Vegan Southwest Polenta Lasagna

Posted on April 13, 2011

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If you’ve been reading my blog you will have already seen my recipe for Southwest Polenta Lasagna.  I’ve made it twice now since coming up with the recipe and it was completely delicious both times.  One thing has been bothering me though- I haven’t gotten around to posting a vegan version.

I did a little checking around, polled some vegan friends, and flipped through my mental database of non-dairy cheeses- hopefully the results are to your liking.

First you’ll need the original recipe, you can find it here.

There are only two ingredients that need replacing, the ricotta and cheddar cheeses.  (The rest of the recipe is already free of animal products.)  Let’s tackle the cheddar first.  I suggest Daiya.  Daiya is a pre-shredded cheese substitute.  Normally I really don’t like this kind of thing.  I prefer whole foods, don’t like fake meats, and in general would rather go without than eat faux anything.  Still, I work at a Co-op and I make it my business to try as many products as possible so I can give better descriptions and recommendations to shoppers.  So when I went vegan this February it seemed like the perfect chance to try out something new.  Enter cheddar style Daiya.

Most fake cheeses have a weird texture, Daiya doesn’t.  Most don’t melt, Diaya does.  Most that melt don’t stretch, Diaya does.  Finally, if you eat dairy cheese on a regular basis most replacements just plain taste funny, Daiya doesn’t.  It also makes really good nachos.  If you would still prefer to make your own cheddar substitute from scratch, check out The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook.  Otherwise, use Daiya.

Next comes the ricotta.  I don’t have as much experience with ricotta replacers, so I asked around.  The recipe everyone seems to like is from The Veganomicon.  It’s simple, has very few ingredients, and was the first choice of every vegan I asked.  Here it is:

Veganomicon’s Tofu Ricotta:

  • 1 pound extra-firm tofu
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • handful of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Break up the tofu with your (clean) hands until it is thoroughly crumbled.   Now add everything but the olive oil and nutritional yeast.   Continue mixing and breaking up tofu with your hands until it starts to look like ricotta.   Add the oil and yeast and mix until well combined.  There you have it.

Just substitute these two uncheese ingredients, follow my original lasagna recipe, and you have a meal fit for vegan royalty!

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Posted in: Cooking, Recipes