Nonna’s Best Vegetarian Lasagna Recipe
This vegetarian lasagna recipe makes the best lasagna I’ve ever had and is well worth the time and effort.
If you have never had lasagna before, it’s an amazing and hugely popular Italian meal made with delicious layers of meaty marinara and béchamel sauce (or ricotta cheese), mozzarella cheese, and thin sheets of pasta that are layered and baked until the cheese is golden brown and bubbling.
What Is This Vegetarian Lasagna Made of?
This vegetarian lasagna is made with a Bolognese sauce made from caramelized carrots, onions, celery, and garlic; browned vegan beef and spicy vegan sausage; and crushed tomatoes with marinara.
It uses a béchamel made from roux and milk, melted vegetarian parmesan and asiago cheeses, and seasonings of white pepper, thyme, and salt. The lasagna noodles can be either storebought boxed lasagna noodles or lasagna noodles made fresh from flour and eggs and pressed into thin sheets using a pasta machine.
What Can You Use Instead Of Meat For Lasagna?
For lasagna, the best replacement for meat is your favorite vegetarian meat substitute. To make the best vegetarian lasagna, use Impossible or Beyond brand products. I like to use Impossible’s Beef and Beyond’s Hot Italian Sausage links, or Impossible’s Spicy Sausage. If you don’t have access to these products, Quorn meatless grounds or Gardein ground be’f also work quite well. For a healthier alternative, you can use sliced mushrooms or even cooked lentils.
What Can You Use Instead Of White Wine?
If you’d rather omit the white wine in any recipe, you can instead mix two tablespoons of water with two tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar and a tablespoon of sugar. Stir this until the sugar dissolves, then use it in place of the white wine. The white balsamic adds a complexity you’d expect from a white wine, while the water dilutes the flavor of the vinegar and the sugar sweetens it a bit. In terms of flavor, it’s crazy similar.
At A Minimum, You’ll Need:
- A 9″ x 13″ casserole or baking dish.
- A Saucepan, Frying Pan, or Cast-Iron Skillet.
- A Silicone Spatula or Wooden Spoon for stirring.
- A Whisk to make the roux and bechamel sauces.
Not Required, But Nice To Have:
- A Cheese Grater to grate the mozzarella cheese.
- A Garlic Press to easily and quickly mince fresh garlic.
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Making the Lasagna Sheets
If you’d like to make your own fresh pasta dough for this vegetarian lasagna recipe you can use my Fresh Pasta Dough Recipe. It’s made in a food processor in just a few minutes, but if you don’t have the time or a pasta machine, you can use store-bought lasagna noodles or fresh pasta sheets from the store.
There’s nothing more satisfying than eating a lasagna that uses noodles that you’ve made from scratch. To make fresh pasta sheets from scratch, lightly dust your fresh pasta dough with flour and start with the thickest setting on your pasta machine. Gradually work your way thinner to setting 4 or 5 if using the KitchenAid Pasta Sheet Roller Attachment, or setting 6 or 7 for the Mercado Atlas 150; running the pasta sheet through twice for each setting. Then, cut the lasagna noodles to fit a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish. You can boil the noodles for a short time if you like, but I recommend no more than 45-60 seconds. Boiling fresh lasagna sheets isn’t really necessary unless it’s your preference, because the noodles will cook while it’s baking.
If you’re using store-bought lasagna noodles for this vegetarian lasagna recipe, you can cook them per the instructions on the box or to your preference. For al dente lasagna noodles from the box, I recommend boiling them a minute less than the lowest boil time that it says on the box. The noodles will finish cooking while it bakes in the oven.
Making the Bolognese
- To start the bolognese sauce for this vegetarian lasagna recipe, heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over high heat, and cook the mirepoix (onions, carrots, and celery) until soft.
- Add in the garlic and cook until it’s no longer raw.
- Add a teaspoon of Better Than Bouillon’s “No Beef Base” or other vegetarian beef bouillon and a quarter cup of white wine, stirring until the liquid reduces down and evaporates.
- Add the vegan Impossible Sausage and Beef and a teaspoon of Hot Italian Sausage Seasoning or Italian Herb Seasoning, cooking until the vegan meat is no longer pink.
- Add your tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes. Stir until these are mixed in, then cover the pan with a lid and simmer for ten minutes on low heat.
