Scrolling through my mental Rolodex of meals that are quick, easy, and just the right balance of healthy and comforting on a hectic day, lasagna is typically not at the top of that list. It’s high time we changed this.
Make Ahead Lasagna
Neatly contained in a spacious baking dish, lasagna is the ultimate pasta casserole that can be made in large quantities to be enjoyed many times over. One batch could feed a small family for days, or a single person for weeks, when stored correctly. Either unbaked or ready to serve, you can stash it in the fridge or freezer with no degradation of quality; a huge feat considering how many store-bought options turn out.
Never settle for mushy noodles swimming in watery, sweet sauce ever again! Gentle people, we can rebuild it. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world’s best plant-based lasagna. Better, easier, tastier.
Tips For Success
It’s not so much technique that determines the outcome of this recipe, but the ingredients themselves. No cooking experience necessary, anyone can pull off this culinary feat with the right components.
- The lure of no-boil noodles is tempting, but you must resist! Since they sit immersed in sauce for so long, they’ll have long passed the point of al dente and gone straight to mushy by the time you set the table.
- Quality marinara is crucial. It plays a huge role in flavoring the whole dish, so if there was ever a time to splurge on the good stuff, this is it. Normally I’d make the case for starting from scratch, but for a quick fix meal, it’s okay to take an assist.
- NEVER get anything less than the best tofu, AKA Hodo Organic Extra Firm Tofu. It’s rich, dense, and has a unique, subtly savory taste that allows it to transform into both meaty protein and creamy ricotta in a snap. While some may look at the pasta as the backbone of lasagna, it’s the filling that really lays down the foundation for flavor. Accept no substitutes for the best results.
Ideas for Adaptation
The beauty of a tried-and-true lasagna recipe is that it allows room for adaptation. Make it your own with any of your favorite herbs, spices, vegetables, and proteins without throwing off the delicate balance. Every batch can be a little bit different, and thus never boring, no matter how many times it’s on the dinner menu.
- Seasonings: Italian seasoning, featuring basil, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, and thyme are of course classic, but that’s not the only option here. Consider something a bit spicier, like Cajun or Creole seasoning, bright like lemon-pepper, complex like curry powder, aromatic like za’atar, and so on. The only limit is your imagination, and spice rack!
- Vegetables: Use fully cooked vegetables so they don’t water down the filling as they cook. That means sauteed mushrooms, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, grilled zucchini or eggplant, and more are all fair game. If you want to add greens, use frozen chopped spinach, kale, chard, or collard greens that have been thawed and very thoroughly drained; squeeze them really well to get all the liquid out.
- Proteins: You’re already getting a ton of protein from the Hodo tofu ricotta, but in case you’re craving something meatier, you can beef up the filling, with all sorts of plant-based proteins. Saute your favorite meatless grounds before adding them to the marinara sauce to transform it into a hearty bolognese. If you’re focusing on more whole foods, try the same trick with lentils; red, green, or brown are welcome here! Even chopped up chunks of seitan or vegan sausage can add a satisfying meaty bite into every forkful.
- Dietary Restrictions: Gluten-free? There are great gluten-free noodles on the market now, made from chickpeas, rice, corn, and/or lentils. Read labels carefully to find the best option for you.
Prep Once, Eat All Week
The creamy Hodo tofu-based ricotta, layered throughout strata of tender pasta sheets and robust red sauce, is fortified with cream cheese, thickening, stabilizing, and enriching it all at once. This simple trick ensures that you’ll have picture-perfect slices of lasagna every single time.
Best of all, it acts as insulation from ice crystals in the freezer, making it the ideal dish to make ahead, toss in the deep freeze, then heat and eat as needed. The tofu ricotta is so undeniably cheesy that it really doesn’t need the finishing flourish of vegan mozzarella on top… But then again, has there ever been such as thing as too much cheese?
Don’t answer that. Just pass the lasagna, please.