Vegan Lasagna made oil-free: a delightful feast for anyone
Updated: Jan 2, 2019
Lasagna was not a dish I made a lot when I wasn't vegan, but making it whole-grain and vegan was not only easy, it opened my eyes up to a whole new treasure trove of vegan foods; the seitans! Seitan is just vital wheat gluten and water, with spices thrown in for different flavors.
This lasagna will delightfully surprise the most discerning eater! Layers of spinach, vegan cheese and sausage seitan meld with the tomatoey goodness. I had trouble finding whole grain pasta in lasagna noodles so I ended up using Brown Rice pasta noodles and they worked well. They worked so well, that if you are generous with the tomato sauce you use, you don't have to cook the lasagna noodles first. Just put sauce down in your 9 x 13 pyrex, then a layer of noodles, then the spinach and the vegan cheese and sausage and more sauce, etc. There is a very good oil-free spaghetti sauce that I really like called "Lucini" "Tuscan Marinara". Sprouts sells it. It has very few ingredients and tastes great! We often top our spaghetti and lasagna and many other dishes with vegan parmesan.
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water(cool)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
Seitan, vital wheat gluten, is interesting because it looks just like flour, but when you add water to it, instead of becoming a plaster of paris sticky mess, vital wheat gluten sticks together. You put the vital wheat gluten in a bowl, then add the nutritional yeast, the onion and garlic powder, the allspice and thyme. Stir well. You combine the water, soy sauce and liquid smoke in a separate bowl. Stir. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine. Now this is important, you must knead the mixture, until it starts getting stretchy and it forms a loaf or a ball or whatever shape you desire. The kneading activates the gluten in the seitan. For lasagna, I make a lopsided ball, then tear pieces off and drop them into the broth.
3 cups water
1 Tbsp Season All
1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
You will need a big pot because I double the recipe of both the seitan and the broth when I make lasagna. Seitan isn't finished until you get the broth boiling, then turn down the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. I threw pieces of seitan into my broth because I wanted it to look a little like sausage, but you can make a loaf out of your seitan and cut it into slices and boil the slices. It doesn't matter which form the seitan takes, it just needs to simmer in that boiling broth for 45 minutes to complete cooking. Once the seitan is done cooking in the broth, you can take the seitan out and eat it like a sandwich meat, or store it in some broth in your refrigerator to eat later. It's delicious and it won't make you feel super full because it's all plants!
Once the seitan is done, I used a slotted spoon to pick pieces of the seitan out of the broth and into my lasagna. Don't leave the seitan in the broth once it is done cooking. I accidently did this once and my seitan became squishy and not nearly as flavorful as it once was. So, when the seitan has cooked in the brothfor 45 minutes, take it out of the broth. The beauty of lasagna is it's messy inside before you bake it. So spread your spinach over the noodles then throw a bunch of pieces of seitan scattered across the spinach, spoon the cheese onto the spinach, then add more sauce.
This is the cheese that I put in my lasagna:
1 cup (12 oz) extra firm or firm tofu, pressed for 40 minutes
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2-3/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp dry basil
1 Tbsp dry parsley
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp dry oregano
This vegan cheese adds another layer of flavor to your lasagna and is essential for the lasagna taste. Squeeze the water out of your firm tofu by putting it between kitchen towels and then placing some thing heavy on top, or use the tofu press which you can find online and which works very well!
Set oven to 375 degrees. Place the tofu press on a plate to catch the liquid as it drains out of the tofu. Place the tofu between these plastic plates and rotate the two screw handles on top and screw the top plate down on top of the tofu and you just keep screwing the handles until the tofu is somewhat squished. The screwing sides don't have to be perfectly even but it helps to get the top plate as flat as possible. Then let it sit for 40 minutes. Or, of course you can use towels and something heavy to squish the water out of your tofu. Either way works. A lot of water will be squished out and your ricotta will be drier and a better texture for the lasagna.
Place the squeezed tofu, nutritional yeast, fresh basil, lemon juice, dried basil, oregano and parsley, salt, onion and garlic powder all together into a blender and blend! It's that easy! Then when you want to add it to your lasagna, just spoon onto your lasagna layer.
To make the lasagna, get a 9 x 13 pyrex and spread tomato sauce all along the bottom. Lay three pieces of lasagna noodles across the bottom of the 9 x13. Then cover with vegetables, I used spinach because its cruciferous and melts away in lasagna! Sprinkle pieces of seitan all across the spinach, then dot your ricotta all across the 9 x 13. First layer done! Lay three more lasagna noodles, cover with tomato sauce, cover with spinach, sprinkle seitan all around and then spoon more ricotta every where. Second layer done! Lay three more lasagna noodles, cover with tomato sauce, cover with spinach, sprinkle seitan all around and then spoon ricotta everywhere. Third layer done! Lay a final three pieces of lasagna noodles and cover with tomato sauce. This time add the rest of your seitan and your ricotta and sprinkle all over. Cover the top with vegan parmesan cheese. Bake in a 375 degree over for 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly all around.
Vegan Parmesan Cheese
3/4 cup raw or roasted cashews
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
3/4 Tbsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
Throw into a blender and blend until just coarse and somewhat crumbly. It's okay to have some slightly bigger pieces of cashews in the mix. It tastes great!
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