The rich flavor of oven roasted vegetables, combined with my garlic herb tofu ricotta and some tangy sweet marinara. This gluten-free, vegan lasagna recipe is elegant, delicious, and perfect for the entire family!
There’s just something comforting and exciting about dishes coming out of the oven. They are usually piping hot and often creamy or saucy. Baked dishes are perfect for large gatherings, and Italian ones are some of my favorites.
After I became vegan, I needed a vegan ricotta recipe to use in my baked dishes. I was able to create one of the easiest, tastiest, and healthiest recipes using vegan ricotta, which was my Garlic Herb Vegan Ricotta Recipe that I shared with you last year. Instead of using nuts, I used sprouted tofu as the base and added in garlic and some of my favorite herbs. It’s such a simple recipe, perfect to serve as a stand-alone appetizer with a side of sliced french bread or crackers, or spread onto a sandwich. I served it at my last Holiday party for 35 non-vegans and it was a huge hit, even with the kids!
The Best Vegan Lasagna Recipe
Of course now that I have the perfect vegan ricotta recipe, it’s only natural that I share one of my favorites, Vegan Lasagna Recipes with Roasted Veggies & Garlic Herb Ricotta. This recipe is simple, yet so delicious! It’s layered with a delicious marinara, my vegan ricotta recipe, and oven-roasted vegetables. I finished it with a final layer of the balsamic-marinara, some Italian breadcrumbs, and fresh herbs. Bake it in the oven for some delicious Italian comfort food!
Oven roasting vegetables bring out the flavors and sweetness. Also, instead of a traditional marinara, I love adding in a little balsamic vinegar on top for a sweet and tart combination. You can easily assemble this vegan lasagna recipe ahead of time and bake it in the oven prior to serving, making it perfect for the holidays or any gathering of family and friends.
Our India Trip
I’ve been CRAVING Italian food for the past 3 weeks, so you can bet this recipe is on the menu for dinner next week, just as soon as I get over this jet-lag. My entire family (the 4 of us) took a trip half way around the world to India over Thanksgiving break for 2 weeks! Although I was born and raised here in California, my parents are originally from India and would take us back every 2 years throughout our childhood. Those trips are some of by best family memories. Of course as we grew older and started high school/college, our trips to India became less frequent. This was especially true after my dad’s heart transplant, since his doctors did not recommend traveling to developing countries.
This was the first time taking our kids and my first time in 8 years. We had a blast! Traveled a LOT, given that we only had two weeks. We spent then entire time in Gujarat, visiting family and friends. Everyone was so hospitable. The kids were champs throughout the entire trip. Although they were a little young to fully grasp what India has to offer, they did great and embraced the culture. They enjoyed traveling in rikshas, seeing wild stray animals (pigs, dogs, cows, elephants, monkeys) run right by them throughout the streets, and enjoyed the food. We loved all the home-cooked Indian food, all the different types of local fruit, unlimited amounts of Sitaful (otherwise known as Apple Custard or Cherimoya), coconut water, chewing on sugarcane, freshly roasted peanuts, and eating out with Indo-Chinese food and golas (Indian version of shaved ice, but SO much better!).
I took a lot of snacks for the kids and me since it was their first time going to India and my first time after becoming Vegan. I wasn’t sure what to expect for Vegan foods. After finding out that non-dairy milk was not easy to find everywhere, we took our own small box of SILK almond and soy milk cartons. My motto is that it’s always better to pack more food and leave it there than to not have enough. Lucky for me, both my kids eat Gujarati food, as long as it’s not spicy. So food really wasn’t much of an issue for the kids.
In the cities I visited, most of our family and friends (and restaurants we dined at) were not that familiar with vegansim or the ethical impacts of consuming dairy. So at times, it was a bit difficult to explain my stance. In the end, I’m not sure if they fully understood, but they were all very supportive and would make me fresh roti without ghee, or to omit the ghee or butter in the home-cooked food when possible, and wouldn’t feel bad when I didn’t take any sweets (most have milk or ghee). Overall it was great, but looking forward to visiting some of the larger cities such as Mumbai where there is more awareness of veganism. I’ve even been told that there are several plant-based restaurants there! 🙂
This trip was the first I’ve been on where I haven’t gotten sick!! You may think it’s silly, but every time I’ve gone to India, I usually fall sick from something I eat, since my stomach is not used to the local food or water. Against my desires, we also always try to avoid a lot of street food like pani puri or soups, or raw food. We also always avoid drinking or using the tap water there and stick to boiled/cooled water, filtered water, or bottled water from the pharmacies. In fact, many of the homes now have a filtering system installed for their drinking water.
Before I left, I was contacted by a company called Test Assured Water Testing Kits & Supplies! Talk about PERFECT timing because we were leaving for India and the at-home water test kits were perfect to take along to see the differences between the tap water and filtered bottled water we were drinking! The kits are perfect for travel since they are super light-weight and small. They include all 10 of their water tests to check the water. The tests are VERY easy to administer (in fact, even my 6 year old helped me with the control sample at home), and gives you results of all but one within 10 minutes. Each kit includes the following tests: Lead, Pesticide, Iron, Copper, Alkalinity, pH, Hardness, Chlorine, Nitrates & Nitrites, & Bacteria. Can you tell with my Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering nerdy background that I’m giddy with joy and excitement?!?
I did three water tests…filtered water in San Diego, un-filtered tap water in India, bottled filtered water in India. The tap-water was from Vadodara, a fairly large city in the state of Gujarat, and came from a well-established home. I tested everything mentioned above (used 3 kits total). The Lead, Bacteria, and Pesticides came back negative, even in the un-filtered tap water from India which was great to know. To my relief, the results of the filtered water in San Diego and India were both almost identical and well within Federal Water Limits (a sheet which is included in the test kits for reference). I had heard from several people that unless you purchase your bottled water from pharmacies in India, there’s no guarantee that it’s actually “filtered water”. Many companies in India are known to simply re-fill the water bottles with tap water, re-seal, and sell them as “filtered” water. The brand of water that we purchased in India was Bailley.
According to the kits, the main issues with the Un-Filtered Tap Water from India was the Hardness, pH, and alkalinity. The hardness of the tap-water was 300 ppm (federal water limits, <50 ppm), the pH was 9 (federal water limits, 6.5-8.5), and the alkalinity was 240 ppm. This is exactly what I expected since it’s a hard water source. Next time, I’m curious as to what the results would look like in more rural areas or smaller villages.
Overall our trip was fantastic! Aside from dealing with the hyper-ness of my own two monkeys, I really couldn’t have asked for a more perfect first trip to India for the kids! Although we won’t be visiting nearly as frequently as I did when we were younger, I’m hoping to take them again in the future.
We planned ahead of time and hung up lights, put up our Christmas tree, and decorated the house for the holidays before we left for India in November. So it felt great coming back to a festive house full of holiday spirit, and a warm and cozy bed. We love traveling, but there’s nothing like being HOME during the holidays! So turn your oven on and make this Vegan Lasagna Recipe with Roasted Vegetables & Garlic Herb Ricotta. There’s nothing more that screams comfort food over the holidays than a 9×13″ baked vegan lasagna dish!