Vegan Skillet Lasagna with Homemade Almond Ricotta & Spinach Pesto - The First Messpin it!Vegan Skillet Lasagna with Homemade Almond Ricotta & Spinach Pesto - The First Messpin it!pin it!Vegan Skillet Lasagna with Homemade Almond Ricotta & Spinach Pesto - The First Messpin it!
While many are thinking about spring vegetables, rhubarb, Mother’s Day brunch treats, and lighter fare right around now, I’ve been thinking about lasagna for about a month. I obtained some brown rice lasagna noodles and the very fancy pre-made almond ricotta from my favourite American grocery store with BIG plans for comfort food. Life is life sometimes, so the noodles sat in my pantry while the ricotta was smeared on quick slices of toast with jam. Still, I kept thinking about it. Those lush, curly-edged noodles steamily slumping under the weight of marinara, pesto, and some creamy almond ricotta. Even just to say it puts me into a relaxed posture with an easy smile. LASAGNAAAAA.

Skillet lasagna is a bonafide thing on Pinterest. There are so many variations on the basic method. The idea is that you don’t have to layer everything up with precision in a baking dish. You can build your sauce on the stove with all the add-ins you like, nestle some busted up oven-ready noodles in there, top it with something creamy-cheesy, and call it a day. Relatively weeknight friendly if you play by the book. Cool right? Leave it to me to take a sped up version of a dish and slow it right down with home-fermented vegan ricotta, 2 sauces, and a bunch of extra small dice vegetables. Needlessly complicating all aspects of my life at every opportunity, whyyyyyy not. I do outline ways to bring the recipe back to its streamlined nature in the recipe headnotes :)

It was all worth the effort though! This is honestly the best lasagna I’ve ever made, and that’s with a heavy thought to my dairy-slicked versions of earlier/simpler times. The natural richness from almonds and olive oil certainly helps with this one. There’s also tons of flavour from those dollops of pesto and some good marinara. It’s deeply comforting and familiar, but without the “time to go to bed” vibe afterward. I filled mine out with carrots, zucchini, and cooked lentils, but you could do small dices of mushrooms, leeks, bell peppers, green garlic, lightly mashed chickpeas… all kinds of things. This recipe is a blank canvas of undeniable goodness that makes you feel good too. Hope you get a chance to try it soon! Very relaxed, lasagna-induced hugs going out to you all :)

Vegan Skillet Lasagna with Homemade Almond Ricotta & Spinach Pesto - The First Messpin it!Vegan Skillet Lasagna with Homemade Almond Ricotta & Spinach Pesto - The First Messpin it!Vegan Skillet Lasagna with Homemade Almond Ricotta & Spinach Pesto - The First Messpin it!
Print the recipe here!
The almond ricotta requires at least 8 hours to ferment and set up. If this doesn’t fit into your schedule, I totally get it. You can substitute it with 1 cup of Kite Hill almond ricotta or 1 cup of this tofu ricotta from Isa Chandra. If you have my book, you could also make the white bean pesto cream on page 135 to replace the ricotta AND the spinach walnut pesto here. Lots of options.
-Noodles & sauce: I used the brown rice, oven-ready lasagna noodles from Rizopia and Rao’s marinara. You could forgo making the pesto and substitute it with a pre-made version. You’ll need about 3/4 cup.
-I also made my pine nut parm to sprinkle on top because clearly I had to make this an all-out nut party. This extra step is optional and the lasagna tastes great without it.
-You need a deep skillet with a decent-fitting lid for this recipe! I used a cast iron skillet and my Staub cocotte lid. Kinda janky but it worked ;)

2 cups sliced or slivered almonds, soaked in boiling water for 1 hour
½ cup reserved soaking water
½ teaspoon probiotic powder (loose or from a capsule)
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt, to taste
1 clove garlic, finely grated with a microplane (optional)
big pinch of nutritional yeast (optional)

