Eggplant Lasagna featuring vegetables from the Farmers Market!

This amazing Eggplant Lasagna is the perfect way to use fresh, local produce that is in season right now! Full of seasonal vegetables like eggplant, tomato, garlic, and fresh basil, it is an absolute flavor explosion and sure to please your whole family! I purchased all my veggies from my local Farmers Market, with the exception of the fresh basil, which I grew in my own garden!

fresh basil

Sneaking in the veggies

This vegetable lasagna recipe is a great way to sneak some veggies into a recipe that, if your kids are picky eaters like mine, they will still enjoy! They may not even realize it has eggplant! (If you don’t tell them, that is). This is because I have used an immersion blender to blend the eggplant and tomatoes into a sauce, and then layered it with spinach lasagna noodles and a delicious “cheese” mixture that you can make either vegetarian or vegan style.

veggie sauce

What is the difference between vegetarian and vegan?

If you are new to vegetarianism or veganism (or just eating vegetables in general), you may already know that vegetarians don’t eat meat. Now, some people are under the impression that some vegetarians still eat chicken and fish, but in my view, being vegetarian means that you do not eat animal flesh of any kind! The consensus is that vegetarians usually still consume diary products and eggs, but the bulk of their diet will come from plant-based sources such as vegetables (duh), fruits, beans, legumes, tofu, grains, nuts, and seeds (if they are doing it right!).

*If you want tips and advice on how to eat a healthy plant-based diet, click on the link below or in the sidebar to download your FREE PLANT-BASED PROTEIN GUIDE and subscribe to my weekly newsletter.

Vegans on the other hand, eschew animal products of any kind, including all dairy products such as milk, cheese, butter, eggs, gelatin, and even honey. They also reject wearing animal-derived products such as leather or any product that is tested on animals. So, it is a lifestyle that not only promotes good personal health, but also the health of the planet and our animal friends!

The transition to a vegan or vegetarian diet

Many people around the world are starting to embrace the health benefits of a plant-based diet, but the transition to a vegetarian or vegan diet can sometimes be very difficult. I myself have been vegetarian for 30 years, with several years of also being vegan, mainly in my 20s. Obviously, at some point in my life (after having children), I found it difficult to maintain a completely vegan diet and I returned to eating cheese and eggs. However, this year, I made it my resolution to return to a healthy and completely vegan diet.

But it not always been easy transitioning to a vegan diet – even from a vegetarian diet, much less one that involves eating meat! For example, even though I have not eaten a slice of cheese, or spread real butter on my toast in 8 months (it took me slightly longer to give up eggs), I still consider myself in transition because it can be especially difficult when you go out to a restaurant or special event with your family and realize that you can’t eat many of your previously favorite dishes anymore!

Sometimes, you just don’t realize until it is too late that something contains dairy! This happened to me recently during a visit to the Colorado Renaissance Faire where we get an amazing Portabella Mushroom Sandwich every year. See, I forgot that the sauce on it probably contains mayo, until I had it in my hot, hungry hands! At that point, I just didn’t care – would eating a tiny bit of mayo just this once kill me? The answer is No, of course not! I just resolved to be more vigilant in the future and to also come up with my own and even better Portabella Sandwich with a vegan sauce! Look for that soon!

Just remember that if you are making the transition to a vegetarian or vegan diet, it is okay to slip up every once in a while! Nobody is perfect! And while some people can just make the change cold-turkey, I personally feel that it is better to do it gradually. That way you let your body and your mind adjust to the changes without feeling completely deprived. Just do your best, take baby steps, and you will eventually reach your goal!

That said, last year, when I was still a vegetarian, I came up with this Eggplant Lasagna recipe after purchasing a beautiful eggplant at the Farmers Market. I decided to combine my favorite cheese lasagna recipe with a vegetable sauce that I made up on the fly. I decided to turn that beautiful eggplant into a sauce because, like I said, my kid is a picky eater and I wanted to disguise the eggplant!

But now that I am vegan, I wanted to try a vegan version of the recipe as well.That is why this is Eggplant Lasagna 2 Ways – Vegan and Vegetarian! The vegan version has a delicious tofu ricotta made with a blend of tofu, cashews, nutritional yeast, and herbs to replace the cottage cheese mixture. Vegan mozzarella replaces the pizza cheese blend. This way, whatever stage you are in, vegetarian, vegan, or even if you are not transitioning at all, you can still enjoy this truly delicious vegetable lasagna recipe!

I featured this recipe in my latest YouTube video, Vegetarian Eggplant Lasagna + A Trip to the Farmers Market, which you can view here:

 

Vegan Eggplant Lasagna with Tofu Ricotta

This Vegan Eggplant Lasagna recipe features a Tofu Ricotta and fresh, local, and seasonal produce purchased at the Farmers Market. Healthy and delicious, it is sure to satisfy the whole family!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian, vegan
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Resting time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 430 kcal
Author Jones LeFae

Ingredients

Roasted Eggplant

  • 1 1/2 lb (1 large) eggplant peeled, cubed, roasted
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil extra virgin
  • salt (optional)

Veggie Sauce

  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 cups tomatoes chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs fresh basil chopped

Tofu Ricotta

  • 14 oz firm tofu drained and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews soaked (optional)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper freshly ground

You will also need:

  • 9 lasagna noodles (I used the spinach kind)
  • 14 oz tofu firm or extra-firm
  • 7 oz vegan mozarella shreds (like Daiya brand)
  • 12 oz vegan pasta sauce (1/2 jar)
  • 1-2 Tbs fresh basil chopped (optional)

Instructions

To Roast the Eggplant

  1. Wash and peel the eggplant. You can peel it in strips, leaving half of the skin on, or peel it completely. Cut the eggplant into 1" cubes. Toss the cubes in the olive oil and sprinkle with salt, if desired. Place the cubes on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes, then stir them up and bake for another 10 minutes. While the eggplant is roasting, you can chop your garlic and tomatoes and heat up a large pot of water to boil the lasagna noodles.

