A spin on a very traditional (ie. old style) lasagna recipe by turning it vegan (by using Daiya “cheese”)! Up the health or nutritional factor by loading the recipe with vegetables like broccoli, eggplant, using whole wheat lasagna noodles for higher fiber, using lower sugar and lower sodium marinara. Note: This is a MEAT version, but vegan and vegetarian modifications are listed next to each option.
Whole Wheat Eggplant & Broccoli Lasagna
This recipe takes a long time, so if this is your first time trying it out, make sure you have a few hours to prep, cook and bake before eating. [We ended up eating this at like 11PM on a Thursday night, because I had no idea how long this all took.]
- 3-4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
- 1 medium yellow or sweet onion, chopped in large pieces
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 2 chopped celery stalks
- 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp seas salt
- 1/2 lb ground beef (Vegan or Vegetarian option: Boca and Morningstar offer good “Beef style” crumbles that contain no egg or animal by-products in them–I used Boca, 1 bag. I got it in the Whole Foods frozen foods section)
- 1/4 c white wine (I use Pinot Grigio for cooking)
- 3-4 c marinara sauce (alternatively, you can use 28 oz peeled tomatoes, but this just adds more time to the recipe)
- 1 c milk (Vegan/Vegetarian option: use Almond Milk instead of regular milk–stay away from soy milk if you want less stomach gas)
- 7 tbsp butter (Vegan option: Earth Balance Buttery Spread)
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 7 tbsp whole wheat flour
- 3 1/2 c heated milk (Vegan/Vegetarian option: Almond Milk)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
Additional Healthy ingredients
- 1/2 eggplant, cut into 2″ strips 1/8″ thick
- Broccoli florets, slightly chopped, so they create the smallest “flowers”
- Any other chunky vegetable you want
- Mozarella cheese and Parmesan cheese (Vegan Option: Daiya Mozzarella style cheese substitute–can be purchased from Whole Foods or other health food grocery stores–you may need 1.5 bags of this, FYI)
- Whole Wheat lasagna noodles (I used bionaturœ, sold at Whole Foods, but most stores should have a whole wheat variety of lasagna)
Sauté garlic, onion, carrot and celery in EVOO over medium heat. Add the beef (or crumbles) and salt until browned. If cooking real beef, break meat into bits.
Lower heat, add wine and let reduce, stirring beef occasionally.
Add marinara and simmer. Add milk and continue cooking for 10 or so minutes, then set aside. Sauce should be reasonably thick.
Melt the butter in a small sauce pan, slowly sift in flour, whisking over low heat for 2 minutes. Once flour is absorbed and you have a doughy roux, slowly stir in milk, whisking regularly while adjusting heat to allow sauce to bubble a bit. Add nutmeg and salt to taste.
Make sure to stir regularly… Bechamel should be thickened but still have a “saucy” consistency. Remove from heat and set aside, remembering to stir every once in awhile so it doesn’t thicken completely. (If this does happen, put in a few tbsp of water and whisk it again.)
Sauté the eggplant and broccoli florets together in EVOO over medium heat. Don’t let them sauté all the way through, you want the veggies to be slightly crispy when you put them into the lasagna. Set aside.
Preheat your oven to 375F/190.5C.
Cook 4 noodle sheets at a time (this is probably the most difficult part) in a LARGE POT of salted boiling water and a bit of EVOO. Only cook al denté, otherwise the noodles can break apart when you remove them from the water. (If anyone has a neat trick for removing them from the water without pieces of them breaking off, please share!)
Line the bottom of a 9″x13″ (or larger) baking dish with 3tbsp of the meat sauce. Just enough to coat the bottom of the dish so the noodles don’t stick.
Layer 4 sheets of pasta, then spread 1/3 of the Bechamel over the noodles. Cover with 1/4 of the meat sauce and a layer of eggplant and broccoli. Add 1/4 c of mozzarella and parmesan cheese (or Vegan Daiya).
Repeat for another 3 layers.
Cover the top layer with the remaining meat sauce and a generous dusting of mozzarella/parmesan mix (or Vegan Daiya).
Bake at 375F/190.5C for 40 minutes. Top cheese should be crispy and browned.
Let cool for 10 minutes (otherwise you will get a severely burned tongue and then you won’t be able to enjoy your delicious concoction for DAYS, boo hoo!) before eating.
This will serve 6-8 people.
(OR, in my case: 1 very hungry Vegan and 1 slightly hungry Vegetarian for 2 days. Wa hahaha!)
Total time: 2.5 hours (prep, cook & bake)
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE TIME FOR THIS RECIPE. There definitely are faster recipes out there for lasagna, but most of them will call for loads of parmesan, ricotta and more and more cheese, which significantly decreases the health factor. But if you’re all for cutting cooking time, saturated fat and cholesterol, by all means go for those recipes.
I will tell you, Daiya is a suitable cheese replacement for pasta dishes calling for loads of cheese and it’s a LOT healthier. I didn’t like it at first, but after trying it in my lasagna, I’m definitely a convert. This is coming from a staunch cheese fan. Cheese is the reason I cannot go Vegan completely.
*IF you try this recipe, please give me a shout! You can holler at me on Twitter (see sidebar), or you can plug this post!*
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