- Next, add three tablespoons of tomato paste. Then cover the pan and simmer for another five minutes.
- Normally a Bolognese sauce has cream added; the creaminess for this recipe will come from the bechamel sauce we spread on top of the Bolognese as we layer the vegetarian lasagna.
Making the Béchamel
Bechamel is one of the five famous mother sauces in classical cuisine and is a creamy white sauce used as a base for many cheese sauces. To make a bechamel for this vegetarian lasagna recipe, you start with a roux. A roux is a mixture of equal amounts of butter and flour, cooked on a stove until the flour is no longer raw.
To make the roux for this vegetarian lasagna recipe, add five tablespoons of butter to a pan over medium heat and melt, then add five tablespoons of all-purpose flour and cook, whisking or stirring with a rubber spatula, until no longer raw and lightly golden brown.
Gradually whisk in 3 1/2 cups of milk and bring to a simmer, then add a half cup of shredded asiago cheese and a half cup of grated parmesan cheese. Continue to whisk until the cheese is melted into the sauce.
Then, add 1/8 tsp white pepper and 1 tsp salt, and stir until thoroughly mixed in. This bechamel sauce will meld together with the shredded mozzarella cheese we put on top and add a creaminess to the Bolognese sauce.
How To Layer This Vegetarian Lasagna Recipe:
- Start with a cup of Bolognese sauce and spread it to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Add a layer of noodles.
- Add 1/3 of the remaining Bolognese sauce followed by 1/3 of the white bechamel sauce, followed by 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Repeat Step 2 and Step 3 two more times.
Making Nonna’s Best Vegetarian Lasagna Recipe
Nonna’s Best Vegetarian Lasagna Recipe
- 9-12 cooked lasagna noodles from a box or roughly 450 grams of Fresh Pasta Dough from 3-4 eggs, rolled into thin pasta sheets
- 1 lb mozzarella cheese, shredded
For the Bechamel
- 5 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 5 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 3 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup parmesan, shredded
- 1/2 cup asiago, shredded
- 1/8 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
For the Bolognese
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large carrot, grated
- 1 celery stalk, diced small
- 1 onion, diced small
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon “No Beef Base” or similar
- 12 oz pkg plant-based beef
- 14 oz pkg plant-based sausage, hot Italian or spicy
- 1 tsp Spicy Italian Sausage Seasoning or 1 tsp Italian Seasoning.
- 24 oz jar of your favorite marinara sauce
- 15 oz can of crushed tomatoes.
- 3 Tbsp tomato paste
Instructions for the Noodles
If using boxed lasagna noodles, cook them for a minute less than the lowest time for al dente on the box; or to your preference; drain, lay flat on a non-stick surface, and set aside.
Instructions for the Bechamel (White Sauce)
Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat and add the flour. Whisk the flour and the butter together until the mixture begins to turn golden and the flour is no longer raw.
Gradually pour in the milk while whisking.
When the mixture comes back up to temperature and begins to simmer and thicken, add the parmesan, asiago, white pepper, and salt and whisk to melt them into the sauce. Set aside.
Making the Bolognese (Red Sauce)
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add in the chopped carrot, celery, and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 10 minutes.
Add your garlic and cook, stirring continuously, until the garlic is no longer raw; about a minute.
Pour in the Better Than Bouillon and white wine, stirring until reduced; about a minute.
Add in the Impossible Beef and Sausage as well as the seasoning and cook, breaking the meat up with a spoon and stirring, until the meat is no longer pink.
Add the marinara and crushed tomatoes, then stir to combine. Simmer, covered with a lid, on medium-low for 10 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and break it up, mixing it in. Simmer, covered, for an additional 5 minutes. Set aside.
Instructions to Assemble the Lasagna
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Use about a cup of the Bolognese (red sauce) on the bottom of the 9″ x 13″ baking dish and spread it around to evenly coat the bottom.
Add a layer of three to four lasagna noodles or a layer of fresh pasta sheets. Add 1/3 of the remaining Bolognese and spread it over the noodles. Add 1/3 of the Bechamel, carefully spreading it over the Bolognese. Add 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese, evenly distributing it over the bechamel. Repeat this step two more times.
Bake the lasagna for at least 25 minutes or until the cheese begins to caramelize and the sauce is bubbling. Enjoy!
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