What is The Vegan(ish) Experiment?

Our family (me, my husband D, and our four-year-old Molly) started 2009 with a mostly-vegan, macrobiotic-inspired diet (although I have to admit, the strict macro rules have pretty much gone out the window). I have seen a marked improvement in my chronic migraines, and I'm enjoying proving that we can make amazing, mouth-watering, memorable food without animal products. For a more in-depth intro, click here.

I stopped updating this blog quite awhile back, when life got in the way. I'm still keeping a mostly vegan kitchen, though, and loving it. Have fun browsing my recipes!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Day 41: Vegan Lasagna

I tried making vegan lasagna for the first time. BOY, was it a lot of work. (Although as D, who was helping with all the cooking, said, "You know, it takes less time if you just get the sauce from a jar instead of doing it from scratch...")

The sauce was only mostly from scratch, though. I took a shortcut with canned, previously-seasoned tomatoes. D was worried he wouldn't like it, because it wasn't very tomato-heavy and he likes really tomato-ey sauces with his lasagna. There were several other ingredients that muted the tomato flavor. However, he loved it, probably more than I did. (I think I may have preferred a more traditional tomato-flavored sauce ... go figure! I absolutely loved the flavors of the sauce I made, and I'll make it again.... but for a comfort food like lasagna, I think I may need a more basic marinara.)

Like every lasagna I've ever seen, it's not incredibly pretty. (The next day when we had leftovers, it had had time to set up a bit and the different layers stayed more intact.) But it is as moist as it looks in the pictures, and the tofu ricotta, although it didn't really taste like cheese, had a nice familiar texture and an excellent subtle flavor.

Vegan Lasagna

The beautiful side dish is mustard greens, green beans, and mushrooms, adapted from a recipe here.

If you choose to use this recipe, feel free to experiment with the sauce - whether it's adding something new to it, taking something away, or even just throwing in a store bought jar of the red stuff (watch out for sugar content!) - and reply here to tell me how it was. I'm interested to try different versions of the recipe.

Vegan Lasagna

Before Starting: Find someone who will help out with the lasagna, make the side dish from scratch, and do the dishes. Thanks, D!

First, The Sauce:

2 15-oz cans Italian stewed tomatoes in juice (you'll have to add basil, oregano, etc. if you don't have the Italian ones)
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 very small butternut squash (or 1/2 of a larger one), peeled, seeded, and roughly cut into chunks
2-3 T. oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 package tempeh, cut into very small chunks (don't use if you don't love the flavor of tempeh - you can really taste it in this sauce)
8 oz. sliced mushrooms

  1. Add tomatoes, pepper, and squash to a pot and heat over a medium-low flame.
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet. Cook the onion until it is starting to become transparent, and add the tempeh. Cook, stirring regularly, about 8-10 minutes until it is browned. Add the garlic 1 minute before the tempeh is done.
  3. Add the tempeh, garlic, and onion to the sauce. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer at least two hours (we did three hours), stirring occasionally. After an hour, add salt to taste. After an hour and a half, stir very well, using the spoon to mash up the butternut squash so that it dissolves into the sauce.
  4. Add mushrooms 10 minutes before taking off the flame.

Next, the Tofu-Spinach Ricotta:

2 T. sesame oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. tofu, drained and cubed (no need to press it)
2 T. tamari, or 3 T. soy sauce
1/2 t. dried basil
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
Salt, if needed

  1. In a large skillet (don't bother to wash the skillet you used for the tempeh - just reuse it), cook onion over a medium flame.
  2. When onion is just beginning to brown, add garlic. Cook 1 more minute.
  3. Add tofu, tamari, and basil. Stir-fry for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from flame. Add tofu mixture and spinach to a mixing bowl or food processor. Pulse with food processor or hand blender until a chunky texture is reached.
  5. Add salt to taste, if necessary (I use reduced-sodium tamari so I can control the salt content of my dishes, so I had to add a little. Using regular tamari or soy sauce may mean you don't have to add any.)

The assembly:

  1. Cook a box of whole-wheat lasagna noodles according to package instructions. I recommend starting this 30 minutes before the sauce is done, because boiling that much water takes awhile. If they finish cooking early, rinse with cold water so they don't stick.
  2. Preheat oven to 375.
  3. Layer the ingredients in a large, oiled casserole. I had a lot more sauce than ricotta, so I did it in this order: Sauce-Noodles-Ricotta-Sauce-Noodles-Ricotta-Sauce-Noodles-Sauce.
  4. Sprinkle nutritional yeast on top, if you want a little bit of a Parmesan cheese feel to the dish.
  5. Cook for 30 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting.
Coming up this week: recipes for White Bean & Caper Dip, Rosemary-Garlic Pita Chips, and Spicy Mustard Marinade!

Health update: 1 migraine (today) - a full 2 weeks after the last one. Got rid of it very easily with prescription meds, which are working better now that I'm not using them 5 times a week....


  1. Just a note to say how much I'm enjoying seeing all the recipes and pictures!

  2. Just like Mama Mia used to make!

  3. Deanna - Thanks for reading!

    D - Yes, Mama Mia the famous vegan Italian. She subsisted on bread, red wine, and vegan lasagna.


I love it when people come back and tell me how the recipes turned out - please consider doing so! Thanks!


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