The most recent issue of the Veg Times had an ASSLOAD of tasty-sounding recipes, so I've kind of been whoring it up on the VT front. (I posted one last week I think, and I have another one in the queue. The queue being MY BRAIN.)
Anyways, the recipe I was most looking forward to trying was their Ultimate Vegan Lasagna. It called for vegan Italian sausage links, which sounded f-ing delish. The "ricotta cheez" recipe sounded boss (I'm having a 1980s moment--please excuse). And the sauce was roasted red pepper-based which sounded yum.
But when all was said and done, I wasn't sure whether to be angry at this recipe or embrace it and grab its ass for a wee little squeeze.
- There is NO way the amount of sauce the recipe calls for can cover a whole lasagna. NO MOTHERF-ING WAY. Allegedly, the sauce recipe makes 5.5 cups. And I'd like to believe that. Really I would. But there's no way.
Fallacies: a) This sauce calls for two small onions. But then they say in parenthesis (2 cups). Now, if two of VT's small onions = 2 cups, then MOTHER OF GOD, I can only imagine what their large onions look like: Beachballs. Blimps. Small planets. And perhaps this partially accounts for the dryness of the lasagna, but b) giving this the benefit of the doubt that it DID make 5.5 cups, I'm STILL not sure that's enough for a whole lasagna. Consequently, this lasagna was extremely dry, especially as leftovers. My mom said she liked it that way, that it was nice to not have a sauce that was overpowering 'cause it let the other flavors shine through. Then again: it WAS my mom saying this, so although I don't doubt she liked it, I think I could poop on a saltine and she'd probably STILL give it a thumb's up. 'Cause she's my mom. But to me: incredibly dry. And maybe I'm a cracked-out sauce whore. (That IS a possibility.) But look at how dry it is in my pic. And if you can, check out the pic in the Veg Times. Entirely different sauce-fest.
- Regardless of whether or not this actually made 5.5 cups as it alleges (I'm gonna assume that it did): this is STILL not enough sauce to allow for you to not precook your noodles. You want to know how long this lasagna cooked before the noodles were remotely soft? At least an hour and a half. And that included me bumping up the temp of the oven to 425-degrees after the first 30 minutes. And it was supposed to take only 45 to 50 minutes at 375. FALSE! In order for that to actually have taken place, you need an OCEAN of sauce, my friends.
- I wasn't really bowled over by the inclusion of vegan Italian sausages in all this. Which was kind of disappointing since it was one of the things that attracted me to the recipe in the first place.
- This ricotta cheez recipe is the BOMB (1980s moment #2). Seriously. I haven't made a ton of fake ricottas, but this puts the ones I HAVE made to shame. And no doubt it's the inclusion of vegan cream cheez. It gives it a weird, sour, cloud-likeness that is weirdly reminiscent of ricotta in both flavor and consistency in a way that, say, the VwaV ricotta cheez recipe does not quite capture.
So, my conclusion: I don't know that I'd ever make this recipe again. Even if I DID whip up extra sauce, I don't think it was worth the cost (which is pretty hefty, seeing as you need to buy two cubes of tofu, a tub of vegan cream cheez, AND vegan Italian sausages, which is at LEAST $10 or so, and that's not including the ingredients for the sauce, the noodles, etc.) because really, there isn't anything mind-blowing about this lasagna. EXCEPT for the tofu ricotta.
Toss the rest of the recipe and steal that, my peeps. And start using it wildly, crazily, and all over the place.
You will not be disappointed.
- 2 t. olive oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped (2 c.)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 10-oz. bag fresh baby spinach
- 2 12-oz. pkgs. firm tofu, drained
- 1 8-oz pkg. vegan cream cheese
- 1/2 c. chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 c. nutritional yeast
- 1 12-oz. jar roasted red peppers, rinsed and drained
- 1 T. olive oil
- 2 small onions, diced (2 c.)
- 2 T. dried basil (or 3. T. finely chopped fresh)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 28-oz can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
- 12 uncooked whole-wheat (or regular) lasagna noodles
- 12-oz vegan italian sausage links, cut into thin rounds, or soy sausage crumbles, broken apart
- 1 c. shredded vegan mozzarella cheez (I actually didn't have this, so I made a quick white-sauce that I poured over the top)
Preheat oven to 375-F. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onions and garlic in oil 4 to 5 mins or until golden. Add spinach and cook 2-3 mins or until wilted. Transfer spinach/onion/garlic mixture to food processor. Add tofu, cream cheez, basil, and nutritional yeast. Puree until mixture is thick and smooth. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
Puree roasted red peppers in food processor until smooth. Set aside.
Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, and saute 5 mins or until golden. Add basil and garlic, and saute 1 min more. Stir in tomatoes and roasted red pepper-puree. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
Simmer 10 mins or until slightly thickened.
Spread 1/4 of sauce on bottom of 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Cover with 1/3 of noodles, then half of filling, and ladle on another 1/4 of sauce. Repeat layer of noodles and remaining filling. Spread sausage evenly over top, and top with 1/4 of sauce. Finish with a final layer of noodles and remaining sauce. Sprinkle with shredded cheez.
Cover lasagna with foil, and bake 30 mins or until bubbling hot.
Uncover, and bake 15-20 mins more, or until noodles are tender (which in my case was about 60 more mins with the temp bumped up to 425-F) and topping is melted.
Remove from oven and let stand 10 mins before serving.
(Recipe from February 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times)