Emily Polsby ~ The best lasagna starts at least one day before, when you craft a handmade tomato sauce using flavorful tomatoes in season, onions, garlic, and herbs. Barring that, or if your foot is busted, you can use Giorgio Baldi sauce in a jar — the best (and only) tomato sauce from a jar I have ever had that tastes like the real thing. When I say the “real thing,” I am referring to the hand-bottled tomato sauce from his Calabrian mother that an Italian admirer pulled out when he was making me pasta’scuit‘ (pronounced past-a-shoot, meaning dried, as opposed to fresh pasta).
I knew nothing about Giorgio Baldi, or his sauce, until I did break my foot and my mother happened to bring it to me. In other words, I would never have discovered it if I hadn’t been injured because I am supremely unlikely to spend that kind of money on sauce from a jar which is usually guaranteed to disappoint anyway. Giorgio Baldi did not. He astonished …
This is a sauce worthy even of ordering online (although they also sell it in select stores) and I am intensely curious how they managed to bottle that kind of authentic flavor, right here in the U.S. Regardless, let the lasagna begin!
Vegan Lasagna alla Emilia
- 1 package good vegan mozzarella (I used Vegan Gourmet – use it fast. Once you open the package, it goes off quickly, no matter how you wrap it)
- 1 package silken tofu (firm or extra-firm)
- 24 – 35 oz. of really good, veggie-laden tomato sauce (preferably homemade or with Giorgio Baldi pictured at right)
- Two small zucchini, sliced thinly
- A big onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- oregano, dill, salt and hot pepper flakes to taste
- 1 box (1 lb.) lasagna noodles — the kind that must be boiled (Never use those no-boil noodles! They are nasty, in my opinion.)
- olive oil
Boil your lasagna noodles, draining about a minute before it says to on the box. Set aside. Drain the tofu and put it in a bowl and pour about 12 oz. of the tomato sauce over it and set aside. (Why? Because this isn’t ricotta, friends. It needs the help, trust me.)
Preheat your oven to 375ºF.
Sauté the onion, adding the zucchini when the onion is soft and turning clear. Let the zucchini get brown and then add the garlic, cooking for just a few more minutes, being careful that the garlic doesn’t burn.
Put a few tablespoons of olive oil in a wide, shallow oven-safe pan and use a paper towel to ensure the oil is well distributed but not pooling.
Layer drained lasagna noodles along the bottom of the pan to make your first layer. Apply sauce, faux ricotta (marinated tofu), vegetables, and finally half your vegan mozzarella. Make another layer of noodles. Repeat, ending with sauce and mozzarella.
Bake for about 30 -40 minutes or until bubbling. The real challenge is getting the “cheese” to melt — no matter how many times it says on the package: “It melts”!
Article, photos, and recipe by Emily Polsby of Baking not Writing. Emily is a freelance writer and blogger from the San Francisco, Bay Area who creates wonderful lactose-free recipes.