If you’re ever looking for a dish that pretty much anyone can agree on, lasagna is a good call. Layers of pasta mixed with a hearty tomato sauce and a thick topping of béchamel sauce – I mean, who wouldn’t like that? There are many varieties of vegan lasagna out there, ranging from the classic with tofu or TVP chunks and no added veggies to lasagnas with grilled zucchini, eggplant, or bell pepper.
I like mine with tofu and spinach – and make that fresh spinach, please! I used to make lasagna with frozen spinach, as the somewhat straining process of washing and cutting spinach isn’t necessary then. I mean, it can be a bit of a pain to deal with a whole bagful of spinach, especially when it comes with thick stems that need to be removed one by one.
Let me tell you that it’s worth it, though. While I can reassure you that this recipe will still be plenty yum using frozen spinach, it just tastes better using fresh leaves. It’s a whole different thing. But of course, if you would like to omit that step, or have just frozen spinach in the house, feel free to use frozen variety anyway.
This lasagna is topped not with vegan cheese, but with a thick layer of creamy béchamel sauce. This white sauce is so good and is what makes this recipe really stand out. You could just use vegan cheese, but for me, this sauce is way better. Obviously, you could also have both and top the béchamel sauce with a bit of shredded vegan cheese. So if you’re into that, more power to you!
A note on the canned tomatoes used for the tomato sauce: I find that the variety you’re using makes a big difference. Sometimes, my tomato sauce would be rather on the runny, thin side (read: not maximum yum). I only recently realized that this must be due to the use of canned whole tomatoes (and their juices), instead of using canned diced tomatoes, which come with a somewhat thicker sauce (duh!, I know). So I strongly recommend using the latter.
Classic Spinach Lasagna
For the tomato sauce:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 big or 1 medium red onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons oregano, dried
- 1 teaspoon thyme, dried
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes and their juices
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 250 g tomato passata (sieved tomatoes)
- 1.5 teaspoons salt, pepper to taste
For the tofu-spinach mixture:
- 2 blocks tofu, natural
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or more as needed
- 500 g fresh spinach, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon rosemary, dried
- 1 teaspoon salt
- pepper to taste
For the béchamel sauce:
- 3 tablespoons vegan butter
- 1.5 tablespoons spelt or all-purpose flour
- 200 ml vegan cream
- 1 teaspoon salt
plus lasagna sheets as needed (I used about 8)
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 350° F. Lightly grease a casserole dish (this recipe will fit in any normal-sized dish, so no need for exact measurements).
- For the tofu-spinach mixture: Pre-heat a cast-iron skillet or other frying pan on medium heat. Add the olive oil and crumble the tofu into the skillet. Fry for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tofu is lightly browned.
- Meanwhile, wash and chop your spinach so it’s ready. When the tofu is browned, add the spinach in batches. I will look like way too much, but trust me on this – the spinach will shrink so quickly you won’t know what happened. Add pepper, rosemary, and salt. Stir on low heat until all the spinach leaves have wilted.
- For the sauce: Heat a small/medium sauce pan on low to medium heat. Add the olive oil and the diced onion. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, oregano, thyme, and tomato paste, and mix well. After about 30 seconds, add the red wine. Next, it’s go time for the tomato passata, diced tomatoes and their juices, vegetable broth, salt, and pepper.
- For the béchamel sauce: In another small pot, melt the vegan butter on medium/low heat. When it’s melted, mix in the flour. Let simmer for a minute or two, stirring often. Lastly, add the vegan cream and salt.
- Now we’re ready to assemble! Start with a thin layer of tomato sauce before adding lasagna sheets, careful they don’t overlap. Next, add some of the tofu and spinach mixture, then a little bit of béchamel sauce (not too much, or you won’t have enough for the topping), and tomato sauce again. Repeat until everything is in the casserole dish, ending with some sheets of lasagna, tomato sauce, and the rest of the béchamel sauce.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Enjoy!