For Chatelaine’s video series, Vegan It! with Lauren Toyota, the former MuchMusic VJ and current YouTube star and cookbook author, demonstrates how to create vegan versions of everyone’s favourite comfort classics — like grilled cheese and caesar salad — without elaborate recipes or compromising on taste.
In this episode:
Lauren prepares a saucy, cheesy and filling lasagna. Here are her tricks for:
Making dairy-free tofu ricotta
Instead of using a store-bought substitute, Lauren makes her own vegan ricotta from scratch. She mimics the essence of salty ricotta by mixing crumbled extra-firm tofu with lemon juice (for a cheesy tang), nutritional yeast, garlic and fresh basil.Vegan Mac And Cheese! How To Make The Classic Comfort Food Without Any Dairy
Whipping up a creamy béchamel sauce
To make her lasagna extra decadent, Lauren uses classic tomato sauce as well as her version of a creamy béchamel. Since heavy cream is off limits, she relies on her trusty high-speed blender to transform soft tofu, tahini, cornstarch, nutritional yeast, non-dairy milk and veggie stock into a luscious white sauce.
Adding some veg to the mix
A vegetarian or vegan lasagna would taste delicious with just noodles, faux-cheese and sauce, but to give her dish some heft, Lauren adds veggies to her noodle party. She uses thin strips of zucchini, carrot ribbons (made using a Y-peeler) and baby spinach, but feel free to swap these out for whatever you have on hand. (Lauren recommends eggplant. Bell peppers would be delish too.) Lauren pre-cooks her veggies before layering them in the lasagna to ensure the whole thing’s soft and gooey.
MAKES 4 to 6 servings
PREP TIME 60 minutes
COOK TIME 70 minutes
- 1 block extra-firm tofu, crumbled
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/2 cup soft tofu
- 1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Vegan Lasagna Layers
- 1 jar (640 ml) tomato sauce (about 1 3/4 cups)
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
- 1 cup carrot ribbons
- 4 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 pack of ready bake lasagna noodles (you’ll use about 200g)
- 1 1/3 cup vegan mozzarella shreds
- To make the tofu ricotta, crumble the tofu into small pieces resembling ricotta cheese with your hands. Add in the remaining ingredients and combine with a fork. Keep in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble the lasagna.
- To make the béchamel, put all these ingredients in a blender and combine until smooth.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
- You can make nice carrot ribbons using a vegetable peeler or you can shred the carrot with a cheese grater. Partially cook the zucchini and carrot in a pan over medium heat with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Set them aside on a dish and use the same pan to cook the spinach. Get it wilted and soft but don’t overcook it. It should still be bright green. If you want to use frozen spinach just make sure you thaw and drain out the water.
- Use a deep 8 x 8-inch glass baking dish to assemble the lasagna. Lightly coat the inside of the dish with 1 tablespoon of olive oil you can spread around evenly with your hand.
- Assemble the lasagna in the order below and then cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and turn the broiler to high and bake for 10 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Allow the lasagna to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before cutting and serving.
- Pour about a 1/2 cup of tomato sauce into the bottom of the dish and spread out an even layer with a spatula or spoon.
- Add one layer of noodles across. You might need to break them to fit in the dish, but you can overlap the noodles if they don’t fit perfectly in the dish.
- Then take half the amount of tofu ricotta and spread it evenly over the noodles.
- Take 1/3 cup of shredded mozzarella and sprinkle over top.
- Add all the spinach on top of the mozzarella.
- Pour half the béchamel evenly over the top being sure to get some of it down the sides of the dish.
- Add ¾ cup of the tomato sauce on top, spreading out to the edges.
- Then add another noodle layer, turning the noodles the opposite direction from the first layer.
- Use the other half of the tofu ricotta as the next layer.
- Take another 1/3 cup of shredded mozzarella and sprinkle over top of the tofu ricotta.
- Add the zucchini and carrots in an alternating fashion as one layer.
- Pour the remaining béchamel evenly over top.
- Add another ½ cup of the tomato sauce on top and spread out to the edges of the baking dish.
- Then add one more layer of noodles and the remaining tomato sauce on top.
- Sprinkle 2/3 cup of shredded mozzarella as the topping.