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Growing up, Christmas with my family has always consisted of lots of Italian food, specifically lasagna. My grandmother always actually made hers without meat (which I loved because even though I was omni I preferred it that way). She called it “lazy lasagna.” As I got older, inevitably things changed. My grandparents passed away, and we stopped having Christmas at their house. The family sort of broke off and went their own ways for the holiday. At this point, I was with my now fiance, and we started going to see my mom’s side of the family. Alas, they are not Italian, so that tradition of the food I grew up loving on Christmas pretty much stopped there. (Though I have made some pretty badass vegan pierogi for that side of the fam—being that they are Polish—and that is another huge holiday favorite of mine.)
But it just doesn’t feel quite like Christmas to me without the food I grew up on, so I figured I would take matters into my own hands. Plus, while seeing family for a holiday is great, I have very few relatives that accommodate Ed and I. Usually, we end up eating the few veggies dishes (if any) that are available, bread, and whatever other accidentally vegan food or snacks may be around. I am not bashing my family, and I don’t expect anyone to cater to me AT ALL, but the holidays are often a shadow of what I remember because so much has changed. So I usually will make and bring something for us—and for everyone else—to partake in. This year I decided on lasagna because of all the nostalgia clearly. So here is my version. Yes, it’s unhealthy and fattening and rich and indulgent…but I don’t eat it every day, and honestly sometimes I just dgaf. I hope you enjoy!
Beyond Meat Lasagna (Vegan)
- 3 shallots
- 2 cloves elephant garlic or ~6 cloves regular garlic (can't have too much garlic, am I right?!)
- 2 bags vegan cheese I used a blend of Daiya and Violife shredded mozzarella. *See notes.
- 2 packages Beyond Meat, Beyond Beef Plant-Based Ground Sub Impossible or other if desired.
- 2 jars sauce (I am shaming my Italian roots…sub homemade sauce if desired.)
- 4 tbsp vegan yogurt I used Silk plain almond milk.
- 1 package tofu Firm or extra firm will work.
- 2-3 tsp capers Or to taste…personally I say the more the merrier with these nuggets from God.
- 2 lemons juiced
- salt and pepper to taste
- Start by thawing the Beyond Meat Ground on the counter till it's room temperature and soft. Ideally, thaw in the fridge the night before, then the rest of the way on the counter before you are ready to cook.
- Press tofu for a half hour to hour ahead of time to remove water. If you do not have a tofu press you can place the tofu on a plate with a clean towel over it and something heavy on top (a cast iron pot/pan works well). *See notes.
- While meat is thawing and tofu is pressing, prepare vegan ricotta cheese by adding all ingredients to a food processor and blending until smooth. Don't over-process. It should be thick, but spreadable. If too thick, add additional lemon juice or yogurt (or water or plant-based milk alternatively).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cook noodles to package directions. For ready to bake noodles I recommend soaking in warm water for 10 minutes. This is what I did and they came out perfect. No weird chewy texture that you sometimes get with those kind.
- Chop shallots and mince garlic. Divide each into two roughly equal piles.
- Add 1 package of Beyond Meat Ground to a saucepan along with half of the shallots and garlic. Break up with a fork till you have the size pieces you want. (I recommend cooking only one package at a time as to not overcrowd. You'll be more likely to get the browning effect you are looking for. Cook for just a few minutes, you don't need to fully cook through.) Set your first batch aside and cook the next batch the same way.
- Add all your browned meat back to the pan and add your sauce, reserving a little plain sauce for the bottom of your lasagna tray. Mix everything together.
- Assemble the lasagna! Start with a layer of meatless sauce that you reserved, then a layer of noodles, and a layer of meat sauce. Next add a few dollops of ricotta roughly spread out and sprinkle shredded cheese over the ricotta filling in any gaps.
- Another layer of sauce, noodles, sauce, ricotta and cheese, and so on. When you reach the top cover the last layer of noodles with with more sauce and also more cheese of you want. I personally love a thick layer of mozzarella on the top of my lasagna. *See notes.
- Cover tray with foil and bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Remove the aluminum foil and bake uncovered for another 10-15 min. If cheese is melted and the tray is bubbling, it's done. overstand for 10 minutes before cutting. Top with any leftover sauce if you wish and serve.
- There are certain brands of vegan cheese that I’d recommend here because they melt better than others. I used a blend of Daiya and Violife. This was in part to go easier on my wallet and I knew that both of these melt great. Violife is one of my all-time favorites in taste and melting ability. Another great option is Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free Mozzarella Shreds. All of these are 100% vegan, no casein or any of that crap to worry about. You can throw in some Miyoko’s Mozzarella if you want to get fancy, but personally, I find it a waste. It’ll get lost because there is so much rich goodness going on and that shit ain’t cheap. But you do you, no judgments here.
- Don’t have a tofu press and don’t feel like dealing with that shit? You can skip this step. The world will not end. Just be aware, the added water in your tofu will affect the consistency of your ricotta. You may want to add less lemon juice or yogurt.
- Ready to bake noodles absorb more sauce than regular noodles. This is why I recommend a layer of sauce, a layer of noodles, and another layer of sauce. You want to really coat the noodles fully for the proper texture. If you are using regular lasagna noodles that you boil, you can use less sauce.