½ cup walnut halves
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups spinach, packed
3 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, small dice (1 scant cup diced onion)
1 carrot, small dice (½ cup diced carrot)
1 small zucchini, small dice (½ cup diced zucchini)
⅓ cup cooked French lentils
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ teaspoon chili flakes
sea salt and ground black pepper
3 cups (24 oz) tomato sauce
6 oz oven-ready lasagna noodles (about 6-7), broken into thirds
1 cup almond ricotta
spinach walnut pesto
extra spinach

Make the almond ricotta: drain the almonds and transfer them to a food processor or blender. Add a ¼ cup of the soaking water. Pulse the almonds until lightly creamy-looking. It should be lumpy like dairy-based ricotta. Add more soaking water if necessary to achieve the right texture.

Scrape the ricotta into a clean glass container and stir in the probiotic powder until evenly distributed. Cover the container with a clean dish towel, securing it with a rubber band. Place the ricotta in a warm spot and let it ferment for at least 8 hours. I like to put mine inside the oven with only the oven light on.

Check the ricotta at 8 hours and stir it up. It should have a lightly tangy flavour. I usually let mine go for a full 10 hours. Once it’s to your liking, stir in the olive oil, salt, garlic, and nutritional yeast (if using). Place a lid or some sort of tight seal on top, and store the ricotta in the refrigerator.

Make the pesto: toast the walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the walnuts to a blender or food processor. Add the garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, spinach, olive oil, salt, and pepper to the blender as well. Pulse the motor until the contents are uniformly chopped. Then, run the motor on high until you have a chunky puree. You may have to scrape down the sides a few times as you mix. Set the pesto aside.

Make the lasagna! Set an 10/11-inch skillet over medium heat. Pour the olive oil in. Add the onions, carrot, and zucchini to the skillet. Saute until onions are translucent and edges of carrots are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the lentils, garlic, chili flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Pour the tomato sauce in and stir. Bring the sauce and vegetables up to a simmer. Nestle the broken lasagna noodles into the sauce mixture in the skillet. Try to submerge them in sauce by pushing them around. Cover the skillet and gently simmer until the lasagna noodles are just-tender, about 15-17 minutes. Add ¼ cup of water and stir if the mixture seems to be drying out too fast.

Stir the vegetables and noodles, just to check that all the noodles softened up. Dollop the almond ricotta and spinach walnut pesto on top of the lasagna, pushing the dollops into the lasagna with the back of your spoon. Scatter a small handful of spinach here if you like. Place the lid on top and cook the lasagna for another 10 minutes.

Serve the lasagna hot with a drizzle of olive oil or pine nut parm, if you like.

  • Hari Chandana10/05/2017 - 5:11 am

    Looks so tempting.. lovely photography.. thanks for sharing! :)ReplyCancel

  • Marta10/05/2017 - 5:29 am

    Oh my! I’m drooling here! This is the best looking lasagna ever… honestly :) I’ve never tried a sillet version or even the almond ricotta with probiotics (I usually stick to the tofu or cashew versions). Must try this soon :DReplyCancel

  • Sandra Lea10/05/2017 - 6:21 am

    Lasagna looks yummy but I have to comment on that skillet. I’ve not seen one like it, who makes it?ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey @ Appeasing a Food Geek10/05/2017 - 7:17 am

    Loving this idea! I’ve never made almond ricotta (gasp! I know. I’m behind on the times), so I’m kind of excited to try it out! Also, the lasagna is gorgeous. Definitely making me crave its relaxing comfort right now too! xoxoReplyCancel

  • […] Vegan Skillet Lasagne with Homemade Almond Ricotta, The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • jen@sweetgreenkitchen10/05/2017 - 9:36 am

