As a vegan, I am about to say something that I would have never expected to say. Ever. You see, this recipe was one that I adapted from Giada De Laurentis, aka the pork and cheese loving force behind the show (and all of the accompanying cookbooks) Everyday Italian. I promise you – I am not kidding!
The other day I had the food network on TV as I was doing some around-the-house tasks. I believe the show that was on was Extreme Cakes (seriously, people- these were some pretty extreme cakes! There were firecrackers, pounds of fondant, and moving parts…) when I left the room … and when I came back, there was Giada, throwing around pancetta, mozarella, parmesean, and ricotta like these are the staples of any healthy, well balanced meal. Believe it or not, as I watched this one-woman-health-crisis go, I thought to myself, “Hmmmm….that dish has potential.” As I went about my day, I had the idea of this dish lodged firmly in the back of my head and eventually, to purge it, I had to make it. With a few adaptations, of course.
For this dish I used whole wheat lasagna noodles for the first time and I was pleased with their chewy texture. I overhauled the recipe to rid it of all animal products, and I subbed in soy cheese and a modified version of Isa Moskowitz’s Tofu Basil Ricotta from Vegan With A Vengeance. The modification that I made was to puree it in a food processor instead of mixing it up by hand. I did this to mimic the smoothness of the melted cheese in Giada’s dish rather than subbing in a crumblier stand-in (which I usually use in my traditional style lasagna). I also made a smaller batch of the lasagna than the original recipe called for because I was only making dinner for two (with leftovers for lunch the next day, of course!).
The beauty of this lasagna is that it is actually fairly easy to make and is ready in less than an hour, but it looks incredibly fancy and it tastes four star. Does it get any better than that?
Adapted from Everyday Italian
9 lasagna sheets, fresh or dried, trimmed to fit a 9×9-inch baking pan
1 tsp olive oil, plus 1 tbsp, divided
1 package of sundried tomatoes, rehydrated
1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup, plus ½ cup, grated Italian style soy cheese, divided
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
24 stems of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 batch of Tofu Basil Ricotta (recipe follows)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread
Tofu Basil Ricotta
From Vegan With A Vengeance
1 pound firm tofu, pressed
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 Handful fresh basil leaves, chopped fine
A dash of black pepper
Crumble the tofu into a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth.