More than a decade ago, fire fighter Rip Esselstyn turned the diet world on its head. In the midst of a meat-heavy, high-protein fad, the former professional athlete began promoting the “plant strong” diet. His very fit physique helped to normalize what was essentially the vegan diet. He released his first book, The Engine 2 Diet, which included plant-heavy recipes, like this vegan sweet potato lasagna.
Vegan Sweet Potato Lasagna that’s Seriously Plant Strong
Indeed, Rip’s recipe contains more vegetables than I’ve ever seen in a lasagna! Consequently, if you’re missing one, it’s not a major loss to the taste or nutrition of the overall dish. In fact, some people find the addition of broccoli and corn to be a little too odd, so feel free to omit them, if you wish. And here are a few more quick recipe tips.
Ingredient Tips & Ideas
- Salt: Don’t use a low-sodium pasta sauce, if possible. This recipe has no added salt, and relies on the pasta sauce for that extra flavor. You can add salt, to taste, to the vegetables and some to the sweet potatoes, if you prefer.
- Cheesiness: Believe it or not, this vegan sweet potato lasagna does have hints of cheesiness. But if you want a bigger cheese hit, you can stir a little nutritional yeast into the sweet potatoes (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup) and/or grind some with the cashews.
- Noodles: This is a very wet lasagna, with all of the vegetables and extra sauce. So the dry lasagna noodles “boil” during the baking process. Use just the regular, dry noodle sheets, not the “no boil” type. Also, do not overlap the noodles when laying them in the lasagna.
Special Diet Notes: Vegan Sweet Potato Lasagna
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, peanut-free, vegan, plant-based, and vegetarian.
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 small head garlic, peeled and cloves chopped
- 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- 1 head broccoli, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
- 1 can corn, drained and rinsed
- 1 package firm tofu
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- 2 (25-ounce) jars pasta sauce
- 1 (16-ounce) box dry whole-grain lasagna noodles, uncooked (can use gluten-free, if needed)
- 1 pound frozen spinach, thawed and drained
- 2 sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
- 6 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 1 cup raw cashews, ground (do NOT soak)
- Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- In a nonstick pan over medium-high heat, sauté the onion and garlic for 3 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid and the onions are limp.
- With a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a large bowl, reserving the liquid in the pan.
- Add the broccoli and carrots to the pan, and sauté for 5 minutes. Transfer these veggies to the mushroom mixture.
- Add the peppers and corn to the pan, and saute for 3 minutes, or until the peppers just begin to soften. Transfer these veggies to the mushroom mixture.
- Drain and lightly press the tofu to remove excess water. Crumble the tofu into the bowl of vegetables. Add the oregano, basil, rosemary, and cayenne, an stir well to combine.
- Cover the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish with a layer of sauce. Add a layer of noodles. Cover the noodles generously with the sauce. This way the noodles cook in the oven, saving time and energy. Spread all the vegetables over the sauced noodles. Add another layer of noodles, then another layer of sauce.
- Distribute all the spinach evenly on top. Use all the sweet potatoes to make another layer. Add sauce, then noodles, and finally more sauce. Lay the tomatoes on top.
- Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove the foil, sprinkle with ground cashews and return to the oven for 15 minutes.
- Let the lasagna rest for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.