The dilemma: We want the luxurious, comforting taste of lasagna without having to turn on a stovetop and an oven to make it. The solution? Nisha Vora’s Instant Pot vegetable lasagna, from her new cookbook, The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook: Wholesome, Indulgent Plant-Based Recipes.
Here, the Instant Pot does more than cut down on cooking time (although that’s certainly a plus). For starters, there’s the shape. “The look of a round layered lasagna is unique and eye-catching,” Vora explains. And since everything happens in one appliance, you won’t heat up the entire house while channeling your inner nonna. “You can enjoy lasagna in the summer without turning on your oven,” she says.
Oh, and did we mention it’s vegan to boot? You’re welcome.
From The Vegan Instant Pot® Cookbook: Wholesome, Indulgent Plant-Based Recipes by Nisha Vora, published by Avery, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2019 by Nisha Vora.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup finely chopped zucchini
¾ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped mushrooms
⅓ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
One 14-ounce block extra-firm tofu
¼ cup nutritional yeast
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons white or yellow miso paste
¾ teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
15 fresh basil leaves
1½ teaspoons grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1½ cups marinara sauce
6 to 8 individual no-boil or oven-ready lasagna sheets (such as Barilla brand)
1 cup chopped spinach or shredded Tuscan (lacinato) kale
½ cup shredded vegan mozzarella, for finishing (optional)
1. Make the Vegetable Filling: Select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and, after a few minutes, add the olive oil, followed by the onion. Cook the onion for 3 minutes, then add the garlic, zucchini, bell pepper and mushrooms. Cook for an additional 3 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the garlic from burning.
2. Add the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir the mixture to combine and cook for 30 seconds. Select the Cancel setting and remove the inner pot.
3. Make the Basil Ricotta: Drain the tofu and blot away the excess water with a few paper towels. For a smooth ricotta, crumble the tofu into the bowl of a food processor. Add the nutritional yeast, garlic, miso, onion powder, salt, pepper, olive oil, basil, lemon zest and lemon juice and blend it until you have a creamy, smooth texture. Taste the mixture for salt, acidity and cheesiness, adding more salt, lemon juice or nutritional yeast, respectively, as needed.
4. For a chunkier ricotta, place the tofu in a large bowl and break it into smaller chunks using a fork. Add the remaining ingredients and mix together until the consistency resembles ricotta cheese.
5. Assemble the Lasagna: In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine the marinara sauce with ½ cup water (to equal 2 cups), stirring well. (Thinning the sauce with water ensures the noodles will cook evenly.)
6. Pour ½ cup of the marinara sauce into a 7-inch springform pan and use a spatula to spread it evenly. Top the sauce with half of the oven-ready lasagna noodles, breaking them into pieces and fitting them to cover the sauce in a mosaic-like pattern.
7. Add another ½ cup of the marinara sauce on top of the noodles. Using a spatula, spread a third of the basil ricotta on top of the marinara sauce, followed by half of the vegetable filling and half of the spinach or kale.
8. Repeat the layers, adding ½ cup of the marinara sauce followed by a third of the basil ricotta, the remaining vegetable filling and the remaining spinach or kale. Finish with the remaining noodles (broken into pieces), marinara sauce and basil ricotta. (If you can’t fit all of the lasagna noodles, just leave a few pieces out. You don’t want to layer them on top of each other because that might cause them to cook unevenly.) Spray a piece of foil with nonstick cooking spray and tightly cover the springform pan.
9. Cook the Lasagna: Clean the Instant Pot’s inner pot to remove any remaining vegetables or oil. Add 1½ cups water to the inner pot.
10. On the counter, place the springform pan on top of the Instant Pot’s steamer rack (with the handles facing up) and carefully lower the steamer rack and pan into the inner pot using the steamer rack handles. Secure the lid and set the pressure release to Sealing. Select the Pressure Cook (manual) setting at High Pressure and set the cook time to 20 minutes.
11. Once the timer goes off, allow a natural pressure release. (If you want to broil the lasagna in your oven, now’s the time to turn on your oven’s broiler.) Open the pot and, wearing oven mitts, carefully grasp the steamer rack handles and lift the pan out of the Instant Pot. Carefully remove the foil cover, taking care not to drip any condensation onto the lasagna.
12. If desired, top the lasagna with the ½ cup shredded vegan mozzarella and place the lasagna under the broiler for 1 to 3 minutes (depending on the strength of your broiler and the distance between the heat and oven rack) to brown the top. You can also broil the lasagna without adding the vegan mozzarella. Garnish with fresh basil.