Sunday, 2 June 2013

Vegan tempeh and pumpkin lasagna

Before blogging, I had a way of making lasagne that worked really well for me.  Since beginning blogging I have had a number of vegetarian lasagnes that are just brilliant.  I love a lasagne that is full of vegetables but not too rich and creamy.  But I sometimes miss the meaty lasagnes that my mum made me as a child.  This tempeh lasagne with cashew cream sauce from Tofu for Two was all I love in a lasagne today and all I loved in a lasagne as a child.  Except there was no meat and no cheese.

The meatiness came from the tempeh crumbles that were then doused in soy sauce and liquid smoke.  I don't use tempeh a lot.  Sometimes it is brilliant but other times it can be too stodgy and the flavour is all wrong.  I was a bit wary of this recipe as a result.  Now I am just sorry I waited so long to make it.  These tempeh crumbles were so good that I will consider using this part of the recipe as a meat substitute for other dishes. 

I made some serendipitous changes to Tofu for Two's recipe.  I bought a whole Kent pumpkin recently so I threw in some roasted pumpkin.  We also had some fresh basil and not much milk.  Hence both my tempeh filling and my cashew cream sauce were much thicker than intended in the original recipe.  Next time I would make both a bit less thick.

Tofu for Two uses the European measurement "dl" which I found a bit confusing so I checked out Cindy and Michael's version which had measurements from my own patch.

The other element which really added to the meal was Sylvia.  Unfortunately the dish took quite some time to prepare so she at her dinner earlier.  By the time dinner was ready there wasn't time to eat before she went to bed.  Hence I left the lasagne to sit for an hour after taking it out of the oven.  I am sure it helped, especially with the cheeze sauce topping which changed from a-bit-too-crispy-and-dried to being soft-and-a-little-chewy.

I waited till E had taken a few bites to check what he thought.  Brilliant.  He said his dad would love it.  When I told him it was vegan, he didn't flinch.  He likes a vegan lasagne as much as I do.  I confess I love grated cheese on my lasagne.  This one was so good that I didn't miss the grated cheese at all.  It was so tasty, hearty, meaty, creamy that I was totally satisfied.  Definitely a keeper.

I am sending this lasagne to Karen of Lavender and Lovage for Pasta Please, the event that Jac coordinates.  This month the theme is nuts.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Lentil Quinoa Stew
Two years ago: Shoots, Eats and Blogs (Top 10 List)
Three years ago: Mock Tuna (Chickpea) Salad
Four years ago: Apricot Crumble: a moveable feast
Five years ago: Bagels, Boiling and Baking

Tempeh and pumpkin lasagna with cashew cream sauce
Adapted from Tofu for Two
Serves 6

Tempeh filling:
2-3 tbsp olive oil
300g tempeh
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 finely chopped onion
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
680ml jar of passata
2 cups diced and roasted pumpkin
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
handful fresh basil leaves

Cashew cream sauce
1 cup raw cashews
100ml soy milk
1 1/2 tablespoons nuttalex margarine
1 heaped dessertspoon wholemeal flour
500 ml soy milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
juice of 1/2 medium lemon 
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper

250g large instant lasagne sheets
handful baby spinach leaves, chopped

To make tempeh filling (tomato sauce):
Pat as much moisture out of tempeh with a paper towel and crumble tempeh into small pieces.  Heat 1 to 2 tbsp of oil on a heavy-based non-stick frypan and fry tempeh pieces until dry, separated and golden brown (about 10 to 15 minutes).  Stir in the soy sauce and liquid smoke.  Mine soaked up straight away but Tofu for Two says it takes a few minutes.  Set tempeh crumbles aside in bowl.

Heat about a tablespoon of oil in the frypan used for the tempeh.  Fry onion for about 10 minutes or until well cooked.  Stir through garlic.  Add passata, maple syrup, salt and pepper.  Bring to boil and simmer a few minutes.  Add pumpkin and tempeh.  Mine really thickened when I added these.  Next time I might add a bit of water at this point to make the sauce thicker.  Scatter with basil.  Set sauce aside.

To make cashew cream sauce:
Blend cashews and 100ml soy milk.  Meanwhile melt margarine in a medium saucepan.  Stir in wholemeal flour and stir over heat for a few minutes until it browns slightly.  Stir in remaining ingredients until thickened.

