(Vegan) Lasagna Fit for Garfield

I am well aware that cats are obligate carnivores so don’t go posting comments calling me an animal abuser.  I’m taking creative license to prove my point. This lasagna is darn good.

When I put a call out for vegan lasagna recipes my dear French friend sent me a cheese laden recipe that did not involve meat. When i explained to her what vegan meant she just responded “without cheese?” I’m convinced even she would enjoy this recipe.

Sorry about lame Blackberry photo – couldn’t find real camera and was too hungry to conduct a proper search.

Before I go into the super easy recipe for this delish lasagna I want to address a reader comment questioning my ability to “flirt with vegan” when I’m not even a proper vegetarian (I’m a pescatarian).

Being vegan is something I aspire to. I’m flirting with it, I haven’t committed to getting married – we aren’t even going steady. For a long time I felt that because I wore leather (I make a conscious effort not to purchase new leather products) or ate cheese I was a failure at living a kind life.  But that’s like saying fostering doesn’t matter because I can’t save (or hug) every cat.  Baby steps. If I don’t tell myself baby steps are okay then I’ll feel too overwhelmed and I won’t change at all.

What are your thoughts? Am I being hypocritical because I still eat fish but write about vegan restaurants and recipes?  How do  you incorporate vegetarianism or vegan-ism into your life.  Is it a zero-sum game?

In the meantime, back to the business at hand.

I HAVE CAT’s vegan lasagna assembled and ready to go!

I HAVE CAT’s Vegan Lasagna Recipe

Prep time: 20 minutes; Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 package firm tofu (I buy organic because it makes me feel better)
  • Ready-to-cook lasagna noodles (Couldn’t find whole wheat unfortunately)
  • 1 package frozen spinach (Don’t buy chopped frozen spinach. Just trust me, it’s impossible to drain).
  • 1 package button mushrooms (any mushroom would be divine)
  • Vegan italian sausage crumbled: 1-3 links depending on how “meaty” you want it, I used Tofurky since that’s all my grocery had (I bet ground soy or mashed-up Trader Joe’s meat-less balls would work well too!)
  • Fresh basil (handful)
  • 2-4 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 can (24-26 oz) of pasta sauce (If I’m not making my favorite is Rao’s Eggplant Sicilian Sauce)
  • 1 cup Daiya vegan mozzarella cheese to sprinkle on top

Steps #1-3

1) Defrost spinach and squeeze out excess water. Add to bowl with tofu (squeeze out as much of the water as you can using a clean towel) and add chopped basil. Mush them together with your hands. Set to one side.

2) Wash and chop mushrooms, crumble/smash vegan sausage. Set aside. If you have an electric oven preheat now to 450 F.

3) Heat olive oil in a saucepan with crushed or finely sliced garlic. As garlic begins to turn a light brown, add mushrooms and “sausage” and sautee until mushrooms start to wilt. Add tomato sauce.

Always put a little sauce down before the noodles so they don’t stick.

 

Now just  start to layer. Noodles, tofu mixture, sauce mixture, noodles again and so on. I like to top it off with sauce and the Daiya cheese.

Cook covered with aluminum foil for 20-25 minutes at 450 F;  then uncovered for 5-1o minutes so “cheese” melts.  Let sit for 5 minutes then dig it! Makes wonderful leftovers if you freeze.

Do you have a vegan recipe you’d like to share with us? Post it in the comments section!

PS – Now I’m pondering why Jim Davis pick lasagna as Garfield’s favorite foods in the first place? I can’t find an answer, though I did learn he was not a fan of raisins or spinach. Shame really.

PPS – I saw a few vegan lasagna recipes that called for nutritional yeast. Any clue what that would be for? Somewhere I read it gives the tofu a “cheesy” flavor.

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  • The nutritional yeast makes it!! I use the recipe out of The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook by Joanne Stepaniak and its the BEST vegan mac n cheese Ive ever had!

    • ohhhhh good to know – what does it do exactly?!?!

  • What does  Tofu taste like?  I am prediabetic & have high cholesterol and it is supposed to be good for me but I am a bit scared of trying it.

    • Do not fear. It basically has no taste. As one of my readers posted so correctly, tofu is the “greatest pretender” it takes like what you put on it or in it. Many people just chop it up and throw it into stirfry but it’s pretty tasteless. If you mix other stuff into it or marinade it like you would chicken or beef it can be pretty tasty! Check it out and let us know what you think! Just so you know there are different firmness “levels” – soft, medium and firm. depends what you want to do with it – have it soft to mush up (will have more water in it), or if you want to stir fry it etc. 

