Saturday, December 18, 2010

Vegetarian 'Meaty' Lasagna Recipe

Lasagna has been our go-to holiday centerpiece since my sister and I went vegetarian sometime in the early 1990s. That was in the days before Tofurky and other vegetarian centerpiece options. At the time, we just did cheese lasagna. Over the years, we've tried different adaptations and, most recently, we've been doing the fake "beef" lasagnas. My sister started using an herbier recipe from Better Homes & Gardens and we recently tried it out for the holiday meal. It's pretty similar to our traditional recipe. The original is just missing some of the extra spices and the egg, which helps hold the pieces together a little more sturdily. The adapted recipe uses a 'deep-dish' lasagna pan, since the veggie meat comes in 1 pound packages and our family loves leftover lasagna.

Vegetarian "Meaty" Lasagna
1 package Yves 'ground round' (usually found in a refrigerated case in the produce department) or 1 bag Quorn "ground beef" crumbles (this is a soy-free micoprotein option)
1 C chopped onion (1 large)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz. can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning mix, crushed
1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1 tsp. fennel seed, crushed (optional)
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 pound (1/2 box) or 9 dried lasagna noodles
1 beaten egg
2 C ricotta or whole milk cottage cheese (I used ricotta because I had it already)
1/4 C grated parmesan, Romano, or asiago cheese
3 Tbsp. snipped fresh basil (frozen basil cubes from Trader Joe's or the squeezable tubes of basil are great time-savers here)
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
4 oz. shredded or sliced Swiss cheese

For meat sauce, in a medium saucepan cook onion over high heat until caramelized. (Onions should be well-browned at the edges and translucent.) Add garlic and "ground round".

Stir in undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, italian seasoning, oregano, fennel seed, and pepper. Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender but still firm. Drain noodles; rinse with cold water. Drain well.

For filling, combine the egg, cottage cheese, the 1/4 c Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheese, and the basil.
Layer 1/3 of the cooked noodles in a deep 13x9 baking dish. Spread with half of the filling. Top with half of the meat sauce and 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers. Top with the last 3 noodles, 1/3 or the mozzarella cheese, and swiss cheese. If desired, sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese on top.

Bake 375° oven for 30-35 minutes or until heated through. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Makes 12 servings.

adapted from Lasagna recipe, Better Homes and Gardens All-Time Favorites (1999)

original recipe:
3/4 # ground beef, ground pork, bulk pork sausage, or bulk italian sausage
1 c chopped onion (1 large)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 7 1/2 oz can tomatoes, cut up
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 6 oz can tomato paste
2 t dried basil, crushed
1 t dried oregano, crushed
1 t fennel seed, crushed (optional)
1/4 t pepper
6 dried lasagna noodles
1 beaten egg
1 15 oz container ricotta cheese or 2 cups cream-style cottage cheese, drained
1/4 c grated parmesan or romano cheese
3 T snipped fresh parsley (optional)
6 oz sliced or shredded mozzarella cheese
grated parmesan cheese (optional)

The Result.
Drool. That's it. But really, this one consistently fools my meat-eating uncle and father. And even when they do remember that I wouldn't be eating it if it were made with ground beef, they love it. It is delicious. Nice and spicy (not hot, just herby) and so deliciously cheesy. I'm not sure this one is possible with vegan cheez, but it's worth a shot for sure. I also surely cheated the amounts of the cheese. I think I ended up using double the Swiss and about 2 extra cups of mozzarella. This is another great starter recipe for those who are trying to go vegetarian or feed a family of mixed meat and veggie-eaters. So tasty. And, it freezes really well. Just slice it into serving-size squares and flash freeze on a cookie sheet before throwing it into a Ziploc bag.

This post is linked at Menu Inspiration MondayReal Food Wednesday, Cooking ThursdayLet's Do LunchLife as Mom and Prairie Storie's Recipe Swap Thursdays and Friday Favorites.

PS: Don't forget to enter a comment here for a chance to win a $25 gift card. Restaurants all over the country take these cards. You can look up your zip code for a list of those that participate in your area.


  1. Does that look good! I have been making lasagna with vegetable and cheese for years. Sometimes, just the noodles, sauce and cheese and sometimes with spinach or zucchini or whatever I have in the house. None of mine look as good as yours.

  2. Thanks. The egg helps it hold together and the massive amount of browned cheese make it look pretty and taste delicious. ;-)

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