Tofu Ricotta Lasagna
Updated: Jan 23, 2022
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour + 15 minutes
Yield: 9-12 servings
A lot of people ask me if I am vegan because I am a Dietitian. The answer is no...but I will say, I do have vegan *tendencies* and this recipe is at the top of the list. If you've gotten this far, I at least know you were able to see past "Tofu" in the headline, so just hang with me for a sec. If you are at least half considering trying tofu for the first time, this recipe is the one you want to use. I promise if I blind folded you and asked you to try this—without telling you it is actually tofu instead of ricotta cheese, you *may* not even notice the difference.
Let's first set the record straight and clear the air on what tofu actually is. But I'll start with what it is not. It is not cat food, cat litter, or ground up pieces of cat. It is also not some mystery white mosh-posh substance formed into a block (well, maybe a little). BUT tofu is simply just beans—soybeans to be exact. And soybeans are top-dog when it comes to sources of plant-based protein.
Cooking with tofu is a whole 'nother ball game though...and I am still working on perfecting it myself. But so far, what I have learned is that if you do it right it can be really freakin' good. This is because tofu has a very neutral flavor and acts as a sponge— it takes the flavor of whatever else it has been doused in or seasoned with.
Still with me? Okay...enough tofu-talk, let's get on with it.
2 packages of extra firm tofu, drained & pressed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 zucchini, chopped
1 package frozen spinach (fresh spinach works too)
12 Banza lasagna noodles (traditional or whole wheat noodles work as well)
2 jars of marinara sauce (see NUTRITION TIPS: for recommendations)
One 10 to 12 oz container of garlic hummus
1 to 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese (or whatever your heart desires) *also completely optional all together
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
Drain and press tofu to excrete all excess water from tofu block. It usually goes a little something like this: wrap tofu in several layers of paper towels and lay something heavy on top of it— a cast-iron skillet or a few large textbooks work great. Allow tofu to press for at least 20 minutes (remember, the goal here is to get as much water excreted as possible. So, the heavier the item on top plus the longer it sits— the better).
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add zucchini and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft. Add spinach and cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until thawed. Remove from heat and set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add lasagna noodles. Cook until slightly underdone or al dente. If using Banza noodles, these need around half the cooking time as traditional noodles (about 3-4 minutes). Drain and rinse all pasta varieties with cold water.
Crumble pressed tofu into large bowl with hands. Add hummus, spinach + zucchini, and all seasonings. Mix to combine.
Pour about 1 1/2 cups of marinara sauce to cover the bottle of a 9x13 inch pan.
Place 4 lasagna noodles overtop. Crumble about 1/3 of the tofu mixture on top of the lasagna noodles. Sprinkle cheese on top. Pour another 1 1/2 cups of marinara sauce overtop.
Repeat step 7 two more times in order to make 3 layers total. Sprinkle more cheese on top of the last layer.
Bake for 30 minutes. Cover with foil if top is getting too brown.
Try to contain your excitement and let cool for a good 10-15 minutes before diving in.
*The Banza lasagna noodle packaging states the noodles do not need to be cooked, but to me, personally, it felt wrong not cooking them. Do whatcha want. But know if you are in a hurry or just want to simplify this lasagna making process, you do not need to cook the noodles.
*This recipe is inherently gluten-free given the Banza noodles are made from chick-a-peas. But if you are needing a diary-free or vegan version, simply swap the cheese for nutritional yeast. No nutritional yeast? I think you may just find without it. The flavors from everything else are so powerful anyway.
There are always two things I have laser focus on when scanning the shelves for marinara sauce: the type of oil and presence of added sugar. When choosing a sauce, I am looking for one made with only olive oil (bonus points if it has no oil) because olive and avocado oils are our safest oils these days.
Next, I am skimming the nutrition facts label to see that double-edged sword of a number next to the added sugar category: "0", meaning no added sugars. We consume an insane amount of hidden added sugars in the products we eat on the daily and you can almost guarantee canned marinara sauce is going to be one of them if you're careful enough.
So far, in my few short years of parading down every Italian themed grocery aisle in my life, I have found 3 brands that meet the above standards (and also my budget): Ragu Simply: https://www.ragu.com/our-sauces/ragu-simply/, Whole Foods' 365 organic line: https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/product/365-by-whole-foods-market-organic-pasta-sauce-marinara-25-oz-b074h4ws24, and good ole Aldi's Simply Nature Organic line (this one contains no oil at all): https://www.aldi.us/en/products/pantry-essentials/sauces-salsa/detail/ps/p/simply-nature-organic-marinara-pasta-sauce/. Usually I am opting for Aldi's sauce...because that's where you can find me anymore on Sunday's around, eh, 1pm trying to make the quickest grocery store run of my life while simultaneously telling myself I should have gotten here way, way earlier in the day.
One more thing, none of the products mentioned are sponsored in anyway, shape, or form. They are simply products that I personally use and love a little too much.