Homemade vegan Polenta Lasagna is warm and comforting, It’s the perfect dinner dish to cozy up to on chilly winter evenings. It’s also great for special occasions, holidays, dinner parties, and potlucks! Lasagna tastes even better the next day, so it’s a great dish to meal prep on Sunday to insure you have delicious dinners through the week. This easy recipe is vegan and gluten-free.
Vegan Polenta Lasagna
Waaaaaay back when, Dennis and I had our third date at a restaurant called Park and Orchard in Rutherford, NJ. I had eaten there several times before, but it was new to him. They had several vegan options on the menu, my favorite being a dairy-free, gluten-free lasagna made with polenta instead of noodles and tofu ricotta.
We would venture out to Park and Orchard every once in a while, but as the years went by and vegan food became easier to find, we stopped eating there as much as we used to. Still, we would still go once or a year or so, to get our polenta lasagna fix. Sadly, after many years, the restaurant changed ownership, and it wasn’t as vegan friendly as it used to be. They still had polenta lasagna on the menu, but they no loner made it vegan. (A note to restaurant owners: vegans aren’t going to frequent your establishment if the only options are side salads!) After just a short period with the new ownership, the restaurant closed for good.
Since we can no longer go out for polenta lasagna, it only makes sense that I recreated the dish at home!
Polenta is a dish that’s made from ground corn. Historically, it used to be made with other grains, like farro, millet, and chickpeas. It’s often served as a soft porridge, but if you chill or allow it to sit, it will firm up, which is what I’ve done in this recipe.
Polenta and cornmeal are similar, but they do have differences. The grind can vary, and apparently the corn used to make polenta is different from from that of cornmeal. A medium or coarse grind of cornmeal may work in this recipe, but I haven’t tried it. I suggest sticking to packaged polenta.
Polenta is often found in same aisle of the grocery store as the rice and quinoa. Sometimes it’s in the baking area with the flours. Bob’s Red Mill packages their as “Corn Grits, also known as Polenta.”
It’s super easy to make a ricotta-like “cheese” using tofu!
Make sure your tofu is drained and pressed. Then throw it into a food processor with some nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic, and basil. If you don’t have a food processor, you can mash your tofu with a potato masher or large fork. Make sure your garlic is minced to avoid large chunks of it in your ricotta.
If you’d like to keep your lasagna soy-free, you can use Cashew Ricotta instead.
How To Make Vegan Polenta Lasagna
Don’t let the long ingredient list fool you, this recipe is easy to make!
- First, you make the polenta by boiling the vegetable stock and adding the polenta to it. Cook it for about 20 minutes, whisking to prevent clumps.
- Once the polenta has cooked, you spread it out on lightly oiled baking sheets or casserole dishes and place it in the fridge for a few hours to firm up.
- When you’re ready to make your lasagna, you cook the vegetables over medium-high heat and make the tofu ricotta.
- Finally, you assemble the lasagna by spreading a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a baking dish, placing a layer of polenta on top of it, followed by the ricotta and the vegetables. Then follow up with more sauce and the rest of the polenta. And then top with the remaining sauce.
If it’s easy to handle, you can place the polenta into the baking dish as a large sheet. You can cut it into strips, about 3 or 4 inches wide and place it into the dish the way you would lasagna noodles if it seems too difficult to handle as a large sheet.
If you don’t have time to make the polenta yourself (or just don’t feel like it!), slice up tubes of pre-made polenta instead. You’ll need 2 or 3 packages it, and you’ll need to cut each one into long, thin strips, about 1/4-inch thick.
I used jarred sauce, but of course, you can make your own if you prefer.
This dish tastes even better the next day, so make sure you have leftovers!
Vegan Polenta Lasagna
For the Polenta
- 8 cups vegetable stock
- 2 cups polenta
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
For the Tofu Ricotta
- 14 ounce package of firm tofu pressed and drained
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
For the Lasagna
- 1 teaspoon neutral-flavored oil
- 1 small onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 ounces crimini or baby button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 bunch kale stems removed, coarsely chopped (about 1 pound or 6 cups)
- 3 cups tomato sauce
Make the Polenta
- Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Slowly add the polenta in a steady stream, whisking as you go to prevent any clumps. Whisk in the nutritional yeast and salt. When the polenta begins to bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low, and continue to whisk to prevent clumps. Cook for 10-20 minutes, until the mixture is thick and pulls away from the pot.
- Lightly oil two 9”x12” baking sheets or casserole dishes. Pour half the polenta into each and use a rubber spatula to even out the mixture.
- Allow the polenta to cool and then place in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.
Make the Tofu Ricotta
- In a food processor, blend together the tofu, nutritional yeast, garlic, lemon juice, basil, and salt. Process until the mixture is thick and looks like ricotta cheese. Add more vegetable broth if the mixture is too thick.
Make the Lasagna
- Preheat oven to 400°. In a large pan over medium-high heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil for about 5 minutes, until it begins to brown. Add the garlic and mushrooms, and allow to cook for about 10 more minutes, until the mushrooms release their liquid and are fragrant. Mix in the kale and cook until it wilts.
- Spoon 1/3 of the tomato sauce over the bottom of a 9”x12” baking or casserole dish. Carefully place a layer of polenta on top of the sauce. If it’s difficult to handle, cut it into four smaller pieces.
- Spread the tofu ricotta over the polenta, and top it with the vegetable mixture. Evenly pour 1/3 of the tomato sauce over the veggies.
- Carefully place the second layer of polenta on top of the lasagna, again cutting it into four pieces if necessary. Top with the rest of the sauce.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the edges of the polenta begin to brown and the sauce is bubbly.
- Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot.
Other Lasagna Recipes you might enjoy include:
- Mexican Lasagna
- Butternut Squash Lasagna
- Vegan Buffalo Chicken Lasagna
- Lasagna Soup
- Lasagna Roll Ups
- Spinach Mushroom Lasagna
- Vegan Lasagna Tart