Soy Free, Dairy Free, but still Decadent Cheesy Spinach Lasagna

platelasagna.jpg Although I’m not dairy intolerant, lately I’ve been trying to cut back on dairy for various reasons, and so I’ve been thinking about dairy substitutes. Most dairy free, gluten free manufactured cheeses are pretty gross, and so I am usually more inclined to try creative vegan recipes for “uncheese” when looking for a cheese substitute. I’ve tried tofu based “cheeses”, almond or cashew based “cheeses”, and recipes that rely on nutritional yeast. They can sometimes be quite good, and tofu ricotta can come close to the “real” thing. But, what if you’re soy intolerant or just don’t want to eat soy every day? Lately I’ve been interested in Raw Foods, not because I necessarily find cold, uncooked food that enticing, but because I think they take some really novel approaches with their ingredients and preparation methods. The other day I was thinking about a substitute for ricotta and found this recipe for a pine nut based ricotta “cheese” ala Raw Food, and decided to whip some up. I didn’t use it right away, but last night I was about to use it on some brown rice pasta when I remembered this homemade bean flour pasta I had in the freezer. Hmmm… I was inspired, suddenly, to throw together some pine nut ricotta lasagna! I boiled the pasta, layered it with pasta sauce (regrettably green olive sauce, but what can ya do), spinach, and pine nut ricotta. sliverlasagna.jpgI put it in the oven for half an hour and then served myself up some uber decadent, deliciously dairy free but yet magically cheesy lasagna. The homemade lasagna noodles didn’t hurt either, although next time I would ideally use egg free pasta. (Ener-g foods white rice lasagna would be good, as far as premade pasta goes.) My verdict? Probably the “cheesiest” dairy free lasagna I’ve ever had. It was plate licking good. I know pine nuts are expensive, so in the future I may try mixing cashews or almonds in with the pine nuts- but since I had a large bag from Costco, I went for the full pignoli experience. If you’ve been dying for cheesy Italian yumminess and just happen to have some pine nuts lurking in the wings, you should definitely give this recipe a try! And if you’re feeling REALLY crazy, you could even try the Raw Food Version in the above link or check out the recipes in the critically acclaimed book, Raw Food, Real World.

packedlasagna.jpg wholelasagna.jpg

Lemon Pignoli Ricotta Spinach Lasagna
12 homemade or store bought GF lasagna noodles
1 cup Pasta Sauce
1 cup (or to taste) frozen spinach leaves, defrosted and patted dry

1 cup raw pignoli nuts, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 375.

Boil lasagna noodles until al dente. Prepare ingredients.
For “Ricotta”
Blend ingredients and use in recipe as substitute for ricotta. It can sit overnight in the refrigerator to good effect. When ready to use, add water until it achieves a ricotta texture.

Assemble lasagna in layers of pasta sauce, pasta, “ricotta”, and some spinach. Repeat. End with ricotta.

Bake for 30 minutes or until “ricotta” is slightly brown and bubbly.

I used homemade bean flour lasagna noodles a la Bette Hagman, but I think a more neutral, egg free lasagna would be better- try white rice/tapioca starch.

This satisfies any cheese craving, with none of the cheese or soy for those who are dairy and/or soy intolerant. It is also really yummy!

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43 Responses to “Soy Free, Dairy Free, but still Decadent Cheesy Spinach Lasagna”

  1. I can’t believe it – a “cheesy” recipe for us dairy/soy free people! Thank you so much.

  2. Hi Tracy! You are quite welcome. It was a spur of the moment thing too, not even part of my weekly menu- I’ve been craving “cheesy” Italian food like crazy. Thank you for leaving a comment!

  3. no way! I am SO making this over the weekend. Thanks a million for this recipe – i have really been missing lasagna lately!

  4. Hi Gaile! Thank you for commenting. I think this recipe would also be good with some dairy free pesto, maybe with almonds instead of pine nuts so as to not go on pine nut overload- you can find the recipe under recipes-sauces. I hope you enjoy the lasagna! It did get thumbs up from DH, who sometimes balks at vegan dishes, so I think it’s pretty accessible. :)

  5. this looks delicious! i can’t wait to try it out!

  6. that looks awesome. do you have a recipe for this homemade bean flour pasta? I’ve been living on tinkyada, which is good, but I’d love some homemade lasagna. yum.