  • debbie s

    sounds good, will try this or some variation (without the soy cheese 🙂 over fall/winter.  for vegan recipes, i like The Uncheese and Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook by Jo Stepaniak, tofu cookery by louise hagler, TVP cookbook by Dorothy R Bates,; vegetarian, not vegan: vegetarian cooking for everyone, by deborah madison, Laurel’s Kitchen, Moosewood Cookbook, and rose elliot’s vegetarian christmas (british).

    but i’ve been transitioning to raw vegan for several years http://www.rawschool.com.  favs are rainbow green live cuisine by gabriel cousins, the raw secrets by frederic patenaude, blatant raw foodist propaganda, raw in ten (beautiful, but i’d never have the patience) by brian au, raw soups salads, and smoothies, by frederic patenaude;  for raw/natural pets, there’s http://www.nomorevetbills.com .  (i haven’t done this but would like to…  dunno if i could handle mice & other “goodies in my fridge freezer lol).

    • Daiya isn’t soy cheese – it’s really good, you should look into it! I will have to check out the cookbooks you suggest! I’m not the biggest cook so it’s all new to me!
      In NYC there is a great raw vegan restaurant called PURE FOOD AND WINE. Spendy but delish for a treat!

  • Jackie Gage

    Sounds Yummy! Obviously you want no-egg noodles (lol). When I use frozen spinach I usually let it sit in a colander to drain a bit, then I press the water out. These days I eat mostly fresh, tho’. Now that so it’s easy to buy the packages of pre-washed stuff. It does take a TON! ROFL. Here in Ohio we can get sausages made by Field Roast (www.feildroast.com) they should be pretty generally available, they’re out of Seattle, WA., I buy them when they’re on sale and they last in the fridge a long time. Artisan Vegan. Caution! The Mexican Chipotle is RLY HOT!!! Muy Caliente – Which I LOVE. Hahaha ~ They also have Italian, and the Apple/Sage (which is to die for!).

    • Yes Jackie – good point about the no-egg noodles!I should have noted
      that! it DOES take a TON of fresh spinach and i guess takes a bit more
      time.

  • venana

    I am all for vegan and vegetarian, even though I myself am neither (yet), but I don’t think going cold turkey is something many can do. Also, plants are living beings as well, and moreover, it’s been proven that plants also have feelings (fear, just to name one), so eating plants and not eating meat based on “ethics” of it all seems hypocritical. Whoever wants to eat ethically, must become a frutarian.

    PS – I do admit to a slight level of hypocrisy involving my diet though, because if I was made to eat only what I hunt/grow/gather instead of the pre-killed and pre-packaged meat, I’d be a vegetarian for sure.

    • I’ve never found anything to show that plants have feelings. I agree they are living but in regards to feeling pain or having thoughts…not sure about that…

      Agree with you re: if I had to kill fish i’d def not eat it! 

    • I’ve never found anything to show that plants have feelings. I agree they are living but in regards to feeling pain or having thoughts…not sure about that…

      Agree with you re: if I had to kill fish i’d def not eat it! 

  • Goldie

    That looks great! The PM will have to try it. They try to eat Vegan once in awhile.

  •  I am also a pescatarian which I also admit contradicts my desire to live a kind life. If I had to catch the fish I eat I’m sure I would quickly become vegetarian. This lasagna looks delicious. I love tofu and always feel great after I eat it. I’ll definitely give this recipe a try. Thanks for posting it.
    Deborah Julian
    http://www.DeborahJulian.etsy.com

    • I completely agree with you re: Fish. I think I can eat it because I just don’t know enough yet. Ignorance is bliss but I am sure i will soon need to look behind the velvet curtain. If you try it take a photo – if it’s better than mine I’d love to use it! Thanks Deborah for your readership and taking the time to post! 

    • I completely agree with you re: Fish. I think I can eat it because I just don’t know enough yet. Ignorance is bliss but I am sure i will soon need to look behind the velvet curtain. If you try it take a photo – if it’s better than mine I’d love to use it! Thanks Deborah for your readership and taking the time to post! 

  • there is nothing wrong with eating a vegan meal.  You do not have to commit to a vegan life to eat a vegan dish.  heck I do it all the time when I have hummas and chips (ok, not really a meal, but I often eat it as such)  but beyond that I’m not going to comment on your life style choice.

