This Vegan Lasagna recipe is made with a robust mushroom bolognese, fresh basil, vegan “tofu” ricotta, and no-boil lasagna noodles, topped off with a creamy marinara sauce, drizzled with Arugula Pesto. Vegan comfort food at its tastiest! Video.
What is more comforting in winter, than a hearty Lasagna Bolognese? Today I’d thought I’d share a vegan Lasagna to add to your plant-based repertoire, one that got two thumbs up from my non-vegan husband.
The mushroom bolognese filling is rich and robust, worthy enough for a big bold glass of red wine. The vegan ricotta adds delicious richness and creaminess and has a very similar texture to real ricotta. Instead of topping the lasagna off with cheese or vegan cheese, we blend some cashews into the final layer of marinara sauce to add a little more creaminess. Finally, we drizzle a little Arugula Pesto over top to add a bit of brightness, and beautiful vibrant color.
The recipe is not hard, but several steps can be tackled in stages if you prefer, or pick a day like Sunday when you are not pressed for time. Using the no-boil lasagna noodles and a jarred Marinara Sauce, does help by saving a few steps.
Watch how to make Vegan Lasagna!| 60-sec Video
How to Make Vegan Lasagna (in a nutshell):
See the recipe card for detailed instructions. A good way to tackle this is to make this in “stages”!
- Make the mushroom bolognese filling – 20 minutes
- Make the vegan ricotta– 10 mintues
- Make the creamy tomato sauce (blend 1 cup marinara sauce with cashews) 5 minutes
- Assemble and Bake 50-60 minutes
- Make the arugula pesto while it is baking.
To make this in stages- you could make the mushroom bolognese, ricotta, creamy marinara and pesto ahead 1-3 days ahead. Then assemble and bake. Or assemble it ahead, and bake on the day of. If freezing, I would bake, then freeze.
Vegan lasagna (Step-by-Step Instructions)
Step one: Make the Mushroom Bolognese! Saute the onions and garlic, getting them golden and caramelized. This is key to adding depth and flavor here. Add the mushrooms and red bell pepper, browning the mushrooms. Season.
At this point, you could deglaze with a little red wine if you like, cooking it off, or skip it.
TIP: For extra heartiness, you could add 1 cup cooked lentils or ground toasted walnuts to the mushrooms- both are optional, but add depth and texture!
Add a few generous handfuls of baby spinach.
Stir the spinach and let it wilt.
Set 1 cup of marina sauce aside (place it in a blender) and pour the remaining into the pan.
Rinse out the marinara jar with 1/2 cup water, stir it into the bolognese to incorporate, taste, season well with salt and pepper if needed, and turn the heat off.
TIP: The extra water here helps to moisten the dry lasagna noodles. You want this to be flavorful and saucy- not dry!
Step two: Make Creamy Marina sauce. At the same time, as the bolognese is going, set cashews to simmer in water until soft ( alternatively you can soak the cashews in water for 6 hours or until tender)
Drain the cashews and place them in the blender with the 1 cup of remaining marinara, add water, olive oil and salt.
Blend until creamy and smooth, adjusting salt and pepper to taste. This will be the bottom and top layer of the lasagna. Set aside!
Pulse until creamy- but not overly smooth. Set aside. Medium or firm tofu works best here. Extra-firm tofu, may end up too dry.
Step four: Assemble the Vegan Lasagna! Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Spread half of the Creamy Marinara on the bottom.
Add a layer of no-boil lasagna noodles, overlapping slightly.
Pour in half of the flavorful, saucy, mushroom bolognese.
Add half of the vegan ricotta, and sprinkle with 1/3 of the basil ribbons. You could add vegan cheese here if you like too~!
Repeat the layers. Add lasagna noodles.
Add the remaining mushroom bolognese and the remaining vegan ricotta. Sprinkle with basil.
