Sausages proved a slightly trickier vegan imitation meat to find; vegetarian options abound - Boca, LightLife - but contain eggs. Tofurkey, however, makes sausages that are certified vegan in several flavors, including Italian sausage and Kielbasa (Polish sausage). The original recipe actually called for a 10-ounce package of Boca's Italian sausage, but since it wasn't vegan, I went with Tofurkey. Tofurkey's sausages are sold by the 14-ounce package, however, so I only used 2 of the 4 sausages for this recipe and set the other 2 aside for later!
I also had to do some vegan substituting for cottage cheese and ricotta, which basically meant tofu, tofu, and more tofu. Make the 'cottage cheese' ahead of time by combining 12 ounces of lite firm tofu with 3 teaspoons lemon juice and 1/4 tsp. salt; mash with a fork until the mixture resembles cottage cheese and then chill - ideally about 5 hours, although I only had time to chill mine for 3.
Simply crumbling lite silken tofu does a nice job of imitation ricotta, but you won't need that until later...
Okay, so with all of those vegan necessities aside, here's the dish! This one feeds a crowd:
Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 2 cups chopped fennel and 1 and 1/2 cups chopped onion; saute for 5 minutes.
Add 4 and 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce (I used the pasta sauce from Amy's, which is certified vegan), 1/2 cup water, 2 chopped meatless Italian sausages (or approximately 10 ounces worth), and 1 (8-ounce) can of tomato sauce. The original recipe called for a no-salt-added tomato sauce, which unfortunately I couldn't find, so I figured my sodium levels could suffer for one night.
Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, combine your pre-made 'cottage cheese' in a blender with the equivalent of 2 eggs using egg replacer (such as Ener-G); process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1 cup crumbled lite silken tofu in place of ricotta, 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning and 2 minced garlic cloves.
The original recipe called for pre-cooked lasagna noodles, but I couldn't find an organic variety that was sold this way. So while the sauce simmered, I also cooked 9 lasagna noodles (8 ounces) according to package directions. Drain in a sieve and immediately rinse with cold water.
To assemble the lasagna: spread 1 and 1/2 cups of the sauce mixture on the bottom of a 13x9-inch baking dish. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles over the sauce. Top with 3/4 cup 'ricotta' mixture, 1 and 3/4 cups sauce mixture and 1/3 cup shredded vegan mozzarella (such as Galaxy Foods). Repeat the layers - 3 noodles, 3/4 cups 'ricotta', 1 and 3/4 cups sauce, 1/3 cup mozzarella.
Top with the final 3 noodles. Spread any remaining sauce mixture over the top - I had quite a lot left - probably over 2 cups worth! I hope this was intended. Oddly enough, I also had a lot of 'ricotta' mixture leftover, which almost made me feel I was supposed to have another layer in there somewhere, but I ended up just discarding the excess 'ricotta'.
Coat a piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray and cover the lasagna (I assumed coated-side down). Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.
Uncover and sprinkle with an additional 1/3 cup + 1/2 cup shredded vegan mozzarella. Continue baking, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
This makes enough to serve 8; each piece is 390 calories.
spaghetti sauce $15.98 (for 2 cans, though I had some excess!)
meatless Italian sausage $2.99
canned tomato sauce $1.09
lite firm tofu $2.69
lasagna noodles $2.99
vegan mozzarella $3.39
The Vegan Pantry
- Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy http://www.wholesoyco.com/
- Vegan milk - Silk http://www.silksoymilk.com/
- Vegan Feta - Sunergia http://www.sunergiasoyfoods.com/
- Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods http://www.galaxyfoods.com/
- Vegan Eggs - Ener-G http://www.ener-g.com/
- Vegan Butter - Earth Balance http://www.earthbalance.net/product.html