To make the sauce:

  1. In a skillet on medium heat, add 1 Tbs. olive oil, the minced garlic, red pepper flakes and 1/4 tsp. of salt and stir together. Once the garlic has started to soften (approximately one minute), add the roasted eggplant, the chopped tomatoes, another 1/4 tsp of salt, and chopped basil. Lower the heat to medium-low and cover to simmer while you boil the lasagna noodles and make the tofu ricotta.  When the lasagna noodles are done cooking and you have your ricotta made, use an immersion blender to blend the cooked eggplant and tomatoes into a sauce. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can spoon the veggie mixture into a blender or food processor. Blend until nearly smooth. You may want to leave a few small chunks in for texture.

Boil the lasagna noodles:

  1. Place the lasagna noodles in boiling water and cook according to package instructions. This typically takes about 10 minutes. You will need to carefully and gradually push the noodles down into the water as they cook and soften until they are completely submerged. When they are done cooking, drain them in a colander.

To make the tofu ricotta:

  1. In a food processor or blender, place the tofu, soaked cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Blend until smooth.

    In a large mixing bowl, add the additional 14 oz. block of firm tofu and mash it with a potato masher or fork until it is about the consistency of cottage cheese (there should still be some small chunks in it).

    Add the tofu ricotta to the mashed tofu and stir together until fully incorporated.

Assemble the lasagna:

  1. Start with a layer of 1/2 of your eggplant sauce on the bottom of a 13x9 or 11x9 baking dish (unless you are cutting the recipe in half, then you will use an 8x8 baking dish). Place three of the lasagna noodles to cover the bottom of the baking dish. Next you will layer 1/2 of the tofu ricotta mixture, and 1/3 of your vegan cheese shreds, and the other 1/2 of the sauce. Repeat the layers - noodles, tofu ricotta, cheese shreds, and your final layer of noodles.  To top it all off, you will spread the pasta sauce (I use a commercial one for this because it is less chunky and more spreadable but you can use more of the eggplant sauce if you want), then the final 1/3 of the cheese shreds.  Sprinkle some more of the fresh basil on top if desired.

Bake the lasagna:

  1. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

eggplant lasagna

Vegetarian Eggplant Lasagna

This version of my Eggplant Lasagna contains the cheese and eggs that you would find in a more traditional cheese lasagna. Like the vegan version, it features seasonal vegetables such as eggplant, tomatoes, and fresh basil.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian, vegetarian
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Resting time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 390 kcal
Author Jones LeFae

Ingredients

Roasted Eggplant

  • 1 1/2 lbs eggplant (1 large) cubed and roasted
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil extra virgin
  • salt (optional)

Sauce

  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 cups tomatoes chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil chopped

You will also need:

  • 14 oz firm or extra-firm tofu drained and patted dry
  • 2 cups cottage cheese or ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper ground
  • 7 oz pizza cheese blend or mozzarella shreds
  • 12 oz (half jar) pasta sauce
  • 1-2 Tbsp fresh basil chopped
  • 9 lasagna noodles (I used the spinach kind)

Instructions

To roast the eggplant:

  1. Wash and peel the eggplant. You can peel it in strips, leaving half of the skin on, or peel it completely. Cut the eggplant into 1" cubes. Toss the cubes in the olive oil and sprinkle with salt, if desired. Place the cubes on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes, then stir them up and bake for another 10 minutes.  While the eggplant is roasting, you can chop your garlic and tomatoes and heat up a large pot of water to boil the lasagna noodles.

To make the sauce:

  1. In a skillet on medium heat, add 1 Tbs. olive oil, the minced garlic, red pepper flakes and 1/4 tsp. of salt and stir together. Once the garlic has started to soften (approximately one minute), add the roasted eggplant, the chopped tomatoes, another 1/4 tsp of salt, and chopped basil. Lower the heat to medium-low and cover to simmer while you boil the lasagna noodles and make the tofu and cheese filling. When the lasagna noodles are done cooking and you have your cheese mixture made, use an immersion blender to blend the cooked eggplant and tomatoes into a sauce. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can spoon the veggie mixture into a blender or food processor. Blend until nearly smooth. You may want to leave a few small chunks in for texture.

Boil the lasagna noodles:

  1. Place the lasagna noodles in boiling water and cook according to package instructions. This typically takes about 10 minutes. You will need to carefully and gradually push the noodles down into the water as they cook and soften until they are completely submerged. When they are done cooking, drain them in a colander.

Make the cheese filling:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the block of firm tofu and mash it with a potato masher or fork until it is about the consistency of cottage cheese (there should still be some small chunks in it). Add the cottage cheese or ricotta and the eggs to the mashed tofu. Add 1/8 tsp. each salt and black pepper and stir together until fully incorporated.

Assemble the lasagna:

  1. Start with a layer of 1/2 of your eggplant sauce on the bottom of a 13x9 or 11x9 baking dish (unless you are cutting the recipe in half, then you will use an 8x8 baking dish). Then place three of the lasagna noodles to cover the bottom of the baking dish. Next you will layer 1/2 of the tofu and cheese mixture, and 1/3 of your cheese shreds, and the other 1/2 of the sauce. Repeat the layers - noodles, tofu/cheese mixture, cheese shreds, and your final layer of noodles. To top it all off, you will spread the pasta sauce (I use a commercial one for this because it is less chunky and more spreadable but you can use more of the eggplant sauce if you want), then the final 1/3 of the cheese shreds. Sprinkle some more of the fresh basil on top if desired.

Bake:

  1. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

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