Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Vegan lasagne with spinach ricotta and cashew cream

It was a cold and wet night as I stepped out of my building.  Despite my umbrella, I got soaked walking to the tram stop where I stood freezing during a long wait.  Finally the tram came and a rush of cold wind came in the door every few seconds when the tram stopped to let more people off.  When I hopped off the tram and remembered our regular heater was decommissioned, I went to the chemist to buy more heat packs.  Good decision.  But even better was making a hearty lasagne to heat up when I got home.

The day before I had made the lasagne in parts.  During the day I made cashew cream sauce, tomato sauce and spinach ricotta.  In the evening after dinner I put together the layers of lasagne and baked it.  The result was really delicious.  However the tomato sauce could have been sweeter.  Which is my fault that I forgot to buy sweet potato and used mushrooms and carrots instead.  And I also didn't quite follow the instructions that said to only put the cashew sauce on top once the foil came off halfway through baking.  So my cashew cream stuck to the foil and looked a little less impressive.

This was a different lasagne to the one I am used to - far more cheesiness in the layers and less cheesiness on top.  I would definitely have it again though I missed that lovely thick layer of cheese sauce on lasagne sheets on top that I usually do.  But I do recommend making this lasagne when the heater is on the blink.  Nothing like a bit of pottering around in front of a preheating oven to warm you up.

A nice warm cuppa tea after dinner is also good to warm you up.  Except when the kettle keeps tripping the fuse because a dodgy old heater has been plugged in.  I just feel like buying an electric blanket and spending my life in a warm bed like the grandparents in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  But the electric blanker would probably fail me too.  And now the button on the microwave that opens the door is flying out at us every time we push it in.  Honestly this year it feels like my appliances are out to make my life miserable (And I'm looking at you, oven with the dodgy thermostat.)

We have had three plumber/gas people out to see the heater.  The first one did a smoke test and told us there air was coming out rather than going in so he decommissioned the heater.  The second said he couldn't turn it on if the first had decommissioned it.  The third actually had a meter and did quite a bit of testing, explaining about the "spillage" being due to the heater being too close to the fan over the oven but also having a problem even without the exhaust fan drawing the air out.  Now we have three other inadequate heaters crowding the lounge, none of which have the lovely warmth of our old gas column wall heater.  I am missing it dearly while we wait for a quote on a new heater.

This lasagna saw us through most of the week.  By the end I was a bit tired of it and used the ricotta in a sandwich.  I had more tomato sauce that I needed so I froze some and used it a while later with some crumbled nut roast on a baked potato which was delicious.  I think I would love to make both the cashew cream and spinach ricotta again for bakes and sandwiches.  And this is definitely a fine addition to my repertoire of vegan lasagne.

More vegan lasagne from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Fennel and lentil lasagne (v)
Nut roast lasagna (v)
Tempeh and pumpkin lasagne (v)  
Tofu-ricotta, zucchini and pumpkin lasagne (v)
Vegan lasagne with cauliflower, hummus and tofu "ricotta" (v)  

Vegan lasagne with spinach ricotta and cashew cream
Adapted from Pass the Plants
Serves 10 - 12

For the Lasagna

2 cups savory cashew cream, see below
4 cups tomato sauce, see below
2 cups Vegan Spinach Ricotta, see below
about 250g packet of no-boil lasagne sheets
1/2 cup water

Spread some tomato sauce in a 9 x 13 inch casserole or roasting dish.  (No greasing needed.)  Layer a third of the lasagne sheets, spread with half the spinach ricotta, a generous layer of tomato sauce and a third of the cashew cream.  Repeat layers of lasagne sheets, spinach ricotta, tomato sauce and cashew cream.  Top with last third of the lasagne sheets, more tomato sauce (I had some left over) and set aside remaining cashew cream.a drizzle of the last of the cashew cream.

Cover with foil.  Bake lasagne at 180 C (350 F) for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and drizzle with remaining cashew cream and bake another 20 minutes.  Leftovers last about a week or can be frozen.

Savory Cashew Cream

2 cups raw cashews*
1 cup water
1 tablespoon heaping nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon white miso
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Mix all ingredients in a high powered blender until creamy.  (If your blender is not high speed, soak cashews for at least 2 hours and drain.)

Tomato Sauce

1 teaspoon olive oil, optional
2 large carrots, finely chopped
6 button mushrooms, finely chopped2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp mustard powder
4 x 400g cans of basil and garlic crushed tomatoes
1 cup red lentils
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
1 1/2 cups stock

Fry carrots and mushrooms in olive oil for a few minutes until softened.  Stir in garlic and spices for about a minute.  Add remaining ingredients.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until lentils cooked.

Vegan Spinach Ricotta

1 cup raw cashews
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon light miso 
1 teaspoon salt
350g firm tofu, drained
2 cups frozen spinach
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (did not use)

Mix cashews, nutritional yeast flakes, garlic, miso and salt in a food processor until cashews chopped and incorporated with other ingredients.  Add tofu, spinach and basil (if using).  Blend until mostly mixed - a few chunks here and there are fine to add some texture.

NOTES: The tomato sauce was too big for my large saucepan and next time I will use my smaller stockpot.  I cooked the tomato sauce for 15 minutes but it was still quite watery - it worked in the lasagne but I have still removed a cup of water from the sauce which could be added if needed and next time might add seeded mustard or tomato paste.  I tried the spinach ricotta in the blender but it took ages and would have worked better in the food processor.  I put my cashew cream on before I covered the lasagne with foil and it stuck when I took the foil off.  Next time I will only put it on when foil removed.

On the Stereo:
O Vertigo: Kate Miller Heidke


  1. This sounds delicious, and lasagne would definitely hit the spot in this terrible weather we are having.

  2. Looks interesting! I love lasagna but make a regular one where I make my own Italian sausage. It's definitely a wise winter choice.


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