  7. I’ve made this twice since you first posted it, and I know we’re all going to be craving it again soon. Thanks!


  8. Hi Pam! I’m so glad this recipe worked for your family and that you enjoyed it. Thanks for the comment- you made my day! :)

  9. [...] But- how about the food? As you know, I’m actually quite intrigued by Raw, Vegan food. I haven’t seriously considered it as a lifestyle choice because it is both time consuming and has its own limitations as I think any strict dietary system does, but I think that raw and vegan chefs have a lot in common with gluten free chefs as we all must confront our ideas about ingredients and how food “should” be constructed. I also think that those who are gluten free and dairy intolerant or egg intolerant can get a lot of interesting ideas from vegan and raw cooking methods and ingredients, and I have been inspired by many vegan cookbooks, although I’ve barely begun experimenting with raw foods. (And yes, I realize I BAKED my only experiment, thus negating it as an authentic Raw foods experiment, haha.) On this visit, on the recommendation of our waitperson, I ordered “I AM GENEROUS guacamole -Authentic guacamole and spicy tomato salsa with live flax chips” ($7) and his personal favorite “*I AM PASSIONATE marinara pizza – Rich sun dried tomato marinara sauce, olive tapenade and fresh basil.” ($10) The chips and guacamole came first. The guacamole was indeed very, very good- creamy and flavorful without having any dominant, cloying flavors. The flax crackers were crunchy and light and I liked them well enough but am not a huge fan of flax crackers in general. Also, there weren’t enough for the guacamole so we ended up eating some spoonfuls of just guacamole. We could have ordered more crackers, but by the time the option came up, it was a bit late and we didn’t want to spend any more. [...]

  10. [...] More GF Pasta Recipes: And if you’re in the mood for pasta, but not for this recipe, why not try my other vegan, gluten free pasta recipe? Dairy Free, Soy Free Cheesy Lasagna [...]

  11. [...] I recently.organized my kitchen cupboards and came across some Chebe Pizza Mix that I had ordered in a sampler pack from Chebe but never tried. Pizza sounded awfully good, but somehow I didn’t want any old regular pizza. I wanted something… different. As you know, lately I’ve been grilling everything that grows in dirt (zucchini, fennel, onions, you name it, I’ve grilled it), and somehow this came together in my mind with my veggie pizza experience at the Farmer’s Kitchen Cafe. That pizza was piled high with vegetables that I never would have expected on a pizza. I decided to test the limits of pizza myself. Initially I planned to make a vegan topping of roasted eggplant and mayonnaise, and went so far as to blend it up in my food processor. Unfortunately, when I tasted it, I decided that the flat flavor of vegannaise mayonnaise just wasn’t going to work on its own, and I didn’t have enough basil to whip up some vegan pesto. So, I dipped into the refrigerator to use up some leftover cheese. I decided to mix lowfat mixed cheese blend and smoked fontina in order to create maximum flavor while still keeping the dish as healthy as possible. I prepared my veggies on the grill. Keep in mind we live on the second story of an apartment and I usually cook late in the evening. It’s almost always dark by the time I’m at the grill, but a teal blue Chinese lantern illuminates the grill, and I rather like the idea that I’m grilling by moonlight. Our neighbors must think we’re really weird though, for grilling (quietly) so late at night. Anyway, although this was the first time I had used the official Chebe pizza crust mix, I was happily very impressed with the results. The pizza was easy to roll out, as are all their products, and it puffed up a lot in the oven. (Although it later deflated.) I did need to transfer the pizza to a pizza stone halfway through the cooking process, as otherwise the crust would have gotten somewhat soggy by the time it was served. I also made sure to put it on a cooling rack after it was baked in order to retain maximum crispness. And the verdict? Both DH and I were thrilled with our pizza. I think he was secretly doing a happy dance that I had used real cheese for once, and we were both surprised and impressed with the smokiness added to the flavor by the fontina cheese. Somehow the combination of ingredients harmonized to create a really pleasing, delicious dish. For those of you who can’t have dairy, don’t despair. I do think that my eggplant/mayo pizza topping could work, especially if you use a homemade mayonnaise or egg mayonnaise. Pesto will also up the yum factor. If you don’t want to try the mayonnaise topping, you could also try thepine nut “ricotta” I used for lasagna. (Tastes great raw OR baked!) Adding smoked tofu or tofu pups would add a smoky note that could really take this recipe to another level, vegan or no. But regardless of the cheese- definitely try some grilled veggies on your pizza. It might not be “traditional” but it tastes absolutely divine, and made me think that this pizza was the best I’d ever had. And, as a happy bonus, you can serve the leftover grilled veggies as a side to the pizza! [...]

