By Christina Lalor
Yes, you heard that correctly! It has happened- a vegan dish that even your meat-eating friends will love. I’m sure if they are reading this, they are rolling their eyes, thinking “no way Christina,” nothing compares to a truly cheesy, meaty lasagna. Well, don’t knock it off your list until you try a bite of this deliciousness, you won’t be disappointed. I know I wasn’t.
For some context, no I am not vegan, but I value the importance of reducing my meat intake and trying dishes outside of my comfort zone. One’s diet - whether vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian or a meat-eater, is all on a spectrum. You should base your diet on what gives you the nutrients and subsistence you need, what environmental impact this diet may have, and of course, the health benefits for you. Not every diet is right for every person, play around and find out what makes you feel like your best self and is sustainable! Sustainable eating is one of the most important aspects of eating for me- meaning I am being consistent, getting the nutrients and food value I need, keeping within my budget, and having something that works with my busy schedule.
Cooking can get boring when you are doing the same dish every time- I don’t know how many times I’ve made lasagna, but I can tell you I have never made a vegan lasagna until today! Don’t let all the healthy ingredients -red lentils, tofu, cashews, spinach and whole grain noodles - make you think this dish won’t be BOMB, because it absolutely is. With all these incredible ingredients, come incredible benefits! This dish is
Now this specific recipe has two parts- the lasagna and the vegan mozzarella cheese! Both recipes and ingredient lists are provided if you keep scrolling down! You can use the vegan mozzarella cheese for grilled cheeses or pizza, but I think it is absolutely perfect on this lasagna - I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Benefits of Ingredients
Now, for some honestly- I am not the world’s best cook. I need some easy recipes and when I try out vegan, gluten free or international dishes I am working with a lot of ingredients I may not be familiar with. I think we all know that struggle of going aisle by aisle trying to find an ingredient we have no idea what it even looks like. We now have the power of the internet to help us find what we need, tell us exactly what it is and what the benefits of it are. For this vegan recipe, I want to talk about some of the benefits of the specific ingredients- maybe you’ll be more inclined to eat them after hearing about how great they are for you, I know I was.
Red Lentils: These are the sweetest and nuttiest of the lentils (green, brown or red), only taking about 30 minutes to cook up. They have 18 grams of protein per cup cooked- that’s a whole lot of protein (a great sub for not having meat in your dish). Red lentils are easiest to mix in with soups or purees rather than green or brown lentils.
Cashews: Provide a variety of overall health benefits, cashews are rich in nutrients, linked to benefits like weight loss and help control blood sugar. They are rich in unsaturated fats, low in sugar, a great source of fiber and have almost equal amounts of protein as an equivalent quantity of cooked meat! Cashews also contain copper, a mineral impactful in energy production and one’s immune system!
Tofu: An amazing protein source, tofu contains all nine essential amino acids, is rich in iron and calcium and contains magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B1! Wooh- sounds like I need some more tofu in my life. Tofu comes from soya protein, known as a bean curd, prepared by coagulating soy milk and pressing the curds into solid white blocks that we recognize as tofu!
Nutritional yeast: A yeast type that helps bake bread and brew beer, nutritional yeast is grown specifically to be used as a food product. The yeast cells are deactivated during the process, leaving many B vitamins, trace minerals like zinc, selenium, molybdenum and manganese. This yeast is a fantastic source of protein as well with one tablespoon containing 2 whole grams of protein!
Tapioca Starch: This one I had never heard of before, it is made from crushed pulp of the cassava root. It works similar to cornstarch in that it thickens the dish. It works best when added at the end of cooking, whereas corn starch stands well in high heat.
1 cup dried red lentils
2 (25oz) jars of marinara sauce
1 cup raw cashews
16oz firm tofu (pat dry)
½ cup nutritional yeast
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp garlic powder
2 ½ cups baby spinach
1 box whole grain (or gluten free) lasagna noodles
Vegan Mozzarella Cheese
½ cup Raw Cashews
1 ⅓ cups water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ tsp salt
4 tbsp tapioca starch
While your lasagna is in the oven for 40 minutes, it’s time to get to work on that vegan mozzarella cheese- this is the cherry on top for this dish. This stretchy vegan cheese is made with just 5 ingredients!