Easy vegan pesto ricotta lasagna
Creamy pesto ricotta cheese made from white beans. Healthy, high in protein and delicious meat free lasagna.
Lasagna is one of my favorite childhood foods. On a frigid, dark Sunday night, I would come in from playing in the woods all day to the smell of lovely lasagna.
The fresh aroma of garlic, basil and hearty tomato sauce warms up the even the coldest of winter evenings.
My mother had a busy work week, so she made a lot of quick and easy recipes during the week, but on a Sunday she would have a little more time to spend on dinner.
She loved making lasagna on this day because we could have a comforting family dinner and it makes delicious leftovers for the busy week to come.
As comforting as it is, lasagna can be quite an unhealthy dish. This recipe keeps all of the comfort and heartiness of lasagna, but cuts down on the cholesterol and saturated fat all while packing a high protein punch! Now you can eat lasagna and feel good about it.
Instead of ground beef, we veganize the meat sauce with lentils. I love using lentils as a substitute for ground beef. You can use them in any instance you have ground beef.
Cook them up on the stove and flavor them like you would ground beef. Add in some garlic, caramelized onions, salt and pepper and you can’t go wrong.
One cup of cooked lentils provides ninety percent of your daily folate, thirty six percent of your daily protein and thirty seven percent of your daily iron. It’s also packed with copper, manganese, zinc and vitamin B1.
I was wrapping my head around how to make a dairy-free ricotta cheese. I saw quite a bit of recipes that use tofu. I didn’t have any tofu on hand, but I always have beans stocked in my pantry. I used cannellini beans to make a creamy, velvety ricotta cheese base substitute.
You could also use any sort of white bean like great northern beans or chickpeas. The beans lend themselves well to soaking up a lot of flavor.
I then made an easy pesto sauce and added it to the cannellini ricotta cheese. This makes the color an interesting, minty green but the taste insanely delicious.
One cup of cooked cannellini beans provides fifteen grams of protein and are rich in B vitamins (including B12), iron, potassium and zinc.
With the combination of lentils and cannellini beans, you have yourself quite a power punch of protein, essential minerals and fiber in this dish.
I didn’t include shredded cheese in this recipe, but if you would like to add that, the dairy-free brand that I love is “Follow your heart”. I love using their smoked gouda flavor and then just shredding it up by hand. If you’re ready for a healthy version of a comfort food classic, grab a baking dish and let’s get started!
This is great for a family dinner on the weekend when you have a little more time in the kitchen. This is also perfect for a small dinner party. You can easily whip up a salad and garlic bread and have a delicious feast for friends.
If you have any leftovers, this lasagna freezes perfectly. You can even double this recipe and freeze it before you cook it. Just take it out of the freezer on a busy week and pop it in the oven for an hour.
Easy Vegan Pesto Ricotta Lasagna
- 1.5 cups of dry lentils
- 16 lasagna noodles
- 1 jar of pasta sauce
- Handful of basil leaves
- 2 15 oz cans of cannellini beans – drained and rinsed
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp of salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Rinse dry lentils and place in a saucepan. Cover with three cups of water. Bring to a boil and let simmer until softened. About 20 minutes. Once lentils are cooked, add two jars of pasta sauce to the lentils.
- WHILE THE LENTILS ARE COOKING cook your noodles as well. Once cooked, drain and rinse with cool water. Drizzle with olive oil or keep noodles in cool water to prevent sticking.
- In a blender or food processor, combine basil, olive oil, salt, lemon, nutritional yeast and garlic. Mix until roughly blended.
- Add in rinsed and drained cannellini beans in with the pesto mixture and lightly blend until mixed. Add a little water or unsweetened plant milk to thin out as needed.
- In a 9×13 inch baking dish, lightly cover the bottom of the dish with lentil sauce.
- Layer in this order until dish is full: noodles, pesto ricotta, noodles, sauce
- Top with sauce and sprinkle with nutritional yeast
- Cover with tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes
- Uncover and cook for 20 minutes
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