I have always been a glutton for Italian food…I grew up having it at least once a week at home (my dad is Italian). We always got to choose our birthday dinner, and without fail, I always picked ravioli. I looked forward to holidays because my grandma would make baked macaroni (different than baked ziti) and lasagnas that would blow your mind! I was worried that I would lose the ability to have all of my favorite things when I became plant-based, but that was the furthest thing from the truth! In fact, I didn’t make my first lasagna until after I became vegan!
I found a great lasagna recipe that I really like and have tweaked to make it mine, but I decided to try something a bit different this time around. Who doesn’t like to play with their food? Instead of making a whole pan of lasagna and having it sit in the fridge, I wanted to try making roll-ups. They are much more portable (perfect to pack for lunches), take up less space in the fridge and you can make as many or as few as you want. Really, there isn’t much difference in the ingredients, though I did choose to leave the mozzarella cheese out…but you can easily add it in if that’s your taste.
You can mix up your tofu ricotta while the noodles cook, whip up a quick sauce, then layer, roll, and bake! The trick is to make sure that the rolls sit snuggly in the baking pan so that they do not fall apart.
I didn’t add any extra veggies, but you definitely could – I was just craving that simple lasagna taste, without all the fuss and muss. Here’s exactly what I did:
- 6-8 whole wheat lasagna noodles
- 1 package of firm or extra firm organic tofu, pressed
- 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups of baby spinach, rinsed
- ½ white onion, diced
- The juice from 1 lemon
- 2 cups of fresh basil, cut into ribbons
- 1 cup of nutritional yeast
- Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
- Oil to saute (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Boil a large pot of water, and cook lasagna noodles according to directions on the package
- While lasagna noodles are cooking, prepare tofu ricotta: mix together crumbled tofu, 1 minced garlic clove, lemon juice, ½ cup of chopped basil, and nutritional yeast. I like to use a potato masher to really break up the tofu, but a fork will work as well. Once mixed, season with salt and pepper to taste, then set aside in the fridge.
- Prepare sauce: heat oil (for oil free, use veggie stock or water to saute) in a pan over medium heat. When it is hot enough, saute diced onion and remaining garlic. Once the onions are translucent, add crushed tomatoes and simmer, seasoning to taste.
- Once sauce is ready, put a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a 9x9 baking pan
- When the noodles have cooked, drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process and to make them easier to work with. Lay them out on a flat surface (countertop or cutting board)
- In very thin layers, add sauce, ricotta, and spinach to each noodle.
- Roll noodles from one end to the other, as tightly as you can without breaking them and place them into the baking pan side by side.
- Pour remaining sauce on top of rolled noodles and cover pan with foil. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until rolls are heated through.
- Garnish with remaining basil and red pepper flakes (if desired)
These rolls came out looking and tasting fantastic – definitely a great dish to share, or to devour by yourself. Guess which one I did? 😉