Our story begins with me wishing we could eat lasagne; I love it. We have had vegetarian versions for years, but we needed a vegan option and, to make matters just a bit more fiddly, it now had to be tomato free. My partner has discovered that tomato products give him heartburn, which is inconvenient and made me consider replacing the partner to avoid having to find new recipes. In the end I decided that replacing the recipes was the least work and the lasagne adventure began.
I considered all the elements that make up a lasagne; mince and tomato sauce (with vegetables added), a bechamel sauce of some description, lasagne pasta sheets and a hard (or semi hard) cheese for melting. I also considered the order these things need to be made in so as to have everything ready in the appropriate time frame.
First thing to make is the vegan mince substitute. There is a separate blog post explaining how to make this stuff here. I made up a large batch and put several meals worth of vegan mince in the freezer for future meals.
Then I made up a simple vegan lasagne sheet batch using this recipe. The pasta needs to sit and chill in the fridge for a little while before being used, so it made sense to make the batch early in the day and have it ready.
Instead of the bechamel sauce I decided to use the vegan ricotta cheese I already know how to make. I added just a touch more lemon juice to the recipe and a splash of soy milk to make the results more sauce-like. Of course I needed to make tofu for that; this time I used my emergency stash of carton soy milk to make it up.
The tomato-free part proved harder than I thought. I needed a red sauce that could be used on the mince to add that signature colour that stains all the plastic storage containers (otherwise it just isn’t lasagne). I went looking, and eventually found a recipe that I could live with. I didn’t take photos of the sauce, but it ended up as an orange goo, that tasted fairly good, but wasn’t tomato at all. It didn’t help matters that the tin of beetroot I was remembering being in the back of the cupboard proved to be a tin of pineapple. I think the beetroot is added to make the orange into a closer-to-tomato red.
I made a quick vegan mozzarella cheese that could be sliced up and ‘melted’ on the top of the lasagne and whipped that up. I have been making mozzarella using the Mad Millie recipe for a little while and it is reliable, if not really cheesy.
Making this lasagne took me most of the day, with two extra rounds of washing up. It tasted fairly good, but not good enough to justify that length of time in the kitchen. I will have some of the elements prepared in the freezer for next time though.
I do like the vegan mince recipe though. It is fast and makes up enough in one batch to make the mess worth it. I think we will be swapping over to this mince for at least some meals.