    This looks amazing! I love lasagna and have been making a dairy cheese and spinach version for years, but as I’ve been transitioning to a more plant based way of eating I’m so excited to see your take on the classic. I also love that you offer so many options, but I’m most excited to try the homemade almond ricotta.
    I also wanted to let you know how much I’ve been enjoying your book. I first borrowed it from the library, but love it so much I’m hoping my own copy will be wrapped and waiting for me on mother’s day
    And your skillet is awesome.ReplyCancel

  • Abby @ Heart of a Baker10/05/2017 - 10:15 am

    Ohh I’m all over the skillet lasagna, so this looks AMAZING. I’m also v v into that ricotta recipe! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Denise Parsons10/05/2017 - 10:50 am
  • Anya10/05/2017 - 11:22 am

    Oh man, this looks like heaven! I’m the same with the tendency to over-complicate things, but sometimes that’s just the way to go :)ReplyCancel

  • Cassie10/05/2017 - 1:14 pm

    Nothing wrong with thinking about lasagna and making it spring-friendly! This recipe looks fantastic!!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley @ The Naked Food Life10/05/2017 - 1:16 pm

    This is the perfect comfort dish. I love the idea of skillet lasagna although I have never made it this way. Your version is so beautiful and nutritious. Pinned, and at the top of my list for dinners to try =)ReplyCancel

  • Addison Jones10/05/2017 - 2:34 pm

    I have not had Lasagna in ages. I will try this one out soon! Looks amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Katrine M10/05/2017 - 4:22 pm

    Ooh, YUM! I need to try this! Looks so good and I haven´t had a vegan lasagne after I became vegan yet.ReplyCancel

  • Izzy Bruning10/05/2017 - 4:25 pm

    This looks amazingly delicious!!!!
    Izzy | Pinch of delightReplyCancel

  • Sarah | Well and Full10/05/2017 - 5:00 pm

    I’m so excited seeing a recipe come to fruition that you’ve been thinking about for so long, because I’ve totally been there! It’s such a satisfying feeling, and this is such a stellar result! You go, awesome lady <3ReplyCancel

  • Violet10/05/2017 - 5:18 pm

    Woa I’m totally into the idea of making homemade ricotta! The idea of fermenting stuff is a little scary though – how long does it keep for after it’s made?ReplyCancel

    • Laura10/05/2017 - 6:03 pm

      I think it would be good in the refrigerator for a week!

  • Stephanie Dreyer10/05/2017 - 8:43 pm

    So creative! I love this idea. I am a huge fan of Kite Hill’s ricotta – great sub, but would love to try your recipe!ReplyCancel

  • Casey the College Celiac11/05/2017 - 12:06 am

    Can I join you at dinner? This looks absolutely SCRUMPTIOUS! Love all the mixes of textures and flavors!ReplyCancel

  • Carrie Southern11/05/2017 - 9:52 pm

    This was sooooooo delicious! We loved it! I used Kite Hill ricotta and other than that followed the recipe exactly. This is my new favorite lasagna! Thank you so very much for being the culinary genius you are :)ReplyCancel

    • Laura12/05/2017 - 1:25 pm

      Isn’t that Kite Hill ricotta amazing? So glad you enjoyed it!

  • Maria12/05/2017 - 4:19 pm

    The ricotta and pesto with lemon are absolutely divine looking!!! This looks fabulous. Can I ask where you found that skillet? I’ve never seen one shaped like that! It looks like a great size… and i’m a sucker for fun shapes:)ReplyCancel

  • Caras Kitchen12/05/2017 - 6:21 pm

    This sounds and looks absolutely delicioius!ReplyCancel

  • Dabin12/05/2017 - 11:08 pm

    That looks so good! I love ricotta cheese, but almond ricotta cheese sound even better than the original!ReplyCancel

  • […] have been drooling over The First Mess’ latest recipe: Vegan Skillet Recipe and I am probably going to end up making it tomorrow. #Niagara […]ReplyCancel

  • Shelley13/05/2017 - 8:49 pm

    Hot damn – this sounds epic. What will you think of next?! Love it!ReplyCancel

  • Caras Kitchen13/05/2017 - 8:51 pm

    Oh gosh this just looks absolutely delicious, wow!ReplyCancel

  • Clare Knighton14/05/2017 - 4:05 pm

    This looks amazing! The photography is epic!

