Do you have a family member that's not totally down with the idea of vegan food...especially vegan Italian food?
For me, that person is my half-Italian father, the one who taught me how to cook and passed down all of his recipes for dishes like chicken Marsala, meatballs, risotto, homemade manicotti...you get the picture.
Not. Very. Vegan.
I suppose I should mention the fact that telling my father I was cooking with pasta made of legumes nearly made his heart stop.
However, I must say he was much more accepting of the idea of gluten-free pasta than dairy-free cheese.
So, when I first made a vegan lasagna recipe for a non-vegan family function, he was skeptical of tasting something containing a cheese made from...gasp...nuts!
The look of disgust on his face was priceless.
I think he thought I was NUTS!
For everyone besides me, the main course was turkey.
So as the evening progressed, and family members started loading up on second helpings, my daughter noticed something odd about my father's plate.
"Granddaddy!" she yelled, "What's that hiding under your turkey?"
"Nothing. It's nothing. Eat your dinner," he replied.
"It's not nothing! It's lasagna! It's Mommy's vegan lasagna! You like it!"
Aha! My dad was actually enjoying something made with vegan cheese!
Now, that's my idea of an accomplishment! 😉
So, are you ready to give it a try?
Let's get to it!
Why you'll love this recipe
- Something the whole family will love, even those non-vegan members!
- A great meal to prep ahead, or make and freeze like you do with traditional lasagna
- Easy way to get some extra veggies in everyone's diet while hiding it so it's not so obvious
- This is the ultimate comfort food that's perfect to make for dinner tonight!
Ingredients you'll need
- Cashew Ricotta (a vegan ricotta that's easy to make with raw cashews, water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and salt)
- No Boil, Gluten-Free Lentil Lasagna Noodles (using lentil noodles gives the lasagna an extra boost of protein)
- Vegetable Broth
- Baby Spinach
- Tomato Sauce (I used canned sauce to keep this recipe oil-free as most jarred brands contain oil)
How to make gluten-free vegan lasagna - step by step
First, you'll need to make the ricotta filling.
Soak cashews in boiling water for 15 minutes.
Rinse and add to a high-powered blender along with water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and salt.
Blend on high until creamy.
Check out the cashew ricotta post for instructional photographs.
Set the cheese aside until ready to use.
Next, preheat your oven to 400° F.
Warm ½ cup vegetable broth in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the other ½ cup vegetable broth along with the broccoli and eggplant. Season with salt to taste.
Sauté for 3 more minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the spinach a little at a time, stirring constantly until wilted enough to add more until all spinach has been used and is wilted (approximately 3 minutes).
Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to use.
Now, line the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish with 1 ½ cups tomato sauce.
Add the first layer of lasagna noodle sheets (4 sheets) in the pasta sauce-lined baking dish.
Spread ¼ cup of on each sheet.
For the next layer, add ½ of the veggie mixture and evenly distribute atop the cheese.
Pour 1 cup of sauce evenly over the veggie layer.
Then, add another layer of lasagna sheets and press each one down lightly.
Repeat this process 1 more time.
Pour the remaining sauce over top of the lasagna, and use a spatula or spoon to spread the sauce around, ensuring all parts of the lasagna sheets are covered by sauce so that they do not dry out.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake for 10 more minutes.
After removing from the oven, top with vegan Parmesan and fresh chopped basil, if desired.
Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.
- Eggplant: You can replace the eggplant with zucchini, if preferred.
- Broccoli: You can substitute the fresh broccoli florets with frozen ones, if desired. Just be sure to thaw them first before chopping and cooking.
- Spinach: You can use frozen chopped spinach in place of the fresh; however, you will need less frozen than fresh because the frozen is typically blanched before being flash frozen. Use 3 ounces frozen instead of 5 ounces fresh. Be sure to thaw completely and squeeze out any excess water before using. You can add all of it at once instead of in batches since it has already been wilted. Cook until the moisture has evaporated.
- Sauce: Feel free to use homemade sauce or your favorite jarred sauce. Note that most jarred sauces contain oil, but you may be able to find one that does not. For example, the Simply Nature marinara at Aldi does not have oil nor does the 365 fat free marinara at Whole Foods. If you are not avoiding oil, you can use a jarred sauce that contains oil.
- Lentil Lasagna Sheets: You can use another type of noodle such as chickpea, brown rice or a corn/rice blend. See the notes in the recipe card below regarding cook time.
- Cashew Ricotta: If you don't like or can't have cashews, you can try using our almond ricotta instead. For a completely nut-free, option, you can use our sunflower seed ricotta or tofu ricotta cheese.
