Lasagna is just one of those meals that’s the perfect balance of comforting, filling, and delicious, and it can feed a lot of people with minimal effort.
This version is our dairy-free and gluten-free take on classic-style lasagna (we have a vegan version if that’s more your thing). And it’s about as simple as it gets, requiring just 10 ingredients to prepare. Let’s do this!
Origins of Lasagna
Perhaps like many of you, we were under the impression that lasagna originated in Italy. Turns out, its origin history is more complicated!
Some say the concept originated in ancient Greece where layered dough sheets (called laganon) were cut into strips and baked. Others claim it resembles a Roman dish recorded in a cookbook in the 1st century AD. And still others place its origin in England or Italy in the 14th century, where cookbooks describe the concept of layering cheese and pasta in a dish and baking it. (source)
But it wasn’t until the 16th century that tomato-based versions were recorded that more closely resembles today’s lasagna. These versions came from Italy. So to everyone who ever contributed to the invention of lasagna, we’re forever grateful!
How to Make Lasagna
Making lasagna is pretty straightforward in terms of assembly. But the ingredients can be swapped out for just about any dietary preference. Start by preparing your three layers:
- Sauce (ground beef or lentils + marinara + seasonings)
- Noodles (we chose Capello’s gluten-free & grain-free for this version)
- Cheese (homemade dairy-free macadamia nut or storebought)
Our sauce is prepared by sautéing garlic, red pepper flake (optional), ground beef, and salt until the meat is browned. Then add in your favorite marinara sauce and season further with optional Italian herbs and sweetener.
Next, the noodles are boiled and drained. Or — our preference — opt for no-boil gluten-free lasagna noodles such as Capello’s.
The homemade “cheese” comes next. Simply add macadamia nuts (or slivered almonds or soaked cashews) to a food processor along with lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and sea salt. Blend it up, slowly adding water until it resembles ricotta cheese! Or, sub store-bought (our favorite being Kite Hill Ricotta).
Finally, let’s layer!
How to Layer Lasagna
We like to use a little jingle to remember the order: Sauce, Noodles, Cheese. (Repeat x2).
And then on the fourth repetition: Sauce, Noodles, SAUCE!
Once you make lasagna enough times, you won’t even have to look up the order!
Then at the very end, add a sprinkle of homemade vegan parmesan cheese for even more flavor.
How Long to Bake Lasagna
To allow the flavors to develop, we like to bake the lasagna until it’s nice and bubbly with crisp edges.
Baking uncovered on the middle rack at 350 degrees F (176 C) for 40-45 minutes is perfect.
We hope you LOVE this lasagna! It’s:
& So delicious!
This lasagna is perfect for make-ahead meals, feeding a crowd, or any time you’re craving a simple, filling dinner. It’s delicious on its own, but also pairs well with salads or other greens.
What to Serve with Lasagna
- Easy Massaged Kale Salad (15 Minutes!)
- Lemony Arugula Salad with Crispy Shallot
- Simple Green Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
- Apple Pecan Arugula Salad
If you try this recipe, let us know! We love seeing your comments, ratings, and photos tagged #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
Easy Gluten-Free Lasagna (Dairy-Free!)
- 1 Tbsp avocado or olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flake (optional)
- 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
- 1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
- 2 25-oz jars favorite marinara sauce (or DIY* // we like Organico Bella brand)
- 1-2 tsp dried Italian herbs (basil and oregano // optional)
- 1-2 tsp sweetener of choice (such as maple syrup, cane sugar, or stevia // optional)
- 2 ¼ cups raw macadamia nuts (or sub slivered blanched almonds or raw cashews soaked for 1 hour in hot water, then drained)
- 3 ½ Tbsp lemon juice
- 4 Tbsp nutritional yeast (plus more to taste)
- 3/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/3 scant tsp sea salt
- 2/3 – 1 cup water (if using soaked cashews, add 1 Tbsp / 15 ml water at a time)
- 1 9-oz box gluten-free lasagna noodles (we like Capello’s brand)
FOR SERVING optional
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese
- Fresh herbs (such as basil or parsley)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C). Set out a large baking dish (9×13 inch or similar size) and lightly grease.
- Begin by preparing sauce. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, garlic, red pepper flake (optional), beef, and salt and begin sautéing, stirring occasionally for about 8 minutes, or until meat is browned. Use spoon to break meat into small pieces.
- In the meantime, if using noodles that require boiling, bring a large pot of water to a boil (if using no-boil noodles, skip this step). Once boiling, add a healthy pinch of salt and your lasagna noodles (or other pasta shape). Cook according to package instructions to achieve an al dente texture — tender with a little bite. Then drain and set aside. Optional: Drizzle pasta with a little oil to prevent sticking.
- To the pot, add your marinara sauce and stir to combine. Cook on low for about 10 minutes to marry the flavors. Then taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding salt to taste or red pepper flake for heat. You could also add dried Italian spices and/or sweetener of choice to balance the flavors at this time (optional). Turn off heat and set aside.
- Add lesser amount of water (2/3 cup or 120 ml as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size). Continue mixing, scraping down sides as needed. Then add more water — 1 Tbsp (15 ml) at a time — until a thick paste forms. I find I get the best texture results with a food processor, but a blender can work, too. It just generally requires more scraping and more liquid. For texture, you’re looking for a spreadable soft “cheese.”
- Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more nutritional yeast for cheesy flavor, salt for saltiness, lemon juice for acidity/brightness, or garlic powder for garlic flavor. Blend again to combine.
- To begin assembly, add a thin layer of marinara sauce to your baking dish. Spread to ensure even distribution. Then add a layer of the cooked pasta noodles (or uncooked noodles if using no-boil). Top with a thin layer (roughly 1/3 of the mixture) of your nut cheese and spread into an even layer.
- Add another thin layer of marinara sauce and use a spoon to spread over the cheese layer to coat. Then add another layer of noodles. Top with another 1/3 of the cheese and spread into an even layer.
- Add another layer of marinara sauce and spread into an even layer. Then top with another layer of noodles and remaining 1/3 of the cheese, and spread into an even layer. Top with another layer of marinara sauce and spread into an even layer.
- Top with another layer of noodles and, finally, remaining sauce. Optional: Top with a sprinkle of vegan parmesan cheese.
- Cook on the middle rack of your preheated oven for 40-45 minutes uncovered, or until the sauce is bubbly and/or the edges are browned.
- Carefully remove from the oven and let cool 5-10 minutes before serving. Then slice, serve, and enjoy. We recommend garnishing with additional vegan parmesan cheese and fresh chopped basil or parsley. See notes for freezing instructions.*
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with Capello’s lasagna noodles and without optional ingredients.