Recipe: Avocado Pesto Lasagna Roll-Ups [VEGAN]

In my pre-vegan days, my mom's lasagna was one of my favorite things to eat. She made it for me on my birthday, graduations, holidays--it's become synonymous with happiness and celebration. It was always stuffed full with rennet-free ricotta, carrots, peppers, spinach, and the most amazing tomato sauce. There was literally nothing wrong with her lasagna. 

Now that I've ditched the dairy, lasagna is a rare treat reserved for the one or two special restaurants that offer a good plant-based version. Making it at home always seemed like too much of a labor intensive task so it's taken me a while to finally attempt it!

The motivation finally hit when I bought a living basil plant and remembered how good the pesto lasagnas in Italy were. The cravings became so deep and undeniable that I literally had no other option than to finally just set aside the time to make lasagna.

I was inspired by this recipe to make individual lasagna rolls and then smother them in pesto. If you decide to give my pesto lasagna roll ups a try, be sure to designate at least two hours in the kitchen. They take a looong time! Luckily, there's nothing difficult about putting them together, each component just takes patience and time. I served these rolls with an arugula salad on the side :) My non-vegan sister absolutely loved these and kept saying "Mmm...wow" as she took bite after bite. When your cheese-loving sister approves of these dairy-free delights, you know you've got a winner!

Showing off my rollin' technique!

Showing off my rollin' technique!

Avocado Pesto Lasagna Roll-Ups

-one packet of uncooked lasagna noodles (but you'll only boil 10)

-5 slices of Field Roast Chao Cheese in Creamy Original (optional)

For the ricotta

-14 oz package of extra firm tofu, pressed and drained

-1/2 tbs olive oil

-1/4 tsp salt

-1/4 tsp dried basil

-1/4 tsp oregano

For the pesto

-1 whole avocado

-3 cups fresh basil

-3 tbs olive oil

-1/2 tbs crushed garlic

-1 tbs nutritional yeast

-a dash dried basil

-salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot, set salted water to a boil. Once the water is at a rolling boil, place three uncooked lasagna noodles in the water. Let boil for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the noodles from sticking together. While noodles are boiling, prep the ricotta. In a blender, combine the pressed and drained tofu (cut into small cubes for easier blending), olive oil, salt, dried basil, and oregano. Blend until creamy (small chunks are okay). Set aside. When the first set of noodles are done boiling, remove from water using a slatted spoon or tongs. Do not drain the pot of water! You'll use it again for your next set of noodles. Run under cold water to keep the noodles from continuing to cook. In a greased baking pan, lay the lasagna noodles flat. On each noodle, spread out two spoonfuls (about 2 tbs) of the ricotta mixture. Top with pieces of Field Roast Chao Cheese. I split a quarter of a slice of the cheese into halves for each roll up. Gently roll up the lasagna noodle. Continue this same process for the other two noodles. In the same pot of boiling water, place three more noodles. When they are done cooking, rinse and top with ricotta mixture. Follow this same procedure until you've boiled 10 noodles total and have used up all of your ricotta mixture. Place in the oven and let bake for 25 minutes.

While your roll-ups are baking, combine the pesto ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth, adding more salt and olive oil if it is necessary. 

Once the lasagna roll ups are done, set them aside to cool for about 5-6 minutes. Since the pesto's base is avocado, we want to avoid smothering it onto the roll-ups while they are still piping hot. If you don't plan on eating all of the lasagna roll-ups in one sitting, DO NOT put pesto on them. Reheating this pesto will not taste good at all! Instead, dish up the rolls and smother in pesto individually. Top with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast. Enjoy!