I have been making this lasagna with tempeh for many years. It has morphed a few times, ending up in a vegan version if the Parmesan is left out. It reminds me of the Moussaka I used to eat in Vienna at the Turkish restaurants. There were so many layers of flavors -the creaminess of the béchamel sauce, the eggplant, the tomato sauce, the spiced meat.
I tried to recreate a dairy free béchamel sauce. First I started with soy but as the years went on, I came to feel that soy was not as healthy as originally thought, unless fermented. So I experimented with coconut milk and it was even better. I have made it with all different types of the noodles but the best were the fresh ones I got at the Farmers Market in Chicago from Pasta Puttanesca. Now I by fresh gluten free ones.
I recently introduced the tempeh to this recipe and I think it was the last piece in the puzzle!
I played with a raw, sun-dried tomato sauce and bought different brands and flavors. My favorites are tomato basil and sun-dried tomato. One year I found a brand called Patsy’s tomato sauce – pasty is best friend, Every year I ask my her what she wants for her birthday. She grins like a Cheshire cat, “lasagna”!!
This has truly been an evolving Labor of Love Lasagna!
Labor of Love Tempeh Lasagna w/ Coconut Béchamel Sauce & Cashew Ricotta
• 8 oz pack of tempeh
• 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce
• 8-10 small zucchinis – sliced into thin circles
• 1-2 tablespoons Grape seed oil
• sea salt
• Cashew Ricotta (see recipe below)
• Béchamel Sauce (see recipe below)
• 18 oz. Tomato Sauce of choice
• Lasagna noodles of choice – the best ones are the fresh ones!
• 9 x 13 Glass Baking Dish
Sauté zucchini in a medium or large sauté pan, a few at a time so all can cover the pan. Add a little salt on each batch. Flip zucchini till browned. Set aside.
Crumble tempeh into a bowl and add soy sauce. Sauté tempeh in 1 Tbsp. of Grape seed oil till browned. Set aside.
(modified from the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen)
• 3 Tablespoons butter or ghee
• 6 Tablespoons flour – I use rice flour
• 2 ½ cups hot coconut milk
• dash nutmeg
• ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
(I use raw – you do not need this for the sauce to work if you are vegan)
In a medium size saucepan melt the butter or ghee over low heat. Whisk in 4 Tbsp. of the flour, keep whisking while it cooks for several minutes.
Slowly add the hot coconut milk, a little at a time, still whisking for 5-8 minutes or until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Sift in remaining 2 Tbsp. flour, continue whisking to prevent lumps.
After another 5 minutes, with occasional whisking, add the optional Parmesan and a few grinds of nutmeg. Remove from heat. The sauce should be smooth and thick.
• 1-½ cup cashews, soaked 4-8 hours (or overnight)
• ½ cup water
• 1 Tbsp. lemon juice – I use Apple cider vinegar
• 1-2 Tbsp. Nutritional yeast
(start with one and if you like the flavor, add another one)
• Little grinds of sea salt
• 1 tsp. diced shallot
Pour off the water from the soaked cashews. Add all other ingredients and blend in a Vita-mix or food processor till smooth.
Assemble Tempeh Lasagna
Pour a small amount of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 glass lasagna dish and spread around until the bottom is lightly covered.
Add a layer of noodles, the cashew ricotta and the zucchini and pour a third of the coconut béchamel sauce over it and into any cracks.
zRepeat 2 – 3 times depending on how much of everything you use.
After adding the top layer of noodles, pour the remaining tomato sauce over them.
Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 30 min. I add a sprinkle of Parmesan at the end because I use a raw Parmesan and it melts in right away.