Friday, May 20, 2011

Sweet Potato Lasagna

“Normalizing” vegan food is one of my favorite things.

I always say how often people get scared of what vegan food is. I had someone ask me once, “Did you try the food before you decided to go vegan?”

Why, yes. I have eaten a vegetable before.

Normalizing vegan food to me is about making things that don’t sound odd or scary to non vegans. I guess people get freaked out by words like seitan and tempeh. If you say tofu; it usually equals an instant nose scrunch.  That would never stop me from making it; I might just conveniently avoid saying it… (CV Disclaimer: Please tell me if you have a soy allergy. I don’t want you kicking it at my next chubby party)

This recipe is from one of the kings of normalizing vegan foods, VILF Rip Esselstyn. Rip is the author of the Engine 2 Diet, which is an excellent book detailing how a vegan diet dramatically improved the health of a group of firefighters in Austin, TX. The stories in his book are great and the recipes are all really simple and sound delicious! The book is a great gift for someone who is thinking of “easing" into a vegan diet.

If health reasons turn the switch to a plant based diet for someone, I will take it!

This lasagna is big and unbelievably hearty. There are just so many vegetables in it; I don’t even know what to do with myself. Make this… Now!

Recipe after the jump…

Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Lasagna
 1 onion, chopped
 1 small head garlic, all cloves chopped or pressed
 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
 1 head broccoli, chopped
 2 carrots, chopped
 2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
 1 can corn, drained
 1 package Silken Lite tofu
 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
 1 teaspoon oregano
 1 teaspoon basil
 1 teaspoon rosemary
 2 jars vegan pasta sauce
 2 boxes whole grain lasagna noodles
 16 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained
 2 sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
 6 Roma tomatoes, sliced thin
 1 cup raw cashews, ground (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Sauté onions and garlic on high heat for 3 minutes in a wok or nonstick pan. Add mushrooms, and cook until onions are limp and mushrooms give up their liquid. Remove them to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Reserve mushroom liquid in pan.

Sauté broccoli and carrots for 5 minutes, and add to mushroom bowl. Sauté peppers and corn until they begin to soften. Add to the vegetable bowl. Drain the tofu by wrapping in paper towels. Break it up directly in the towel and mix into the vegetable bowl. Add spices to vegetable bowl and combine.


Cover the bottom of a 9- by 13-inch casserole dish with a layer of sauce. Add a layer of noodles. Cover the noodles with sauce. This way the noodles cook in the oven, saving time and energy.

Spread the vegetable mixture over the sauced noodles. Cover with a layer of noodles and another dressing of sauce. Add the spinach to the second layer of sauced noodles. Cover the spinach with the mashed sweet potatoes. Add another layer of sauce, the final layer of noodles, and a last topping of sauce. Cover the lasagna with thinly sliced Roma tomatoes. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

 Remove foil, sprinkle with cashews, and return to the oven for 15 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Chubby Vegan Notes
  • Use a big skillet or work, you will need it!
  • This literally towers out of the baking pan, hence “raise the roof.”
  • I loved this but I think it was missing a little bit of heat. Don’t be afraid to add a little more spice or have the hot sauce on hand. My oven temperature is a little wonky too, so I might not have left it in as long as I should have.
  • The recipe calls for a cup of cashews, but I used about half of that.
  • I generally don’t buy no-boil lasagna noodles, but I am sure they are fine with this. I only ended up using 1 ½ boxes of noodles and not a full two boxes.
  • Feel free to experiment with what vegetables you include in this. This lasagna is definitely not an exact science and I think you could take a couple of liberties with it. No lasagna police here…
  • Invite friends over for this, it serves at least 6 big (chubby) eaters.
  • Visit my facebook page for more pictures...


  1. That sounds delicious! I think I may need to try a variation of that soon :)

  2. It is really awesome! Let me know if you do try it, I would love to hear what you think!

  3. Made it tonight and everyone loved it!

  4. I made this after seeing it on the Engine 2 documentary. It was pretty darn tasty.

  5. I just made this for dinner tonight. My meat eating hubby has agreed to do the plant-based, whole-foods diet for a month. He loved this lasagna. He even helped in the prep work. It's a great start!

  6. I prepared this for my (non-vegan) family for Easter Sunday was a lot of chopping and preparation work, but the results were great! Everyone loved it and ate until they were full...and we still have leftovers for lunch the next day! Will be making this one in the near future.

    PS. I heeded your warning about the dish missing a bit of heat, so I doubled your recommended dose of cayenne pepper and also i sprinkled salt and pepper on top of the sweet potato layer (I thought it's curious that your recipe makes no mention of S&P). The heat level was absolutely perfect, a bit of spicy aftertaste in the back of the throat but completely enjoyable.


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