    Tofu doesn’t taste like anything.  It is the great pretender.  What ever you put it in it absorbs the flavors.  If it is very firm it feels a bit like soft meat, if you eat it soft it feels like a firm pudding.  I’ve actually sworn off soy because it is so highly processed and not good for us nor good for the environment.  (google truth about soy if you are interested)

    as for lasagna fit for garfield, garfield is a cartoon, not a cat.  he can eat all the lasagna he wants 🙂

    that nomorevetbills.com website is interesting.  But check out http://www.catinfo.org (since this is a kitty based website) 🙂

    • So true re: Tofu being the great pretender. I do wonder about the soy thing too….not just the environment but the bit about the hormones? I need to do more research – thanks for the links Julia! Will check them out! 

  • sharon

    Thank you for sharing this recipe!  I can speak from personal experience that this is delicious!  Now I can make it for myself.  I am not a fan of tofu by any means, but when it’s used properly and it takes on actual flavor, it can be quite good and of course good for you.  I also want to point out that the vegan cheese, daiya, is actually not soy based.  As a result, it’s a lot tastier!  So give it a try if you haven’t yet.  It’s the best vegan cheese product on the market today in my opinion.  As for the vegan lifestyle, I also aspire to it. It’s not easy and I agree completely that baby steps are fine and probably advisable because doing anything cold turkey is not easy to do.  I am also a pescatarian who tries not to eat eggs or dairy. When I’m home, I drink non-dairy milk and I never buy eggs (I miss my fried eggs!), but I admit to eating other things made with dairy and egg products. To me that is the most difficult part, conveniently finding products that are vegan and also not too expensive and of course tasty.   I don’t buy leather any more- I just wear what I have. Net net, I think doing nothing is not an option. Doing something and aspiring to be something better is the way to go. And for me, that’s fine for right now.

    • Thank you Sharon! Doesn’t it feel so much better to eat a cruelty free meal? I feel bad everything I do have milk or eggs that I don’t know where they came from. Not to mention Butter I eat w/o even realising it!
      xo

  • Michelle

    This sounds good…next time I make lasagna I will add sausage or meatless meatballs!
    I made a vegan lasagna on Sunday and it was wonderful. I sautéed green peppers, baby portabella mushrooms, carrots and leeks.
    For the cheese I used Tofu..tofu is great and you can do so much with it. Below is the “cheese” recipe.
    Then I did the layers with wheat noodles, veggies, cheese, sauce, like normal.
    12oz soft tofu
    12oz extra-firm tofu
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1/4 cup nondairy milk (such as almond, soy,hemp)
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 teaspoon onion powder
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1 bunch of fresh basil, minced
    2 teaspoons salt
     
    Cut the tofu up so it will fit in the blender. Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
    I stirred in a box of chopped spinach into the “cheese” one it was done blending.
     
    ** Since most boxes of tofu are 16oz, you can cut some off and use it elsewhere, or just use all of it and add a little extra of each ingredient.
     

    • Thanks Michelle! Always excited about new recipes and variations! 

  • venana

    Oh, and as per Garfield and lasagna… My cat ADORES tomato sauce from pizza. Haven’t yet offered her lasagna, but I’m sure she’d love it – it has all her favourite ingredients – pasta, tomato sauce, minced meat and cheese. 😀

    • My cats love tomato sauce too – but did you know it’s not good for them?! NOt sure why but do a google search. Thanks for addressing the Lasagna question though 🙂

      • venana

        Really? I had no idea! Thanks for the tip, I’ll definitely google and get more info. 🙂

  • Oh my dear, it’s easy to become a vegetarian and get your nutrition all screwed up. As a vegetarian, I can tell you this… If you decide to go vegan, first commit to becoming vegetarian. (One step at a time, like you said). But make sure you rethink your meals instead of just stop consuming meats. We need protein intake.

    You can start by dropping fish and making sure you eat lots of eggs from humanely-raised chickens – The package should state “free-range chickens”, not”cage-free” (cage-free doesn’t mean “dark-horrible-barn-free”). And you can try getting cheese from humanely-raised cows. 