Step five: Bake! Cover tightly with parchment and foil and bake. (If the top of the lasagna is touching the foil, please separate with a layer of parchment, as anything “wet” that comes in contact with foil will break down the foil and it will end up in your food-not good-yuck!)
***At this point you could refrigerate it, and bake 1-3 days later, bringing it to room temperature first.
Bake at 375F for 50-60 minutes.
Of course, you can always add vegan meltable cheese to this- on the top, or in the layers.
Step six: While the lasagna bakes make the flavorful Arugula Pesto (or use your own favorite pesto, or even store-bought, though typically not vegan).
Drizzle the pesto over the lasagna.
Step 6: Serve! Not only will the arugula pesto add bright flavor here, but it will also elevate the vegan lasagna’s appearance. Add the last of the basil ribbons.
Sometimes I’ll make extra vegan ricotta and dot the lasagna with dollops on the top before baking. Also good.
The leftovers are really tasty reheated and will keep up to 4 days in the fridge. Or feel free to freeze.
- Bolognese: After publishing this recipe, I’ve been adding cooked lentils and/or ground walnuts to the bolognese for added protein and heartiness. For example, you could add 1 cup of cooked lentils. Or add 1/2 cup ground walnuts to the existing recipe. You can add plant-based ground meat. Just keep in mind you’ll need at least 4 cups of bolognese sauce total– making sure it is saucy and flavorful!
- Creamy Marinara Sauce: You can use hemp hearts instead of cashews- no need to simmer, just blend with the 1/3 cup water and 1 cup marinara, salt and olive oil.
- Vegan Cheese: Feel free to use store-bought vegan ricotta, or add meltable vegan cheese to the layers, and/ or on the top.
Serve vegan lasagna with a hearty leafy green salad, and garlic bread, and dinner is ready!
Lasagna will keep up to 4 days in the refrigerator in a sealed container, or can be frozen in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can freeze unbaked or baked. Thaw completely before baking or reheating.
On the homefront: I love sun. The older I get I just can’t seem to get enough of it. It fuels me and energizes me and as much as everyone says it’s not good for you- I don’t care, I choose to believe it is good for me. Yes, I am wrinkled and freckled, and I suppose that is the trade-off.
The other day, in Encinitas, Brian and I went on a very sunny walk. It was glorious. We were several miles from home and out of nowhere, a storm overtook us. A downpour like you’d see in the tropics. At first, it was really irritating, there was nowhere to take cover and we were not prepared- in our shorts and tee shirts. Within minutes, we were drenched and freezing. There was no point in walking around the puddles because my tennis shoes had puddles in them. 😉
And then I swear, a voice like Eckhart Tolle whispered in my ear “when you resist, you suffer.” So I stopped resisting, and gradually my anger turned to laughter once I resigned myself to the fact that I was just going to be soaking wet for a while. And it reminded me…
There have been many times in my life, where “not accepting” what was happening, made things so much harder for me- and I’m not just talking about thunderstorms here. Life often brings heartache and tragedy. We can’t escape this. I’ve found the first step to healing is simply, accepting. Having a good cry. Maybe even every day. For a long time. And stop fighting (mentally) what is happening. In this place of vulnerability, we are closest to the truth of who we really are. It is scary, uncomfortable, yet a profoundly beautiful place to be.
Yes, a strange tangent for a recipe blog, but I guess it wanted to come out… 😉
Hope you enjoy this Vegan Lasagna Bolognese! Let us know in the comments below.
- 1/3 cup cashews
- water to cover
Mushroom Bolognese Filling:
- 2 tablespoons oil
- one large onion, diced
- 4–8 garlic cloves, rough chopped
- 1 lb mushrooms, sliced (see notes for other options)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- pinch cayenne
- 25-ounce jar marina sauce- divided
- 2–3 big handfuls of baby spinach
- Optional additions: 1 cup of cooked lentils or vegan ground meat or 1/2 cup of ground walnuts- see notes.