    Can’t wait to make it!


  • Jen @ sweetgreenkitchen.com17/05/2017 - 1:25 am

    I commented here a few days ago, but I just needed to add more. My 16 year old daughter made this dish (with some modifications) for my mother’s day dinner and we loved it! She changed up some of the veggies, swapping in eggplant and peppers and left out the lentils, but either way, I have to say the star of the show was the almond ricotta, delicious! I’m imagining so many other ways to use it now, definitely adding this to the permanent file.ReplyCancel

  • Darlene17/05/2017 - 1:36 pm

    I made this for Mother’s Day for myself. It was “outa this world” good. The ricotta is so delish and well worth the effort. This will be my next dinner party main dish. Thank you for posting.ReplyCancel

  • Stella22/05/2017 - 3:06 am

    Made it for friends – soooo delicious! The ricotta also worked with cashews and sunflower seeds, though it didn’t have the beautiful white color yours does. Thanks so much for posting!!!ReplyCancel

  • NIKA27/05/2017 - 8:34 am

    I love your blog, your recipes and your food photography! This looks lovely and I’ll be making it soon! May I ask,which brand of nutritional yeast do you use?
    Ps Thanks for sharing gorgeous, innovative recipes with us! XReplyCancel

    • Laura28/05/2017 - 11:18 am

      Thank you Nika! I use Bragg’s brand.

  • averee01/06/2017 - 1:09 pm

    question about probiotics: do you use a totally vegan probiotic, or one that was made using dairy products but the final product contains no dairy. can you provide your brand?

  • Amanda02/06/2017 - 7:39 pm

    Hey, iamafoodblog has the same skillet! I’ve been lusting after it for awhile….This recipe looks like it would be good with giant pasta shells too <3ReplyCancel

  • Edelin De Los Santos07/06/2017 - 3:28 pm

    Which probiotic powder did you use(brand)?ReplyCancel

  • Ines08/06/2017 - 5:55 pm

    Made this twice in the last week – it’s amazing! :)
    Thank you so much for the recipe! Lasagna without the complicated parts :)ReplyCancel

  • Katie McMullin25/06/2017 - 1:01 pm

    Hi, I’m not clear on this instruction; “soak almonds in boiling water for one hour”. Does that mean the water is boiling the entire one hour? Or just boiling when you put the almonds in there?ReplyCancel

  • Alison17/08/2017 - 8:09 pm

    This was really delicious. I loved the almond ricotta! I used much less probiotic powder because of all of the pills I was cracking open, but I just let it sit longer and it was fine. The spinach pesto was also yummy. My family wasn’t as enthusiastic as I was but I think I would definitely even just make the sauce + noodles sometime. thanks!ReplyCancel

  • […] should make this lasagna this weekend because it is […]ReplyCancel

  • Janet05/12/2017 - 3:19 pm

    This looks delicious! All I have is Kale on hand, do you think that would be a good substitute for spinach in the pesto recipe? If yes, should I use 2 cups kale? Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Laura06/12/2017 - 4:40 pm

      Yes you can use the same amount of kale! I would probably add a little more garlic and lemon since kale is a bit more intense-tasting than spinach.

  • Lori Cahill29/12/2017 - 1:18 pm

    Just a question about the vegan almond ricotta cheese. Why do you add the probiotic and would any kind of probiotic work? I have lots of types of probiotics in my fridge and really don’t want to purchase another kind. The recipe looks wonderful and will be attempting it very soon…once the Christmas rush is over that’s for sure!!


    • Laura01/01/2018 - 12:49 pm

      The addition of probiotic makes the “ricotta” slightly tangy and more cheese-like. I’ve made this with various levels of probiotic (8 million and up to 50 million), and it tastes virtually the same each time.

