Plant-Based Lasagna + Book Review: The Friendly Vegan
I love lasagna, but I don’t make it that often because I prefer to avoid processed vegan cheese. Well, in this delicious plant-based lasagna from the Friendly Vegan Cookbook, there is NO vegan cheese! I am so thankful that my friends at BenBella Vegan Books sent me a copy of this cookbook to review. I’m so excited to tell you all about it AND share the plant-based lasagna recipe with you!
This post is in partnership with Benbella Books. It may also contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Photos by Zhoro Apostolov
At first glance of this cookbook, I was mesmerized by the gorgeous photos. Is it just me, or does everyone love looking through a cookbook and admiring the pictures? Anyway, photos aside, The Friendly Vegan Cookbook has over 100 tasty recipes perfect for aspiring vegans, new vegans, and seasoned vegans alike. This book would be an excellent addition to your bookshelf (or an ideal gift for a friend or family member).
In just a couple of weeks of having the book, I made a list of 10 recipes I wanted to make. So far, I’ve whipped up two recipes, but let’s recap the full list, and then I will share my thoughts on the recipes I’ve tried. The recipes that made my top 10 list include: Chewy Peanut Butter Granola Bars, Jen’s Cinnamon Rolls, Lasagna, Fettucini Alfredo, Sushi, Quinoa Tots, Birthday Cake with tasty Buttercream Frosting, Fudge Pops, and Pink Lemonade. I’m not exactly sure how I narrowed my list to 10 because everything sounds delicious.
The book includes recipes for breakfasts, main dishes, soup, side dishes, desserts, and more. All the recipes are vegan, and from my review, they seem relatively easy to make. Even the multi-step lasagna that I made was very easy and prepped in under 30 minutes.
Let’s talk about lasagna. It was super easy to make and very delicious. I know this recipe would be a hit with friends and family because it had everything you’d want in a lasagna; layers of rich tomato sauce, noodles, and a creamy vegetable filling. It was perfection. I made it in this “fancy” lasagna pan that we received as a wedding present. It is one of the only fancy-style dishes we brought in the RV with us, and it hasn’t gotten much use. However, I will be making this lasagna, again and again, so suit up lasagna pan.
- 12 lasagna noodles (standard size, enough for 3 layers)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ large yellow onion, diced
- 1 small zucchini, diced
- 1 cup sliced button mushrooms
- 4 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 6 ounces fresh spinach
- 2 (16-ounce) blocks super-firm tofu, patted dry and cut into chunks for easy blending
- ¼ cup unsweetened, plain soy milk
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dried basil or 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil leaves
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 5 cups marinara sauce (store-bought or from the recipe on page 228), divided
- Fresh basil leaves, for garnish (optional)
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the lasagna noodles according to the directions on the package. Drain the noodles, rinse with cold water to cool, and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, zucchini, mushrooms, and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened. Turn off the heat. Stir in the spinach, cover the skillet, and set aside to allow the spinach to wilt.
- Place the tofu, soy milk, lemon juice, basil, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may need to push everything down with a spoon several times between pulses so all the tofu gets evenly crumbled. When you reach a crumbly ricotta-style consistency, spoon the mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the sautéed vegetables and spinach until evenly combined.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spread 1 cup of the marinara sauce evenly across the bottom of a 9 × 13-inch baking dish. Follow this with a layer of 4 overlapping lasagna noodles, then a layer of half of the tofu mixture. Repeat with another 1½ cups of the marinara, another layer of noodles, and the second half of the tofu mixture. End with another 1½ cups of the marinara and a final layer of noodles, and spread the remaining 1 cup of marinara sauce on top, being sure to coat all the noodles.
- Bake for 45 minutes. Garnish with the basil leaves (if using).
This recipe is reprinted with permission from The Friendly Vegan Cookbook.
Meal Prepping Tip: You can prepare this lasagna in advance and keep it in the refrigerator (or freezer!) until you’re ready to bake it. If the lasagna is frozen, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before baking. If you bake it from a refrigerated state, increase the bake time to 1 hour or until heated all the way through.
I only slightly modified the lasagna recipe to omit the oil in step 2 and sauteed it with a splash of water in a non-stick skillet, making it the perfect plant-based lasagna! Everything else in this recipe was delish. I used the recommended 12 lasagna noodles, and I selected the ones you boil first; I have found over the years that I prefer a lasagna with that type of noodle.
Chewy Peanut Butter Granola Bars
Okay, full disclosure, I’ve made these twice in two weeks. Don’t judge; they are THAT good. They start with a base of oats, peanut butter, dates, and a few other ingredients, and then they are topped with a thin layer of … CHOCOLATE! They are seriously one of my favorite new snacks. Now the recipe notes say to use extra gooey and soft dates, and of course, neither time I made them were my dates extra gooey, so I’ll have to make them again 😉 hehehe! I also replaced the oil in this recipe with a little extra peanut butter, and it worked, so I think that is a great way to make these a little more whole food, plant-based.
First I want to start by sharing my overall thoughts on The Friendly Vegan Cookbook. I think the book is a perfect collection of vegan recipes. The variety of recipes is sure to help new or aspiring vegans transition to a vegan lifestyle or eat more vegan meals, and seasoned vegans would welcome the creativity to their kitchen. The recipes are well laid out, and easy to read, follow, and understand. With almost 20 staple recipes, this book would make a vegan lifestyle so much easier to achieve. Overall I think the cookbook is excellent, and I’d highly recommend it for any new or seasoned vegans looking to add some variety to their meals.
With that said, I do need to mention that while I think the book is excellent, I would not recommend it to someone looking to follow a strict whole-food, plant-based diet. Many recipes contain oil, and as a seasoned oil-free vegan, I’m struggling to find a substitute for the oil in the recipes. Please understand, I am not providing this comment as a negative toward the cookbook or the authors. The Friendly Vegan is a VEGAN cookbook, and for that reason, I have no problem recommending it to vegans or aspiring vegans because I believe it would be a go-to cookbook for them.
I’d love to hear from you! Do you have this cookbook? What recipe is your favorite? Also, if you make this lasagna, I’d love to hear what you think. Tag me @veginspired on Instagram. If you love recipes like this, check out our One-Pot Beans and Greens and our Homemade Tomato Sauce Recipes!