Making changes to your diet can be hard. You start out all enthused: you can do this! It’s easy! You got it! But then you start running out of ideas for what to make for dinner. Or you get stressed out and fall back on your old favorite comfort foods. (Been there, done that.) Having a variety of go-to recipes that are delicious and practical is the key to success.
That’s the idea Rita Serano’s new cookbook Vegan For Good. The recipes here are things you can make in advance and eat later (this lasagna, for example!), things you can whip up for a weeknight meal, and weekend recipes for when you’ve got a bit more time. If you think eating a plant-based diet is time-consuming, this is the cookbook you need in your kitchen.
This Lasagna with Lentil Ragu and Cauliflower Bechamel is in the Weekend section of the book, but make it on a leisurely Sunday afternoon and enjoy it for dinner later in the week. (Although I haven’t tried doing it myself, I suspect this recipe would freeze well too.) The savory vegetables and lentils layered with creamy cauliflower sauce will make you forget all about the meat and cheese in traditional lasagna.
Purchase Vegan For Good: Deliciously Simple Plant-Based Recipes for Every Day by Rita Serano on Amazon
Lasagna with Lentil Ragu and Cauliflower Bechamel
Photo and recipe reprinted with permission from Vegan For Good by Rita Serano; Kyle Books.
- 9 ounces dried lasagna noodles of your choice spelt, whole-grain, gluten-free, etc.
For the lentil ragù:
- 2 carrots grated
- 1 onion finely diced
- 9 ounces mushrooms roughly chopped
- 1 zucchini grated
- 5 garlic cloves chopped
- ½ teaspoon ground chile or more to taste
- 3 cups tomato puree
- 1 tablespoon mushroom powder
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup optional
- 1 pound drained cooked lentils or from two 14-ounce cans
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 bunch of basil roughly chopped
- 1 ¼ cups vegetable stock or water plus more for cooking
For the béchamel:
- 14 ounces cauliflower florets
- 1 ¾ cups cashews soaked and drained
- ¾ cup vegetable stock or hot water
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Make the ragù. Heat a large nonstick skillet and add the carrots, onion, mushrooms, and zucchini. Water-fry them with 2 tablespoons of stock or water until the vegetables are soft and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Then stir in the garlic and chile and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the tomato puree, mushroom powder, maple syrup, lentils, oregano, basil, stock, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the béchamel. Bring a pan of water to a boil, add the cauliflower florets, and cook until they are soft and you can easily pierce one with a sharp knife. Drain the florets and transfer them to a blender. Add the cashews, stock, nutritional yeast, salt, and nutmeg. Blend until completely smooth. Set aside.
When the ragù is ready, assemble the lasagna. Spread a little ragù over the bottom of a large (mine is 8 x 12 inches), high-sided baking dish. Top with a layer of lasagna noodles, then a layer of ragù. Continue to layer the lasagna noodles and ragù until the baking dish is almost full and you have used up all the ragù. Top the lasagna with the béchamel and transfer the dish to the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 45 minutes, then remove from the oven. Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.