Vegan Skillet Lasagna with Homemade Almond Ricotta

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 8 votes
Vegan skillet lasagna with almond ricotta is extra flavourful with spinach walnut pesto. This hearty main is packed with vegetables and plant-based protein, and comes together in one pan.
An overhead shot of a vegan skillet lasagna.
An up close overhead shot of a vegan skillet lasagna.
A 3/4 angle shot of almonds soaking in water.
Two images show a bowl of vegan ricotta and an overhead shot of prepped ingredients for a plant-based lasagna.


While many are thinking about spring vegetables, rhubarb, Mother’s Day brunch treats, and lighter fare right around now, I’ve been thinking about vegan skillet 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.

But life is life sometimes! 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.

For a similar hearty dinner, I recommend checking out my 30-Minute Easy Lentil Bolognese! Like this vegan lasagna, it’s rich with marinara and the plant-based protein is bumped up with lentils. I also sneak a few extra vegetables in that vegan dinner as well!

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. Then you 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! I do outline ways to bring the recipe back to its streamlined nature in the recipe headnotes.

It was all worth the effort! 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! I like to top mine with vegan parmesan to take it over the top. If you love these classic flavours, I’d recommend checking out my vegan mushroom meatballs or this creamy cauliflower pasta.

Vegan Skillet Lasagna with Homemade Almond Ricotta & Spinach Pesto - The First Mess
Vegan Skillet Lasagna with Homemade Almond Ricotta & Spinach Pesto - The First Mess

Vegan Skillet Lasagna with Homemade Almond Ricotta

Vegan skillet lasagna with almond ricotta and spinach walnut pesto. This hearty main is packed with vegetables and plant-based protein.
5 from 8 votes
An overhead shot of a rustic, free form skillet lasagna topped with almond "ricotta" dollops, blobs of pesto, and spinach leaves. The dish is photographed in an octagonal cast iron pan.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Resting Time: 10 hours
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings 4 -6

Ingredients

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)
  • 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

Equipment

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 ;)

Instructions

  • 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.
Vegan Skillet Lasagna with Homemade Almond Ricotta & Spinach Pesto - The First Mess
10/05/2017 (Last Updated 23/05/2023)
Posted in: autumn, creamy, earthy, gluten free, gluten free option, lentils, main course, pasta, refined sugar-free, roasted, salty, spring, summer, tomatoes, umami, vegan, winter

60 comments

Recipe Rating




  • Ann

    5 stars
    I was a little leery about the ricotta. Couldn’t imagine the dish any other way. Ricotta had both nutritional yeast and lemon juice. Had a bountiful basil plant that won’t last through the colder weather coming soon. Thus, made basil pesto instead of spinach. The servings were an individual presence regarding ricotta & pesto. I will have leftovers of each. I sprinkled with vegan parm. Yum!

  • Kevin Garland

    I can’t get probiotic powder.  Can I use a spoonful of sourdough starter to make the ricotta? 

    • Laura

      Hi Kevin,
      I’m not sure how a sourdough starter would work here. I would personally just add a big squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of vinegar to get that tangy flavour and skip the fermentation step.
      -L

  • Megan

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

    • Laura

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

  • Ginette Saucier

    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 :)

    Ginette

    • Laura

      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!
      -L

  • Carrie

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

    • Laura

      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 :)
      -L

  • LaVonda

    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!

  • Alicia

    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?

    • Laura

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

  • Laura

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

    • Laura

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

      • Laura

        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!

  • Allegra

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

  • Lori Cahill

    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!!

    Thanks

    • Laura

      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.
      -L

  • Janet

    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!

    • Laura

      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.
      -L

  • Alison

    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!

  • Katie McMullin

    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?

  • Ines

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

  • Edelin De Los Santos

    Which probiotic powder did you use(brand)?

  • Amanda

    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 <3

  • averee

    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?
    thanks!

  • NIKA

    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! X

    • Laura

      Thank you Nika! I use Bragg’s brand.
      -L

  • Stella

    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!!!

  • Darlene

    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.

  • Jen @ sweetgreenkitchen.com

    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.

  • Caras Kitchen

    Oh gosh this just looks absolutely delicious, wow!

  • Shelley

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

  • Dabin

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

  • Caras Kitchen

    This sounds and looks absolutely delicioius!

  • Maria

    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:)

  • Carrie Southern

    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 :)

    • Laura

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

  • Casey the College Celiac

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

  • Stephanie Dreyer

    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!

  • Violet

    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?

    • Laura

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

  • Sarah | Well and Full

    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 <3

  • Izzy Bruning

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

  • Katrine M

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

  • Addison Jones

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

  • Ashley @ The Naked Food Life

    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 =)

  • Cassie

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

  • Anya

    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 :)

  • Denise Parsons

    Yum!

  • Abby @ Heart of a Baker

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

  • jen@sweetgreenkitchen

    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.

  • Kelsey @ Appeasing a Food Geek

    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! xoxo

  • Sandra Lea

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

  • Marta

    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 :D

  • Hari Chandana

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