- Pumpkin Seed Parmesan: If you're not following an oil-free diet, you can use store-bought dairy-free vegan mozzarella-style shreds or shredded vegan Parmesan instead. Add your desired amount of store-bought vegan cheese to the top of the lasagna before covering with foil.
Tips for making gluten-free lasagna
- Don't skimp on the sauce! Be sure to fully coat the bottom of your baking dish or the noodles can stick to it. Also, ensure that ALL areas of the noodles are covered in sauce and that none are left exposed. Doing so will prevent the noodles from drying out and hardening during cooking.
- Don't remove the foil too soon from this delicous vegan lasagna. When uncovered, the sauce will start drying out. We want to get rid of some of the excess moisture from the sauce which is why the foil is removed for the last 10 minutes. However, if you leave the covering off for too long, as the sauce dries out, the noodles will start drying out too and will get hard.
- Want to prep in advance? You can make the ricotta and veggies ahead of time and store them in the fridge until ready to use. You can also prepare the lasagna in the morning, cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate until ready to bake. Remove the lasagna and leave out at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes before baking.
- Feel free to jazz up your jarred sauce by adding some onion powder, garlic powder, garlic salt, red pepper flakes, sea salt and black pepper, etc.
What to serve with vegetable lasagna
If you're not avoiding oil, you can opt for red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil instead.
Frequently asked questions
The Explore brand lentil lasagna sheets I used are available on Amazon and Thrive Market as well as in select grocery stores. You can also buy the Whole Foods Market brand at Whole Foods online or in the store. Banza chickpea sheets are available on the Banza website as well as in some grocery stores. Jovial's brown rice lasagna can be purchased through Thrive Market, at Whole Foods, on Amazon, on Jovial's website and at some grocery stores. You can also find a number of corn/rice brands online and in stores.
Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. If your baking dish has a lid, you can keep it stored in the baking dish.
Otherwise, you can store cut pieces alone or in groups in an airtight container.
Yes! Using a sharp knife, cut the leftover lasagna into slices and place in an airtight containers (or multiple containers depending on how much you have left). You can place a layer of plastic wrap or aluminum foil over top of the container before sealing for extra protection. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw thoroughly in the refrigerator before reheating.
To reheat, place lasagna in a small baking dish lined with some additional tomato sauce, cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375° F until warmed throughout. You can also microwave a lasagna slice with a little sauce on top if desired.. Place a piece of lasagna on a microwave safe dish and cover. Microwave for 1 minute, followed by 30-second intervals, until thoroughly heated.
More gluten-free vegan Italian-inspired recipes
Gluten-Free Vegan Lasagna
- 1 batch cashew ricotta (see below for substitutions including a nut-free option)
- 8-9 oz no boil, gluten-free lentil lasagna sheets (such as Explore or Whole Foods Market; see notes below regarding using other types of noodles)
- 1 cup vegetable broth, divided (ensure the brand you are using is oil-free)
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 2 cups chopped broccoli florets
- 2 cups diced eggplant
- fine sea salt or kosher salt to taste
- 5 oz baby spinach
- 1 (28 oz.) *can oil-free, vegan tomato sauce
- 1 (15 oz.) *can oil-free, vegan tomato sauce
- 1-2 tablespoon oil-free vegan Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Fresh chopped basil, for garnish (optional)
- Make the cashew ricotta and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Warm ½ cup vegetable broth in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the other ½ cup vegetable broth along with the broccoli and eggplant. Season with salt to taste. Sauté for 3 more minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the spinach a little at a time, stirring constantly until wilted enough to add more until all spinach has been used and is wilted (approximately 3 minutes). Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to use.
- Line the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish with 1 ½ cups tomato sauce. Add the first layer of lasagna sheets (4 sheets) in the sauce-lined baking dish.
- Dollop ¼ cup of the ricotta mixture onto each lasagna sheet. Spread around evenly using a small silicone spatula or spoon. Evenly distribute half of the veggie mixture over the ricotta layer. Pour 1 cup of sauce over top of the veggie layer. Add another layer of lasagna sheets and press each one down lightly. Repeat this process 1 more time.
- Pour the remaining sauce over top of the lasagna, and use a spatula or spoon to spread the sauce around, ensuring all parts of the lasagna sheets are covered by sauce so that they do not dry out.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 more minutes.
- After removing from the oven, top with vegan Parmesan and fresh chopped basil, if desired. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting into pieces and serving.
(Please refer to the post above for instructional photographs and other helpful information for this recipe)
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