It’s Monday, so I think we all deserve some cheesy pasta, don’t you think? Especially when the cheese is dairy free, packed with protein, and loaded with healthy fats. Cheese and pasta just help ease the pain of starting a new week- am I right? But don’t worry, this Asparagus Lasagna is still packed with nutrition, living by my motto of making Health Taste Good, and is the perfect dinner for #MeatlessMonday, that will leave you with leftovers for lunch for the next several days.
Asparagus Lasagna was another one of my favorite healthy recipes my mom made as a kid (you might remember Cauliflower Pie was another one my stubborn-picky-child-taste buds were a huge fan of) The original recipe was from Giada De Laurentiis, the Queen of all things Italian, and thus laden with ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan. As I’ve mentioned before, meat was no problem giving up to go vegan, but I wasn’t, and still am not, ready to part with beloved cheese. Luckily, I’ve managed to stop all cravings in their tracks by making the ricotta ridiculously creamy, and the béchamel/alfredo so absolutely decadent I want to lap it up with a spoon.
If you couldn’t tell already, Asparagus Lasagna is one of the most crowd-pleasing recipes in my repertoire. Cheesy enough for kids to gobble up, the mushrooms make it hearty enough for the meat lovers at the table, and the combination of sundried tomatoes and asparagus make it interesting enough for the foodies in the group. Oh, and it’s entirely dairy-free to meet the needs of those lactose intolerant or vegan! You really can’t go wrong by serving this for any family meal or even a dinner party. Now, I will say this recipe is quite a bit of work, especially the first time you make it. However, I’ve made it so many times, I’ve found ways to save time and streamline the process that will make this lasagna a breeze! Just be sure to read through the entire recipe before you start, and follow me step by step.
So what’s so great about asparagus? For starters, yes, eating asparagus will make your pee stink- but that’s a small price to pay for how amazing this vegetable is! One of the reasons I’m so in love with asparagus is because it’s not only one of the lowest calorie vegetables (1 cup is only about 30 calories), but instead of bloating me the way veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts do, it actually helps DEBLOAT me by flushing excess water and salt from my body. That’s because asparagus contains the amino acid, asparagine, a natural diuretic. Stinky pee in exchange for a tighter body? I’ll take it.
This spring vegetable is also a good source of vitamin E, a fat soluble vitamin, which means it absorbs better when eaten with fat (like the cashews in the alfredo sauce of this lasagna!) Vitamin E helps fight free radicals to prevent inflammation. It also specifically boosts the heart and blood vessels, and prevents aging by improving the elasticity in the skin through strengthening the walls of the capillaries. Additionally, amino acids in asparagus may help protect the liver- pair that with its de-bloating properties and this is the perfect hangover food!
Ok, so let’s get started walking through the process of putting this beauty together. First, soak your cashews until they’re very smooth. Saute the onion and garlic for the alfredo sauce, and then combine all the ingredients in a high powered blender.
Once your puree the sauce, it should be ultra smooth as pictured below. We’re going for an alfredo sauce here!
Then you need to make the ricotta- blend all of the ingredients together until it’s fluffy and smooth. This ricotta is so good, I use it ALL the time in recipes like my Sheet Pan Roasted Broccoli Pasta and Ricotta and Onion Jam Bruschetta, but also to toss with plain roasted veggies to make them feel more decadent and flavorful.
Another step to do ahead of time is make vegan parmesan. This can be done the furthest in advance, because let’s face it, you should always have this on hand in your fridge!
Perhaps the most important step in this recipe is when you drain the sundried tomatoes, DO NOT THROW AWAY THE OIL! Sorry for the yelling, but man, this is like liquid gold. I went years throwing away the oil I drained and rinsed from my tomatoes, as I tried to make them lower in calorie, and then one day it hit me. WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING ELLEN?! This is literally tomato and herb infused olive oil you’re throwing away. It is so delicious. Drain it into a jar, and save it to stir fry literally anything in, or to make salad dressings with, and it will bring new life to all of your meals through its incredible depth of flavor!
Then, it’s time to saute the onions, mushrooms, and asparagus. I like to take a little extra time cooking the onions and mushrooms slowly over low heat, so then they get all caramely and delicious.