To assemble lasagne:
Spread a small amount of tomato sauce on the bottom of a rectangular lasagne dish.  Lay first layer of lasagne sheets on top.  Spread with one quarter of tomato sauce.  Layer with lasagne sheets, tomato sauce and cream sauce, then lasagne sheets, tomato sauce, chopped spinach, then lasagne sheets, tomato sauce and cream sauce, then lasagne sheets and cream sauce.  (I was miserly with the cream sauce in the layers with the tomato sauce and generous with the cream sauce on the top.)  Bake until the lasagne sheets feel soft and cooked when a knife is stuck into the lasagne.  It took me 1 hour at 220 C.

On the stereo:
Blue - Joni Mitchell


  1. Looks fabulous! I've not made lasange for ages. You've reminded me I must make the effort to make it.
    I'm loving pumpkin anything at the moment.

    1. Thanks Katie - it is the first time I have made lasagne for ages - this one is so good I want to make it over and over

  2. We love this recipe and still make it often, especially when we have a particularly carnivorous guest to cater for!

    1. Thanks Cindy - I can imagine it would satisfy the canrivores because it is one of the best meat substitutes I have come across

  3. You know I still haven't tried tempeh? My husband loathes it that even mentioning the word creates such a reaction in it that I've never bought it. We had lots of tofu growing up but never tempeh!

    1. Thanks Lorraine - I would highly recommend trying this one if you wanted to try tempeh - sometimes it can be mushy and horrid but it works brilliantly here - I am always excited to come across a good tempeh recipe as it is such a hit and miss ingredient

  4. I have never seen tempeh round here, despite the 3 major supermarkets we have in our small town but must remember this if I ever see it, it sounds lovely!

    1. Thanks Feisty - there are times I find tempeh hard to find and other times where it seems to be everywhere - hope you find it as this is a great recipe

  5. I adore this recipe! It restored my faith in veg lasagnes and also provided me with a way to enjoy tempeh so I haven't bothered with other lasagne recipes since trying this. I haven't made it with pumpkin as we aren't huge pumpkin fans but I usually add some diced veg (carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant) into the tempeh sauce.

    1. Thanks Mel - I can see why you would be happy to just eat this lasagne and not try others - it is probably the best vegan lasagne recipe I have tried

  6. Not being a cheesey or creamy sauces person, I just want to dive into the tempeh crumbles. Mmm.

    1. Thanks Hannah - the tempeh crumbles are so good - I tried a tempeh crumbles gravy (from vegan with a vengeance) once and wasn't so impressed but I think I would like to try again in case I just didn't cook the tempeh enough back then

  7. This looks really nice! I want to try making lasagna with vegetable "sheets" (eggplant slices or something) and a legume-based filling. Pumpkin and spinach should be in there for sure! :D

    1. Thanks Kath - I have tried lasagna once with zucchini sheets - it wasn't brilliant but I would like to try it again with another filling

  8. I made this two nights ago (with slight adjustments to make it gluten free) and it was so delicious thanks for sharing this recipe.

    1. Thanks Tash - glad you enjoyed it and good to hear that it can convert to gluten free easily

  9. I absolutely LOVE this and as my parents are vegetarian, I MUST make this for them; it looks packed full of flavour and with that all enticing ingredient, NUTS! Thanks so much for entering this amazing pasta dish into Pasta Please, it's a lovely recipe and blog post! Karen

    1. Thanks Karen - hope your folks enjoy it - in fact I hope they go nuts for it - ha ha!

  10. You know, I have never made lasagna. I'm not quite sure how that's possible, but it's true! My Mum had a great vegetarian one I enjoyed growing up, that wasn't too cheesey, but somehow I've never felt the need to experiment myself. You might have sparked some motivation to do so though.

    1. Thanks Kari - even if you don't try the lasagna - i highly recommend this as a way to cook tempeh - but of course I love lasagne so I hope you will make it

  11. I'll have to try this - have struggled to find a good dairy free lasagne (veggie or meat!) and this looks like it might tick the right boxes. I'm hosting Pasta Please for July, and it's another vegan friendly theme - Cheeseless Wonders! Hope you can find time to join in :-)


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