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How To Make The Ultimate Vegan Lasagne

Lasagne is one of the oldest pasta shapes known to man and now also happens to be one of the most popular. Its origin can be traced all the way back to Ancient Greece, where it was made simply with layers of pasta and sauce. Over the centuries, it has evolved to become one of the greatest comfort foods ever made, with its thin sheets of firm, chewy pasta, rich ragu sauce, and bubbling, browned cheese. Lasagne is also the perfect dish to veganize because it can easily be made without animal products yet still taste exceptional, making it a good choice for vegans and non-vegans alike. There are various ways to cook lasagne depending on where you are in the world; for example, in Naples, they traditionally use mozzarella instead of ricotta cheese. The beauty of lasagne is you can make it however you like, which is why you should experiment with different ingredients and methods.

If you’re currently dreaming about the perfect plant-based lasagne, carry on reading to discover my top tips that will make your dreams come true! 

‘Meat’ Substitutes 

The wonderful thing about meat-free lasagne is that the mince cooks quicker, and you don’t have to be as wary about pesky food poisoning. When choosing a mince substitute, I value texture over anything else. Ideally, you want something with a firm bite, rather than something that will disappear in the ragu (although this is a personal choice). The initial taste of the product isn’t massively important because you can add all the flavour you need when cooking. Here are some good examples of plant-based mince: 

If meaty textures aren’t your thing, you can substitute mince for vegetables. When making a vegetable-based lasagne, you have three choices: make the vegetables chunky, slice them, or puree them. Mushrooms, courgettes, and carrots work well, but you can use whatever you like. You may even want to roast them with herbs beforehand to maximise flavour. 

Ragu

Ragu is a simple meat sauce that’s similar to bolognese. So if you know how to make a great bolognese, you’ll do just fine with this step! To increase the umami flavour, you can add soy sauce, marmite, or vegan Worcester sauce; these aren’t traditional ingredients, but they make the lasagne taste super rich and delicious. If you’re short for time, you can also buy pre-made lasagne sauce:

Pasta

Fresh pasta often contains eggs, which is why I would recommend buying dry pasta sheets. Or you can make them from scratch if you want to go the extra mile. It’s not as complicated as you might think, and it’s way worth the reward (you don’t even need a pasta maker). If you would rather make things easier for yourself, you can purchase pre-made lasagne sheets that don’t require boiling before baking. Be careful not to overcook the pasta as it should provide a solid structure for the dish and make sure they’re cooked because there’s nothing worse than a raw lasagne sheet!

Béchamel Sauce

The béchamel can be the most daunting part of cooking lasagne, but there’s nothing to worry about. The trick is to add the milk slowly and whisk as you go to get rid of any lumps. Make sure to use good quality butter (I recommend Naturli) and unsweetened milk (soya is usually the best, but you can experiment with other plant milk). You can take your béchamel sauce to the next level by adding grated, fresh nutmeg. And for those days where you need to take shortcuts, buy pre-made plant-based bechamel instead.

Cheese Substitutes

There are countless vegan cheese alternatives to discover and experiment with, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t find your favourite the first time around. For a cheese that melts well, check out Violife or Applewood. For a parmesan alternative, check out Kinda Co. or Follow Your Heart. For a ricotta alternative, check out I AM NUT OK.

Baking

The final step is baking, which gives lasagne that heavenly touch of crispiness, bubbly cheese, and deep flavour. Cover the baking dish with tin foil for the first half an hour or so to prevent it from drying out, and allow the flavours to melt together. You can take the tin foil off for the last 10-20 minutes to crisp up the top and get that vegan cheese bubbling! 

5 Aug 2021
Jenny Edwards

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