Next you need to tranfer the drained sundried tomatoes to a food processor with the basil, and grind until they come together in a crumbly, almost paste-like mix.
Stir in about 3/4 cup of the vegan parmesan to the tomatoes and basil to give it a salty, nutty flavor.
Once the veggies are done sauteeing, you’ll want to transfer them to another large bowl with the vegan ricotta, stirring together until they form the bulk of this lasagna.
You’ve made it through the prep steps- how you doing? Need a break? A breather? Maybe a new idea for dinner because you’ve had it with this lasagna? 😉 Don’t worry, you’re almost to the end, and the finished product is ABSOLUTELY worth the process. Step one: Sprinkle a bit of the tomato basil mixture on the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Then, add 3 whole lasagna sheets horizontally on top, and one vertically, so no bite is noodle-less!
On top of the noodles you’ll spread about half the ricotta and veggie mixture.
Top the ricotta with about 1/3 of the vegan alfredo- this makes the lasagna really rich and saucy!
From there you just repeat the layers one more time through until you reach the top, where you finish with noodles on top, the last of the alfredo sauce, and a sprinkle of the remaining 1/2 cup of cashew parmesan.
I hope you enjoy this light, yet decadent vegan lasagna as much as I do! It’s the perfect mix between *disguised* vegetables and comfort food, that is the perfect balance of protein, carbs, and fat. And remember, when Monday’s got you down, it’s nothing a little (vegan) cheese and pasta can’t fix 😉
- Yield: 12 square portions
A creamy, dairy-free white lasagna perfect for spring when asparagus is in season! Hearty enough for the meat eaters in your family, cheesy enough for the picky eaters, and still packed with nutrition, protein, and healthy fats. This will become one of your family's new favorite recipes!
- Vegan Ricotta
- 1T olive oil
- 1 large onion - roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves - minced
- 1-14 ounce package extra firm tofu - drained
- 2T lemon juice
- 2 tsps sea salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Vegan Alfredo
- 1 1/2 cups raw cashews - soaked 4-24 hours until very soft
- 1T olive oil
- 1 large onion - roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic - minced
- 3 cups water
- 1T lemon juice
- 2 tsps sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Vegan Parmesan
- 1 1/2 cups cashews or pine nuts - preferably raw, but not necessary
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- For the Lasagna
- 12-15 lasagna sheets
- 1 tsp olive, plus 1T - divided
- 2- 8.5 ounce jars sundried tomatoes - drained, but save the oil!
- 1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 3/4 cup + 1/2 cup vegan parmesan - divided
- 1 medium yellow onion - diced
- 16 ounces baby bella mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 bunches asparagus - trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 batch vegan ricotta
- 1 batch vegan alfredo
For the Ricotta:
Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet, then add the chopped onion. Sauté until softened, then add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant (~1 minute). Add the veggies to a food processor with the remaining ingredients, and blend until thick but smooth. Store in the refrigerator. Can be made 3-5 days in advance.
For the Alfredo:
Soak cashews fully immersed in water for 4-24 hours until very soft. Heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and let cook until soft, then add the garlic- cook for one minute more. Remove from heat. In a blender, combine onion, garlic, cashews, water, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Process on high until very smooth, about 2 minutes.
For the Parmesan:
Pulse the ingredients in a mini food processor until a loose powder forms (should resemble breadcrumbs). Be sure not to overmix or it will get too pastey and nut butter-
For the Lasagna:
- Up to 3 days in advance, you can prepare the vegan ricotta, alfredo, and parmesan. Prepare all 3 and set aside before beginning the next step.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tsp olive oil so the noodles don't stick together. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes for dried pasta. Drain and set aside.
- In a food processor combine the sun-dried tomatoes and basil. Pulse until the mixture is combined. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in ½ cup parmesan.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 T olive oil, then add the onion and mushrooms- cook until golden, 6-8 minutes. Next add the crushed garlic and asparagus- cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the ricotta, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
- To assemble, in a 9x13 baking dish sprinkle some of the sundried tomato mixture on the bottom of the casserole dish. Place some lasagna sheet, then the half asparagus mixture. Next drizzle some vegan alfredo. Continue for 1 more layer. Top with lasagna sheets, drizzle with a bit more alfredo, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan. Bake until ingredients are warm- 25-35 minutes.