionally, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir the onions and garlic into the paste to incorporate. Add the chopped tomatoes, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, and a few pinches of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes to meld the flavors.
Season with red pepper flakes as needed; set aside.
To Finish The Eggplant:
Using paper towels, pat the eggplant slices dry on both sides. In a large nonstick frying pan, heat 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add just enough eggplant to sit in a single layer in the pan and sear on both sides, about 4 minutes total. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Transfer to a plate and repeat, in batches, with another 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil and the remaining uncooked eggplant.
While the eggplant cooks, place the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, parsley, vinegar, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and stir to combine. Transfer the seared eggplant to the oil-vinegar mixture and toss.
For The Noodles:
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the noodles and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain. When cool enough to handle, lay the pieces flat on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
For The Filling:
Place the tofu, parsley, nutritional yeast (if using), lemon zest, lemon juice, and measured salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Taste and season with more lemon juice, salt, and pepper as needed; set aside.
To Assemble The Lasagna:
Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Place a single layer of noodles on top of the sauce, about 3 regular-sized noodles. Top the noodles with a quarter of the tofu filling (about 1 cup) and spread evenly. Lay a quarter of the eggplant slices over the filling. Spread about 1 cup of sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with about 1/4 cup of the basil leaves. Make three more layers of noodles, filling, eggplant, sauce, and basil, omitting the basil from the top layer.
Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes. Uncover and bake until bubbling, about 10 minutes more. Let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup basil. Serve with any remaining tomato sauce.
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Disclaimer: The techniques, strategies, and suggestions expressed here are intended to be used for educational purposes only. The author, Angelique Johnson, and the associated www.nutritionbyangelique.net are not rendering medical advice, nor to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any disease, condition, illness, or injury. It is imperative that before beginning any nutrition or exercise program you receive full medical clearance from a licensed physician.
Angelique Johnson and www.nutritionbyangelique.net claim no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented here.