  12. [...] Want to see my other homemade pasta recipes? Gluten-Free Fresh Herb and Ricotta Ravioli Recipe Gluten Free Vegan Lasagna with Pine Nut Ricotta [...]

  13. [...] Lately I’ve been in the mood for homemade pasta, and went through a lovely homemade pumpkin ravioli phase. Then I started thinking that it had been quite a while since I last made homemade lasagna with fresh noodles. The last time I did, I discovered my favorite cheese substitute- pine nut ricotta. But usually when I go to all the trouble to make pasta from scratch and use our pasta machine, I turn it into ravioli. This time I thought it would be fun to deliberately go all out and make a roasted pumpkin, vegan lasagna. My Mom’s visiting, and although she’s not gluten-free, she does try to limit her carbs and she is soy and dairy intolerant, so I thought it would be nice to make a “cheezey” lasagna for her. The resulting lasagna was quite delicious. I made two versions of this recipe- one, the vegan Mom-friendly recipe, and another non-vegan recipe for me and DH, using ricotta instead of the vegan bechamel sauce and the pine nut “ricotta.” They were both good, but you know, I almost think that I enjoyed the vegan lasagna the most. Mom has a garlic allergy, so I avoided using garlic, but next time I think that I’d add some slow roasted, mashed garlic to the pumpkin… Mmmm… So who says you can’t enjoy lasagna when you’re dairy-free, soy-free, and gluten-free? Nobody in our house! Why not try your own allergy friendly lasagna today? [...]

  14. I made stuffed shells last night with your ricotta recipe, and it was amazing!! I’m posting a recipe on my blog about it. Can I put up your ricotta recipe (with a link to you, of course)

    Thanks for sharing it! I can’t wait to make it again!

  15. I’m going to try this soon. My daughter and friend are both dairy/soy intolerant so it would be a good thing to make to have her over that everyone would hopefully like. Thanks!!

  16. [...] Fidgety Budgie) had to cut out cheese, which may explain why she loves this pine nut ricotta recipe so much. In fact, it has graced her kitchen three times in the last 6 weeks in lasagna as well as [...]

  17. [...] one of my experiments: A Pine nut Un-cheese recipe inspired by Raw foods (yes, I broke the rules and heated it, but you don’t have [...]

  18. I just have to say that this recipe is SO GOOD!!! Even if you just use store bought organic sauce and store bought GF noodles, it is AMAZING! The Pine nut cheese is awesome! Who knew? I make this all the time now!

  19. [...] pine nut cheese recipe OR a tofu vegan ricotta [...]

  20. Okay, NOW I know what I can put in my gluten-free giant pasta shells I bought last week! Yay! Thanks for posting this recipe–looks great. (Now to find gluten-free nutritional yeast. . . .)

  21. This looks really good! I’m gonna put the cheese on a pizza.

  22. [...] instead of an ordinary roux, I made a rice milk roux for the diary free version and then added my pine nut un-cheese. It was yummy, but the DH wasn’t buying the squash part, even with his cheesy [...]

  23. Oh wow. Now I am going to have to hunt down some good tasting GF vegan lasagne pasta. I haven’t had lasagne in YEARS!! Afer I find that pasta and the next time I have some extra grocery$$ for pine nuts (I usually use them sparingly sprinkle in my daily salads) I am definitely treating myself to lasgne! YumYum.

    My recent great experiment was with using chickpea socca as a pizza base with roasted veggies and Follow Your Heart vegan soy cheese. OMG. It was so good. I have perfected a wonderful individual serving recipe of socca for my single self. I roasted thin slices of garden fresh baby zucchini along with red onion, slices of homegrown garlic, red bell peppers.
    Instead of pizza sauce I slathered the socca with rounds of little juicy roma type tomatoes fresh from the garden. On top of that I put grated mozarella (vegan) then the oven roasted veggies, then topped that with grated cheddar (vegan).

    This was also after years of no pizza. I was in heaven. My individual socca recipe is very easy. If you want it, just email me.

