Grilled vegetable ricotta lasagna
I used to love vegetable lasagna when I was little. I remember the first time I had veggie lasagna instead of meat I thought it was amazing! I didn’t understand why we’d been wasting our time eating the meat version instead of eating this. But maybe that’s just me, even as a kid I thought veggies ruled. I also loved that classic combination of the cheese and rich tomato goodness baked until there’s crispy edges, all coming together to make something super delicious. It’s not such a regular now, but I have been wanting to experiment and create a delicious dairy free one, and this one turned out to be a big hit.
We used to make a cheesy béchamel sauce and a chunky ratatouille when I was little, which I loved, and I sometimes do the same now. I’ve made it a few times for clients with a cashew cheese sauce, but I wanted to try a slightly different take to my old time favourite. So I made a tofu ricotta, which I will say, is surprisingly similar to real ricotta, maybe more delicious.. Mem came home to eat leftovers.. Shocked I’d made it with cheese. But no, it was tofu! Unbelievable.
I made a vegetarian puttanesca, grilled courgette and aubergine and layered it all up. Finished with a layer of the tomato and dollops of the ricotta and some pesto.
This maybe sounds time consuming, but it’s really it’s not at all. While the tomato sauce is cooking you can whizz up the tofu and grill the vegetables. If you’re not great at thinly or evenly slicing vegetables maybe invest in a mandolin. They’re really handy for something like this. And for making wafer thin vegetables for salads and garnishes.
This recipe can be adaptable however, if you don’t fancy grilling and using many pans, you can easily dice the veg and add to the tomato sauce and it will still be delicious. The pesto can be optional also, I had some in the fridge and it makes a nice addition but it’ll still be great without.
For the lasagna I used brown rice pasta, but use whichever you like. Or if you wanted this as a lighter meal you could skip out on the pasta and that wouldn’t be weird at all.
Grilled vegetable, tofu ricotta lasagna
660g rustic passata or tinned tomato
1 onion, finely chopped
2 bay leaves, fresh preferably
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp capers
10 black olives
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
fresh oregano, picked & chopped
salt & pepper
280g firm tofu
1 clove garlic
juice & zest 1 lemon
100ml olive oil
For the pesto –
1-2 clove garlic
100g walnuts, roasted
juice half lemon
175ml olive oil
Blitz ingredients in a food processor or grind in pestle and mortar.
150g lasagna sheets of choice
Pre- heat over 190c. To make the sauce. Heat a large pan, add your oil and onions and bay leaves, sauté on a medium heat until softened but before they go brown about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, then the capers, olives and tomato, a pinch of sugar.
Turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Add your oregano and taste for seasoning.
Thinly slice the courgette and aubergine. Heat a grill pan and grill the vegetables until charred doing a single layer at a time. Season the slices and set aside.
For the tofu, add all the ingredients except the oil to a blender, drizzle in the olive oil and blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning, you don’t need the ricotta to be too salty as the rest of the dish is well seasoned.
Oil the bottom of a medium lasagna tray to stop the pasta sticking. Layer first lasagna sheets, then tomato sauce, aubergine and courgette, ricotta, then repeat until your sauce and veggies are used up. Finishing off your top layer with tomato and some dollops of the ricotta, I also added a few dollops of pesto as I had some in the fridge, it was delicious but not essential.
Bake for about 45 minutes until bubbling and browned on top.
Serve with a fresh mixed salad for ultimate satisfaction.