    All this gets a bit more complicated when you dine out. So you may want to check your options (and convince your friends they have to do the same). Here in Boston/Cambridge we have many organic restaurants, vegetarian restaurants, etc. I’m sure in NYC you’ll find some restaurants that will appeal to your beliefs. 🙂

    You know you can get in touch with me for whatever you need, when you decide to become vegetarian, right? I’d be glad to share some recipes with you, some tips, etc. 🙂

    • So true about needing to think about protein. I do try to only buy eggs that are humane/cruelty free. I also thought FREE RANGE was BS no? I thought it had to be FREE ROAMING. Damn marketers and total lack of any oversight!
      What have you learned about Soy products? Some people are freaked by it and I find that’s where I get a lot of my protein outside of beans…..
      I’m always open to recipes!

      • Apparently it’s not good to eat too much of it. I read that soy has some kind of substance that could develop into cancer if we eat it every day. I wouldn’t rely on getting those ready-made foods all the time… I guess ANY industrial food is kinda dangerous…

  • my brother is Vegan, going to share this with him right now 🙂

    • Oh!!! Lemme know what he thinks! The black bean tofu stir fry i have posted under “flirting with vegan” is delish too!

  • Jmuhjacat

    Recipe looks wonderful! and you’re so right — it’s not about being a purist, necessarily, or saving the whole world.  Who can do that?  It’s about each of us doing what (s)he can to make the world a kinder, more compassionate place.  As a former vegetarian who now classifies as a “slackto-veg” but avoids the dairy stuff the most (because it’s actually the most cruelly obtained), I don’t beat myself up over the occasional dish with a fish (or bird) in it.  But I feel most comfortable with vegan dishes.

    • Thanks Jmuhjacat! “slackto-veg” – a new term for me! I agree that the dairy is really terrible in regards to animal treatment – and it’s something we don’t really think about> I know I didn’t and I considered myself more in-tune than the average joe.
      i agree, i feel better when i eat cruelty free. it’s truly guilt-free! 

  • Weetzie’s

    Heck no, you’re not being hypocritical. You’re not calling yourself a vegan, you’re simply eating some vegan food. People sure like to get up in somebody’s face about what they’re eating or not eating. Eyes on your own plate, folks! 🙂

    • “Eyes on your own plate, folks! ”  I love it! That made my smile! Thanks Weetzie’s!
      =^^=

  • Sarah Menzies

    YUM!
    You are def not a hypocrite!!! I am a pescatarian also. I was initially a vegetarian but my doctor recommended I still eat fish, otherwise if I didn’t get enough protein my “hair would fall out” (!!!). Therefore I eat fish, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it. I also incorporate some vegan aspects into my life – I don’t buy leather or use products tested on animals. There are many of us pescatarians who “flirt with veganism” so don’t feel bad. We are contributing to saving a small amount of cows, chickens, pigs, sheep etc every year, and saving 1 (or a few) is better than none!

    • Hey Sarah,
      Yeh, I know if I actually fished I wouldn’t eat fish. It’s just that baby steps thing…i can’t handle it all at once!
      xo

  • that looks wonderful! Experiment with nutritional yeast – it makes a delicious “cheesy” sauce that’s exceptional with pasta. And every cruelty free meal you eat, you’re making a very kind choice. 🙂

    • Hi Amanda! I’m sooo sorry I’m late in responding to your post. I hate when I do that> I read it on my blackberry but can’t reply from there so it’s harder to remember to do so when i get home.
      It’s true, we can make kind choices and i think we can change little by little….doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I def wanna try nutritional yeast –  i always wondered why they used it in recipes! Thanks for the insight! 

  • susanbellnc

    I love vegetarian and even some vegan food. But I’m not either. I’m a meat-eater (Sorry, but I just can’t give up my bacon.), but I like the term flexitarian, although that probably doesn’t describe me either as I eat too much meat I’m sure. 

    Don’t know why people want to fuss at other people for things like this. Like you say, we do what we can. I don’t wear fur, I try my best to buy free-range and such. And heaven knows I’ve rescued enough cats over the past few years to start my own pride. No one’s perfect, and what the heck is “perfect” anyway. (Have to say, I’m sitting here wondering if I could get your lasagna recipe past the hubs without him fussing about the lack of meat. May have to try that.)    🙂

    • Flexitarian, I like that one! Even people who give up meat once a week are making an impact. We all do what we can, baby steps I say. Let me know if you get the lasagna pat hubs! YOu can always include ground soy and he might think it’s meat (my dad does!).
      Thanks for reading and commenting Susan! Sorry it took me so long to post a response!