  • Allegra05/02/2018 - 8:51 pm

    This was phenomenal, as is your photography. Thank you for sharing!!!ReplyCancel

  • Laura27/04/2018 - 1:09 pm

    Hi, Laura! I’m guessing this would work okay in a dutch oven?ReplyCancel

    • Laura30/04/2018 - 12:04 pm

      Yes it would be totally fine! Just keep an eye on the liquid level and add splashes of water if needed.

      • Laura02/05/2018 - 3:28 pm

        As a follow-up, I made this earlier this week with the white bean pesto from your book and some homemade vegan mozzarella and it was a big hit! I loved that it felt indulgent and healthy at the same time! And with the one topping instead of two, it was pretty quick. I will definitely make it again!ReplyCancel

  • Alicia03/05/2018 - 2:04 pm

    I am making this tomorrow and am super excited. To confirm, you cook the French lentils and then measure 1/3 cup, not cook 1/3 cup of lentils?ReplyCancel

    • Laura03/05/2018 - 4:13 pm

      Yes you’ve got it! Cook, then measure ;)

  • Eggplant + Ricotta Fettuccine13/05/2018 - 8:07 pm

    […] almond ricotta (from The First Mess) […]ReplyCancel

  • LaVonda17/05/2018 - 2:48 pm

    My husband made me dinner in bed on Mothers Day and this is what I picked! It was so good he nailed it! Used the leftover ricotta today for my vegan caesar salad and it’s still amazin!ReplyCancel

  • Carrie22/09/2018 - 9:40 pm

    I love this recipe! I make it all the time. I wondered if it would freeze okay?ReplyCancel

    • Laura25/09/2018 - 2:23 pm

      Hi Carrie!
      I think this would freeze just fine. Although I have a hunch that the pesto may veer over to shades of brown rather than pretty bright green. It will still taste great though :)

  • Ginette Saucier24/12/2018 - 8:56 am

    Hi Laura!
    What if the almond ricotta doesn’t have that tangy flavour after 10.5 hours? I used a 10M probiotic powder… We are making your skillet lasagna tonight – Christmas Eve :)


    • Laura24/12/2018 - 11:07 am

      Hi Ginette!

      Thankfully, this is easy to fix. Just add a good squeeze of lemon juice or white wine vinegar to the ricotta and stir it in until it’s as tangy as you like it. So sorry that the probiotic powder didn’t do its work. Enjoy!

  • […] Vegan Skillet Lasagna with Homemade Almond Ricotta: Another lasagna skillet! Well why not? They’re super easy. This vegan recipe features homemade almond ricotta to replace the traditional ricotta used in lasagna and spinach walnut pesto for that extra kick. Like the vegetarian recipes, this recipe also includes hardy veggies such as lentils, mushrooms, and zucchini to replace the meat. After tossing the veggies, sauce, and no-boil noodles into the skillet to cook, top the skillet with the homemade almond ricotta and featured spinach walnut pesto. […]ReplyCancel

  • Megan22/10/2019 - 7:38 pm

    Would it be possible to make this in a regular frying pan?
    Thanks so much!ReplyCancel

    • Laura23/10/2019 - 7:33 am

      Hi Megan,
      Yes, as long as it’s oven-safe, you’re good!

  • […] Vegan Skillet Lasagna with Homemade Almond Ricotta: Another lasagna skillet! Well why not? They’re super easy. This vegan recipe features homemade almond ricotta to replace the traditional ricotta used in lasagna and spinach walnut pesto for that extra kick. Like the vegetarian recipes, this recipe also includes hardy veggies such as lentils, mushrooms, and zucchini to replace the meat. After tossing the veggies, sauce, and no-boil noodles into the skillet to cook, top the skillet with the homemade almond ricotta and featured spinach walnut pesto. […]ReplyCancel

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