I love to entertain. Especially when that means making a (surprise) vegan meal for everyone to enjoy. When I’m having people over, I tend to make one of two things : Mac- No-Cheese or Lasagna.
Both Mac and Cheese and Lasagna are things people know which makes them the perfect thing to make and leave the “vegan” word out of the description. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: “Vegan” leaves a weird taste in peoples mouths. (Sometimes literally!) People expect food to taste a certain way if they know it’s meatless/dairy-free, etc. So, when I serve it to my friends, I tend to leave that word out. But if food looks and smells the same as how they remember it, chances are they won’t notice some ingredients are missing!
Case and Point – Lasagna Night for the Guys
I make lasagna often because it’s an awesome way to serve more veggies to unsuspecting people (Read – Kids, or people who eat like them). I made it for a group of guy friends last year. When I cut into it and served up a slice one guy noted, “Ooh! Ricotta. It’s not a real lasagna if it doesn’t have ricotta, in my opinion!” Well, jokes on him. It wasn’t the actual dairy ricotta he expected, but because that’s what he saw, that’s what he tasted. The mind has a funny way of psyching the taste buds out.
Well, it’s about time!
I’ve been making this lasagna for friends and family over the last two years. It wasn’t until Ella, a coworker, asked me about the recipe that I realized I’ve been keeping it to myself! She came over to learn how to make it and chow down! Seriously, she ate one slice and I sent her home with about 2-3 slices. About 45 minutes later, she sent a text that it was already devoured! Thanks Ella, for coming over and reminding me to get this recipe up!
Note From the Blogger:
I make a variation of this comfort food classic, where the veggies, sauce, and dairy-free cheeses stay the same… But I like to switch up the protein from time to time. I either bake and smash Gardein Meatless Meatballs or I slice up Field Roast Italian Sausages to really amp up the flavor! I’ve included both options in the recipe, but if you don’t have access to either, feel free to leave it out. It’s still super tasty!
- 1 Zucchini, sliced 1/8" thick
- 2 cups Shredded Kale
- 8 oz Whole Baby Bella Mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
- 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
- 1/2 large Yellow Onion, diced
- 2 Bell Peppers, diced (I like to use a red and yellow, but use what you've got or what's on sale!)
- 3 cloves Garlic, minced and separated
- 4 Field Roast Italian Sausages, sliced 1/4" thick OR 1 bag Gardein Meatless Meatballs, baked according to the package and crumbled
- 2 jars Favorite Pasta Sauce
- 16 oz (2 packages) Kite Hill Ricotta
- 1/4 cup Non-Dairy Milk
- 18-20 Lasagna Noodles, cooked according to the box and drained
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 3 TBSP + 2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided - 3 TBSP, 1 tsp, 1 tsp.
- 1/2 cup or more Daiya Mozzarella Shreds
- 1/4 cup or more Follow Your Heart Shredded Parmesan
- Cook sausage links or bake meatless meatballs according to the package instructions. If using sausage, slice after cooking. If using meatless meatballs, let them cool before crumbling with a fork, until it looks like ground meat.
- In a food processor, pulse the mushrooms until finely chopped. Sauté in a dry pan over medium heat. When the mushrooms have released their liquid, add in Italian Seasoning. Transfer mushrooms to a large bowl. Add in 2 jars of pasta sauce and set aside.
- In a dry pan over medium heat, add in one clove of minced garlic and the kale. Continue stirring until the kale starts to wilt. Once it's started to wilt on its own, add in 1/4 cup of water to keep the kale from drying out. Once completely wilted, remove kale and garlic from pan and set aside.
- Still over medium heat, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the pan and sauté the peppers, onions and 1 clove minced garlic. Cook until the onions become translucent and the peppers soften. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Again, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the pan over medium heat. Add in garlic and zucchini slices and sauté until the zucchini softens. Remove from pan and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, stir together two packages of Kite Hill ricotta cheese, 3 TBSP olive oil and 1/4 cup non-dairy milk. Mixture should be wet and creamy. Set aside
- Preheat the oven to 375. Spread one ladle of sauce in 13"x9" baking dish or 14" Lasagna pan, making sure to cover the bottom completely.
- Layer in 4 lasagna noodles, overlapping slightly and 1/2 of a noodle on the end that isn't covered. Top noodles evenly with 1/2 of the zucchini and kale. Top with 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, carefully spreading evenly over the vegetables. Ladle on another 2 ladles of sauce, covering evenly.
- Top with another 4 1/2 lasagna noodles (this time making sure that the 1/2 noodle will be on the opposite end of the pan). Add in 1/2 of the peppers/onion mixture and 1/2 the protein option of your choice. Top with 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, carefully spreading evenly. Cover lightly with another ladle of sauce.
- Top with another 4 1/2 lasagna noodles (alternating the 1/2 noodle's location again). Cover evenly with the remaining vegetables and protein. Top with remaining ricotta, 4 1/2 more noodles and the rest of the sauce. If you're not a fan of the crunchy noodle edges, tuck any edges back into the pan with a rubber spatula. Top with mozzarella shreds and shredded parmesan.
- Bake 25-30 min covered with foil. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes to melt the cheese. Garnish with basil chiffonade, if desired.
- **For best results, let the lasagna cool for 15 minutes before serving. It allows for all of the juices to settle and the lasagna will be more likely to hold it's shape and layers!