I think it’s safe to say that I make a lot of Italian food in my house. It’s what I was raised on and the first type of cuisine I learned how to cook, thanks to my mom. I find many people have a specific style of cooking, a style they gravitate toward when presented with ingredients in their kitchen. While I enjoy cooking all types of cuisine, I have a natural ability to whip up a tasty Italian dish on any given night. And there are no complaints from the boy 😉
One thing I really enjoy doing is making fresh pasta. It’s a long, tedious process, which I somehow find meditative, but the result is SO worth it. I just wish I had the time to do it more often, because it’s hard to go back to boxed pasta once you’ve had fresh. I had in my mind that I wanted to make a vegetarian lasagna this past weekend, and in my opinion fresh pasta is the only way to go when making a lasagna. For one, it’s super easy to create basic pasta sheets versus having to transform them into noodles, ravioli, etc. Second, the texture is just so much better than boxed sheets AND you don’t have to cook them first when they are fresh! The moisture from the sauce and cheese actually cook the noodles for you in the oven, resulting in perfectly al dente pasta. I have included my fresh pasta recipe below, but you can also find fresh pasta sheets in the refrigerator section of the grocery store if you prefer to go that route. Or you can still make this with dried pasta sheets.
You’ll notice from the title that this is not “veggie lasagna”, but rather a vegetarian version of the real thing for all you meat lovers. I use my go-to Lightlife soy crumbles as a sub for the ground beef. While I enjoy veggie lasagna, I’m a sucker for the meatier texture and flavor of traditional lasagna, which is so realistic that the meat-eaters in your life likely won’t even be able to tell the difference!
How to make fresh pasta
- 4 eggs
- 3 cups flour (plus more for kneading)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Water as needed
I have a Kitchenaid mixer and pasta roller attachment, which makes this process a lot easier (if you don’t, just Google instructions). If you have one as well, you’ll add all the above ingredients to the mixer bowl and use your paddle attachment to mix for about 1 minute, adding water 1 Tbsp. at a time until your dough comes together in a ball. If your dough is crumbly, add more water. If your dough is sticky, add more flour. Change the paddle out for the dough hook and knead for 2 more minutes on low speed. Take the dough ball out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a bit more. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let rest for 20 minutes.
Cut your dough ball into smaller pieces (about 10). Using your pasta sheet attachment, start on setting 1 and feed a small dough piece through. Fold in half and feed it through again. Repeat this process 3-4 times (this is adding texture to the dough). Change to setting 2 and feed your dough piece through just once, without folding before or after. Repeat this process on the 3, 4 and 5 settings, feeding through just once. You’ll have a long, thin piece of dough. Lay flat on a floured surface and repeat with the remaining dough.
You may have to cut the pieces into different shapes to fit in your dish. If you end up not using all the dough, cut into ribbons and toss with flour to make pasta for another night!
Making the Lasagna
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 12-oz. package Lightlife Original Soy Crumbles
- 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 9 fresh pasta sheets (or cooked if you’re using dried)
- 15 oz. ricotta cheese
- 4 cups fresh spinach
- 16 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup grated/shredded parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
- In a large saute pan over medium heat, add the oil and garlic, and saute for 30 seconds. Add the meat and cook for 5-10 minutes, or until it starts to brown. Stir the tomatoes, parsley, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on med-low heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
- Line the bottom of your dish with 3 of the pasta sheets, slightly overlapping. Spoon half of the ricotta on the pasta sheets, spreading around to cover completely. Spread 1/3 of the meat sauce over the ricotta. Layer half of the spinach leaves over the meat sauce, then add 1/3 of the mozzarella over the spinach. Repeat this full process once more. Add the remaining pasta sheets, then remaining meat sauce, then remaining mozzarella. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.
- Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes. Cut into 8 squares and serve.