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Getting to the Meat of the Matter: Meaty Spinach Pesto Lasagna

[Thanks, everyone, for your patience while my blog was undergoing some changes.  They’re all done now–and I’m happy to offer you all a “print recipe” button so you don’t have to copy and paste any more!  There are also more user-friendly subscribe buttons and comment threads.  What do you think of them?  And thanks again for all the great work, Alvin!]


One of the cardinal rules when throwing a dinner party is “don’t serve your guests a recipe you’ve never made before.”  (Also, “don’t wear white when you’ll be cooking with beets”;  “don’t seat ex-spouses next to each other at the table”; “don’t make Baked Alaska in July”; and “don’t leave the house without clean underwear”–oh, wait, that’s a different cardinal rule).

This past Saturday evening, I had the pleasure of cooking dinner for my friend Eternal Optimist and her friend.  So what do you suppose I did, friends?  Yep, exactly that; I served up something I had never made before.  I wasn’t truly cheating on the  rule, though, since I’d already cooked and eaten each of the dish’s components individually and knew they were, on their own, spectacular. 

What did I serve?  Why, the old classic: that Romance-infused, saucy, cheesy, meaty, stratified seductress, lasagna.

For the most part, I’m a pretty lazy cook.  I prefer meals that are ready before I can say, “Elsie and Chaser, get out of the kitchen,” and I don’t enjoy multiple steps or extremely detailed instructions.  Desserts and cooking for others is the exception, however. 

When I used to throw a bazillion dinner parties during my Social Thirties, I’d spend almost the entire weekend cooking and didn’t mind a bit.  Getting lost in the  whir of the electric beaters as I whipped cream for a multi-layered meringue-and-buttercream affair, or methodically chopping six onions for various dishes, or zoning out to the crackling sizzle of veggies sautéeing always felt therapeutic to me.  And while I’m not keen on lengthy preparation during the regular work week, when I whip up a special-request meal for the HH (for his birthday, or to say thanks for walking the dogs twice a day when my back is out, or to show my appreciation when he picks up baking ingredients from my favorite supplier, or to express gratitude for cleaning the house when friends are coming over–whoah, wait a sec, that HH sure does do a lot for me!), well, then a longer and more complicated process is even welcomed.  

I’ll tell you straight off the bat, this lasagna falls into the “food-of-many-components” category.  It’s not difficult per se, but it does contain many layers, and each layer requires its own prep.  If you happen to have prepared marinara sauce at the ready (or a good jarred type you like), prepared pesto, and meat in the freezer, then you can throw it together in no time, and there’s no worr–


Did I just say, “MEAT”???!!!!

Now, now, calm down, people!  It may look like meat, and it may taste like meat, but it is not meat.  It is faux meat. This latest meaty substitute is just SO authentic, both in look and in flavor, that I simply forgot to specify–it’s entirely vegan! And SOY-FREE!

After creating a killer soy-free faux pepperoni a while back, I’ve been thinking about other ways to use vegetable bases to stand in for meat.  It’s not that I’ve hopped on the “soy-is-no-good-soy-is-awful-soy-is-the-Lucifer-of-legumes” bandwagon or anything; it’s just that, sometimes, you want something that isn’t soy. Especially with this lasagna (since it already contains tofu in the ricotta cheese), I wanted a no-soy “ground beef.” And so, this ground meat was born.

When I served the HH a big hunk of the lasagna, his immediate response was, “Ths turstes jess lak urrglrr lrzgne.”  (He was so impressed he forgot to swallow before speaking).  To translate, “This tastes just like regular lasagna.”  Whoopee! Considering that he consumes “regular” lasagna about once a month, his was high praise, indeed.  

I’m incredibly pleased with this vegan meat, and am already dreaming up different uses for it.  Scattered on nachos.  Bound together with some flax eggs and cooked as burgers.  Atop a huge mound of spaghetti arrabiata.  Or even as the base in a vegan tortiere, like so:

The possibilities are endless. . . my head is spinning with dinner party plans already.  Because, after all, the true cardinal rule is this: if it tastes great, eat it.

Mum, are you sure that isn’t real meat?  We’d be happy to help you taste-test your recipes.  As you know, the cardinal rule for canines is, ‘if it’s not poisonous, eat it.’  Oh, wait, we might eat it anyway, even when it is poisonous. But don’t worry, I won’t go near that chocolate again.” 

This recipe is my submission this week to Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays event.  Head on over to see what other healthy dishes are posted!

Last Year at this Time: Grilled Avocado on “Toast”

Two Years Ago: Mrs. K’s Date Cake (not an ACD-friendly recipe)

© 2010 Diet, Dessert and Dogs


109 comments to Getting to the Meat of the Matter: Meaty Spinach Pesto Lasagna

  • Mare

    OOoooo raviloli…hat a fab idea!!


    Mare Reply:



    Ricki Reply:

    Thanks so much! It’s one of my favorite dishes, too. 🙂


  • […] remembering a wild rice mushroom dish my mom made one year at Christmas, and then thinking of Ricki’s Mock Meat Made with Cauliflower and Walnuts, which she had suggested making with parsnips.  Then I remembered Gena’s Meaty Wild Rice […]

  • […] when I came across this recipe for meatless meaty lasagna using cauliflower and walnuts as the ‘meat’, I jumped up and down then bookmarked it for a later day.  And that day was […]

  • Hi Ricki, thanks for stopping by on my blog 🙂 Your comment there made me realise I’d forgotten to add an update! The lasagna tasted even better the next day and scored thumbs up from people I gave it to. Initially the walnut flavour stood out to me (probably because I prefer pecans used this way) but after a day they were absolutely just right and I was pleased to have lots of leftovers to myself 🙂 I’ve only just discovered your blog and taking note of so many fabulous looking things!


    Ricki Reply:

    Thanks so much! And thanks for stopping back to let me know how it worked out. So glad you liked it! 🙂


  • Hi again, I used your ‘meat’ in my vegan moussaka and it was delicious 🙂


    Ricki Reply:

    Yay! So glad to hear that! I’ve been wanting to try a moussaka with it, so glad it worked out! Did you post the recipe somewhere? 🙂


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