Creamy Pesto Tomato Lasagna
1 hour 55 minutes
I’ve been traveling a lot these past few months for work, which means I have been eating out a lot. Each city has its own unique list of must visit places and inspiring new dishes to try. It has been so much fun but I must admit there is something so nice about being at home and eating some good old fashioned comfort food. This yearning for something familiar is what inspired this warm and creamy, pesto tomato lasagna. Sometimes a girl just needs a bowl of cheesy carbs!
The Many Layers of Lasagna
You know I am all about taking a traditional dish and putting my own spin on it right? Well, when I decided I wanted to make my own version of a lasagna dish I wasn’t really sure where to start. Lasagnas can be pretty complex with multiple steps and ingredients. Don’t get me wrong the reward is always worth the work, who doesn’t love a homemade lasagna. But I wanted to create a plant-based version that was super simple while still giving you all the baked pasta goodness you’ve come to love.
To achieve this, I went with two different fillings:
- A red sauce, made with a cannellini beans and pesto
- A bechamel, made with nutritional yeast
For the first sauce I wanted to include cannellini beans. These white beans are sometimes referred to as white kidney beans and are super popular in Italian cuisine. They are a great addition to any recipe as they soak up spices and flavors of the dish. I really like using them in my vegan and plant-based recipes because they also make a great meat substitute. Cannellini beans are bursting with protein, iron, vitamins, and a long list of minerals:
I always have a package from Bob’s Red Mill in my pantry because they are such an easy addition to any recipe and quick way to make sure I’m getting that extra kick of nutrition in my diet.
The bechamel in this dish is a vegan version made with vegan butter, all-purpose flour, almond milk, nutritional yeast, vegan cheese and seasoning. The word might sound fancy but a bechamel is a super basic base for most sauces and in this case a white cheese sauce. I wanted to use this for the other layer in the lasagna to give you that creamy, gooey, cheesy flavor. Again, I used Bob’s Red Mill Nutritional Yeast for that yummy umami taste and not to mention the mega punch of protein. This bechamel is deliciously simple and could actually be used for lots of other pasta sauces too, so feel free to experiment with the seasoning and mix up the flavors. For more pasta recipes be sure to check out:
- The Best Garlic + Onion White Wine Pasta Sauce
- Vegan Creamy Garlicky Pasta
- Pasta and “Meatballs” with Marinara
When you are craving a home cooked comfort in a casserole dish look no further than this creamy pesto tomato lasagna. It is high in protein, easy to make, and even easier to have more than one piece. Check out the recipe below and don’t forget to let me know what you think over at @foodbymaria! Tag #foodbymaria and #fearnotfoodisyourfriend so I can see all your beautiful recreations.
Creamy Pesto Tomato Lasagna
For the Red Sauce:
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium sized sweet white onion, finely chopped
- 4 large cloves of garlic - minced
- 1 799 ml can of whole tomatoes use your hands to crush
- 1 cup of water
- 1 1/2 heaped tbsp vegan pesto
- season to taste
- 1 tbsp. dried thyme
- 1 tbsp. dried parsley
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 2 cups cooked cannellini beans - I used Bob's Red Mill
- 2 cups vegan ground round - if you don't have this use beans
For the Bechamel:
- 3 heaped tbsp. of vegan butter
- 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour - I used Bob's Red Mill
- 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast - I used Bob's Red Mill
- 2 1/2 cups almond milk
- 1 cup vegan cheese - I used Mozzarella
- season to taste
- dash of lemon
- 15 lasagna sheets
- garnish with fresh basil
- Into a deep large pot add your olive oil and heat for a few seconds before adding your onions. Sautee on medium heat for 5 minutes or until translucent and then add your garlic. Cook for another 2 minutes before adding the rest of your ingredients. Give everything a good mix, bring to a boil then simmer on low with the lid on for 1 hour. During this time you can either relax or make your bechamel!
- For the bechamel, melt your butter on low heat in a medium-sized pot. Once melted, add your flour, stir till a ball or more lumpy consistency appears. Add your nutritional yeast and stir more. Now, slowly add your milk and whisk aggressively while cooking on medium-high heat. Stir till you've added all your milk and a more silky smooth sauce comes together. Add your cheese, reduce heat and stir - this may take 2-3 minutes to melt depending on your vegan cheese. At the last minute season to taste and add a dash of lemon. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
- To assemble your lasagna simply add 1/4 of your red sauce into the base of an 8x8 baking dish and distribute evenly. Then place 1 layer of lasagna sheets and repeat with 1/4 of your sauce till your top layer (red sauce should be the last layer), note: leave yourself an inch for the white sauce. Using a ladle, ladle the white sauce onto the lasagna and using a spoon to smooth to the edges. Place a baking dish onto the baking sheet and cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes covered and 20 minutes uncovered.
- To serve, garnish with basil! That's it!
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill
Made this lasagna this evening, it was a hit! I used the walnut/mushroom meat from Maria’s spaghetti sauce in place of the ground round and it worked out perfectly! I also added a can of tomato paste, and pureed the sauce and cannelleni beans with an immersion blender before adding the “meat”. This recipe also Made 2 lasagnas for my family. 1 to eat and 1 to freeze for later! Thank you Maria for making plant based a possibility for me and my family!
YOU ARE SO WELCOME, JENNIFER!! Thank you so much for the love. This makes me so happy, you have no idea. Please let me know if you make anything else!
Made this lasagna today and it was a hit! I used the same mushroom/walnut mixture from Maria’s spaghetti sauce recipe in place of the ground round, which was perfect. I added a can of tomato paste to the sauce and puréed the sauce with the cannellini beans before adding the “meat”. This also made 2 lasagnas for my family! One for now and one for the freezer!
Oh my god!!!!! So I made this lasagna tonight and could not even wait to finish my plate to leave a review. They are DELICIOUS!!! This recipe is so easy, it takes a bit of time but all ingredients are stuff you have at home and everything is easy to make!!! I will definitely do it again, and I’m going back to my plate before someone finishes it for me!
YESSSS!! Coco!!! This is amazing, thanks so much for the love, I am grateful you love it so much!
OK, this recipe is AWESOME! So easy and very filling! Full disclosure I used a jar of sauce but I browned the onion, ground round (used impossible brand), and garlic before adding the sauce. The Bechamel was also easy to make and was delicious (I used miyokos brand mozz). My husband already asked when I’m making this again! Thanks for another winner 🙂
YESS! HUSBAND APPROVED! WINNER! Isn’t the bechamel just the best. Have you tried the Moussaka yet, it’s got this in it as well. Total winner.
Hello Maria! I am a little lost with the ingredients :/
Can you please explain the “1 799 ml can of whole tomatoes” part? Looks like 1799 ml :/ or do you mean one can of tomatoes that 799 ml?
I look forward to cooking it, it looks delicious
Hello! It’s 1, 799ml! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 1799ml of tomatoes, sounds huge!
Enjoy this recipe, it’s sooo soo good.
I tried this recipe a couple of weeks ago … It’s seriously very very good (& simple), word of a Bolognese girl 🙂
yes! Thanks so much. I love this recipe!
This lasagna was the best I’ve ever had , my five kids all ate it with no complaints .. I’ve made a lot of Maria’s recipes and this didn’t disappoint just like all of her recipes , thank you for sharing your wonderful food with us
thank you so much beauty!