I've definitely enjoyed some pretty great plant-based lasagnas at restaurants where the chef swap in vegetables for the noodles. But when I make lasagna at home, I want it to be as close as possible to the kind I grew up with. It has to be saucy and hearty, it has to spend some serious time in the oven, and, most importantly, it has to have noodles! This recipe checks all of those boxes and is just as delicious as the "real thing."
The Building Blocks of a Delicious Plant-Based Lasagna
- Nutritional yeast: This ingredient is optional, but it brings such a nice cheesy vibe to the finished dish. Nutritional yeast — a deactivated yeast — might be new to your kitchen (and yes, it does look like fish food), but once you use it, you're going to want to throw it on everything. Look for it in the bulk section if you don't want to commit to a big container.
- Tamari: Tamari is similar to soy sauce, but is made without the wheat (read more about the differences here). Combined with the mushrooms in this recipe, it develops a nice umami flavor that helps gives this lasagna a punch of richer flavor.
- Mushrooms: Baby bellas are readily available at most grocery stores and work great for this dish. If you can track down a nice variety pack of mushrooms (portobello, oyster, shiitake) at the market or your store, go for those. They'll add a great texture and even more flavor.
- Cashews: Cashews save the day when it comes to dairy-free dishes. In this lasagna, they are blended with veggie broth and then added to the mushrooms and tamari, creating a bechamel-style sauce that is truly the star of this recipe.
Creamy Vegan Mushroom Lasagna
Olive or coconut oil, or vegetable broth for sautéing
cloves garlic, minced
mushrooms, chopped (you can use a mix of different mushrooms)
tamari or coconut aminos
raw cashews, soaked in water for a few hours (overnight is best), then drained
big handfuls spinach
dried lasagna noodles
marinara sauce (about 32 ounces), divided
Nutritional yeast (optional)
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F.
Heat a glug of oil or veggie broth in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms, tamari, and thyme and cook, stirring every minute or so, until the mushrooms release their water and a little broth starts to form, 6 to 8 minutes total.
Meanwhile, place the soaked cashews and broth in a blender and blend until completely smooth. (This might take up to 5 minutes, depending on the speed and power of your blender.) Pour the cashew sauce into the pan with the mushrooms. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for a couple minutes to let the sauce thicken, stirring frequently. Throw in the spinach and stir until wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Prepare the lasagna noodles according to the package instructions. Make sure to do this after your mushroom sauce is ready to go, so the noodles don't sit for too long and start sticking together.
Spread 1/3 of the marinara sauce (1 1/3 cups) on the bottom of an 8-by-11-inch baking dish. Top with a layer of noodles. Cover the noodles with 1/2 of the mushroom cream. Top with a second layer of noodles. Cover with another 1/3 of the marinara. Cover with the remaining mushroom cream. Top with the last layer of noodles, then cover it with the remaining marinara sauce.
Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, add a sprinkle of nutritional yeast over the top if desired, and bake for 15 minutes more. Let the lasagna rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Reprinted with permission from One Part Plant: A Simple Guide to Eating Real, One Meal at a Time by Jessica Murnane, copyright (c) 2017 by Harper Wave.