- 1/2 cup basil ribbons, divided
- 16-ounce block tofu (firm or extra firm- do not use silken)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic clove or 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 cup fresh basil or parsley (or 1 teaspoon dry Italian seasoning)
12 No-Boil lasagna noodles
Optional: 1 1/2 cups shredded meltable Vegan Cheese
A batch of Arugula Pesto or use store-bought pesto
Preheat oven to 375 F
Simmer Cashews: (or soak in cold water 4-8 hours) Place cashews in a small pot, cover with 1 cup water, bring to simmer, cover, simmer 15 minutes, turn heat off, leave covered so they soften. At the same time, start the Mushroom Bolognese.
Make the Mushroom Bolognese: Heat oil in an extra-large skillet. Saute the onion 4-5 minutes until fragrant. Add the garlic, lower heat to medium, and saute 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms, red bell pepper, salt pepper and fennel seeds, and saute until mushrooms release their liquid, and begin to caramelize about 10-15 minutes. Deglaze with red wine if you like, cooking it all off. Stir in the spinach, wilting.
Reserve 1 cup of marinara sauce, and put this in a blender. Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups of marinara sauce to the mushroom mixture, stirring it in. Rinse the jar with 1/2 cup water and pour this into the bolognese. Bring to a simmer, for 2-3 minutes, season to your liking, adding salt and pepper if you like. If using a sugar-free marinara, a couple teaspoons of maple syrup is nice here. If it lacks depth, you could stir in a little a miso paste. Every jar of marinara is different, so make sure it is flavorful and “saucy” enough to cook the lasagna noodles. If it seems dry, add a little more water.
Creamy Marinara: Add the 1 cup marinara to the blender, along with drained cashews and 1/3 cup water. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. All together in the blender, you should have about 2 cups- so add more water if need be. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Blend until very creamy and smooth, a full minute. This will be used on the top and bottom of the lasagna.
Assemble: Grease a deep 9 x 13-inch baking dish with spray oil or olive oil. Pour 1 cup of the blended Creamy Marinara Sauce in the bottom, enough to lightly coat. Layer 4 lasagna noodles. Spread out half of the mushroom bolognese. Dot with half of the tofu ricotta. (Feel free to add meltable vegan cheese here if you like). Sprinkle with a third of the basil ribbons. Repeat: add 4 lasagna noodles, the remaining mushroom bolognese, the remaining tofu ricotta, (optional vegan cheese) and 1/3 of the basil ribbons. Top with the final layer of lasagna noodles, pressing down a bit to create a level base. Cover with the remaining blender sauce. Cover tightly with foil. If the lasagna touches the foil, place a piece of parchment between the lasagna and foil. At this point, you could refrigerate and bake 1-4 days later (letting it come to room temp first).
BAKE: Place in the middle of the oven and bake 50-60 minutes. While it is baking, make the Arugula Pesto.
Remove the foil, test with a knife to see if pasta is tender, all the way through. Let stand 10 minutes. Spoon a little of the Arugula Pesto over top and sprinkle with remaining basil ribbons.
Bolognese: After publishing this recipe, I’ve been adding cooked lentils and/or ground walnuts to the bolognese for added protein and heartiness. For example, you could add 1 cup of cooked lentils. Or add 1/2 cup ground walnuts to the existing recipe. You can add plant-based ground meat. Just keep in mind you’ll need at least 4 cups of bolognese sauce total– making sure it is saucy and flavorful!
Vegan Cheese: Feel free to use store-bought vegan ricotta, or add meltable vegan cheese to the layers, and/ or on the top.
- Serving Size: ⅛ th serving without the Arugula Pesto.
- Calories: 394
- Sugar: 9.9 g
- Sodium: 816.6 mg
- Fat: 14.3 g
- Saturated Fat: 2.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 51.4 g
- Fiber: 8.6 g
- Protein: 15.1 g
- Cholesterol: 2 mg
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