I’ve been thinking a lot about tradition lately. The holiday season is sprinkled with rituals we carry on from year to year. Traditions give us something to look forward to, and they provide a sense of stability in a season that can feel overwhelming and chaotic. My family has never been one to bake cookies or make gingerbread houses, but our traditions do involve sitting around the dinner table. I can tell you what my favorite one is with just one word: lasagna.
My mom has made what I consider traditional lasagna every Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember. Tender blankets of noodle layered with cheese, tomato sauce, and vegetables. She’s always willing to tweak her recipe to accommodate my changing dietary needs (thanks, mom), but no matter how much the ingredients change, the feeling of familiarity always remains the same.
Because the Christmas season always triggers my cravings for carb-loaded pasta dishes that bring comfort and joy, I decided to start a tradition of my own. This Vegan Skillet Lasagna incorporates all of the elements I love about my mom’s recipe, right down to the mozzarella “cheese.” I also used red bell pepper, mushrooms, and spinach, but you can easily swap these out for your family’s favorite vegetables. There’s no need to cook the noodles before adding them to the skillet; they become tender just simmering in the tomato sauce.
I had a bit of an issue with the lasagna noodles sticking together, but if you add them to the skillet slowly and stir often, you should avoid this problem. Keep an eye on your heat to prevent the noodles from sticking to the bottom of the skillet as they cook, and add a tablespoon of water if needed to loosen things up. This Vegan Skillet Lasagna is savory, creamy, and delicious. I hope it becomes a holiday favorite at your family’s dinner table like it has at mine!
This Vegan Skillet Lasagna is savory, creamy, and delicious. I hope it becomes a holiday favorite at your family’s dinner table like it has at mine!
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- ½ yellow onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, chopped
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- Sea salt and black pepper
- 1 24-oz. jar pasta sauce
- 1 15-oz. can crushed tomatoes
- ½ box whole uncooked lasagna noodles, broken into pieces
- 1 batch vegan mozzarella (recipe follows)
- Fresh basil, for topping
- 1 12-oz. package extra-firm silken tofu
- 3 tsp. lemon juice
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. agave nectar (or maple syrup)
- ½ Tbsp. nutritional yeast
- 2 Tbsp. tapioca starch
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- To make the vegan mozzarella, drain the tofu and press between a few layers of paper towels to remove as much water as possible. Add the tofu to the bowl of a food processor or blender along with the lemon juice, salt, agave nectar, nutritional yeast, and tapioca starch. Blend until creamy and adjust seasonings to taste.
- Warm a tablespoon of olive oil in a 10-inch cast iron skillet (or larger) over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in the red bell pepper and mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms cook down to about half their volume, another 5 minutes. Add the garlic and spinach; season with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until the spinach has wilted, about a minute.
- Pour the pasta sauce and crushed tomatoes into the skillet. Add the broken lasagna noodles and gently stir to coat them in the sauce. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to medium low. You want to see a few bubbles in the sauce around the edges, but the mixture shouldn’t be boiling. Continue to simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the lasagna noodles are al dente. Remember to stir every couple of minutes to prevent the noodles from sticking to the bottom of the skillet. Preheat oven to 350F.
- Add scoops of vegan mozzarella to the top of the lasagna (you might not use it all) and pop the skillet in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. When done, the noodles should be completely cooked. Serve warm with fresh basil, if desired.