VEGAN SKILLET LASAGNA WITH HOMEMADE ALMOND RICOTTA

Vegan Skillet Lasagna with Homemade Almond Ricotta & Spinach Pesto - The First MessVegan Skillet Lasagna with Homemade Almond Ricotta & Spinach Pesto - The First MessVegan Skillet Lasagna with Homemade Almond Ricotta & Spinach Pesto - The First Mess
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 huge 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, why not haha. 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. 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. 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!

Vegan Skillet Lasagna with Homemade Almond Ricotta & Spinach Pesto - The First MessVegan Skillet Lasagna with Homemade Almond Ricotta & Spinach Pesto - The First MessVegan Skillet Lasagna with Homemade Almond Ricotta & Spinach Pesto - The First Mess
VEGAN SKILLET LASAGNA W/ HOMEMADE ALMOND RICOTTA & SPINACH WALNUT PESTO

Print the recipe here!
SERVES: 4-6
NOTES:
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 ;)

ALMOND RICOTTA INGREDIENTS (makes extra):
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)

SPINACH WALNUT PESTO INGREDIENTS:
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

LASAGNA INGREDIENTS:
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.

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