  24. Hi H,
    Your pizza sounds delish! I’ve been making By the Bay’s socca for a while now- it’s just right for me and the DH. :) What do you put in yours?
    I don’t think I’ve ever found a non-vegan pre-made lasagna pasta… they all tend to be just flour and water. Homemade is a different matter, but they can be vegan if you wish. I bet Egg Replacer would work well in most recipes. For pre-made…De Bolles is good if you don’t want to boil it, and otherwise both Tinkyada and Ener-g Foods have lasagna pasta that is boiled. Hope you get to try it! I buy my pine nuts at Costco (I don’t have a membership but my friend does) and they are much cheaper that way. The little bags are terribly pricey, even at Trader joe’s. :(

    Hope you enjoy the recipe!


  25. Christie Craigie-Carter Says:

    Wow! I finally got around to trying this tonight and even my non-GF child loved it and asked for seconds. I felt “normal” again!

    Dd still discovered the spinach and picked it out, but you can’t have everything. She happily gobbled up the rest! My only problem now is that I don’t have enough left for a full leftover day!

    If you do experiment with cashews, I’d love to hear how it works.

    Thanks again for making those less adventurous folks a little more sane!


  26. [...] grilled Chebe. I found this pine nut ricotta from a raw recipe long ago, and decided to use it in a baked pine-nut lasagna. It’s an especially nice recipe for those who must avoid soy as well as dairy (and gluten). [...]

  27. Hi – thanks for posting this. I want to make my sister some lagasna for christmas, but she is nursing, and the baby doesn’t react well to soy or dairy! My poor sister has been missing both so much! This is perfect!

  28. Thank you so much for this amazing recipe!!! I made it at literally the last minute for a holiday party, and it was delicious! I prefer the “cheesy” part from the pinenuts to soy cheese.

  29. this looks so good. thank you so much for this wonderful recipe!

  30. Just wondering, how many servings does this recipe make as you have it posted? I guess more specifically, what size pan would you use for this?
    It looks really good. Thanks.

  31. Hi Jennifer,
    I used a medium bread pan for this recipe. I would say it probably makes about 4-5 servings, but it depends on the appetite of those involved.
    But really, you can use any pan and make the recipe any size- just increase pasta amount, and possibly either make more pine nut cheese or just be skimpier with the pine nut cheese layers.
    Hope this helps!

  32. I made this for my sister and her boyfriend, neither of whom have food restrictions (I’m gluten- and dairy-free), and he didn’t know the cheese was made out of pine nuts. “How can Meredith eat this if there’s cheese in it?” he asked my sister. I glowed when she told me about that.

  33. I made this for my partner’s son who is on a dairy and soy restricted diet. It turned out really good, he loved it. The only thing I would mention is that I used a mixture of pine nuts and macadamias (as suggested in the article), about 75% to 25%. I would not recommend using macadamias. They have too “nutty” a flavor for this particular use. I also increased the nutritional yeast to 1.5 tablespoons and added about a tablespoon of cornstarch and some fresh crushed garlic to the “ricotta” to give it a but more texture.

  34. Hi Jeanine- I was thinking that it might be good to try cashew nuts or almonds, but hadn’t really thought of macadamia nuts, because they are expensive (even more so than pine nuts)… also, i do find that macadamia has a bit too much personality in general. I don’t think it needs the cornstarch, because actually when you bake it thickens nicely on its own, but it is an interesting idea.

    Glad you enjoyed the recipe!


  35. This was just a BIG hit with my teenage son. I mixed a little fresh oregano, basil, and parsley from the garden in with the ricotta, fresh home-made sauce, and GF penne and made a baked zitti style – topped it with some soy mozzarella. It was better than the soy ricotta version; and quick to make (once the sauce was done). Thanks for the great idea.

  36. [...] a lot of dairy-free recipes in the coming weeks. This week I decided to make a sauce based on my classic recipe for a gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free pine nut cheese sauce, using the pine nut base for a creamy sauce lightly flavored with tomato and fresh herbs. I served [...]

  37. Just popped this in the oven. Can’t wait to try it. One question, though. Did anybody else find that one cup of pasta sauce was not enough?

  38. [...] recipe Or my Sunflower-seed based Dill Havarti Substitute Spread And here’s my very popular Recipe for pine nut cheese, perfect for [...]

  39. [...] Pignoli Spinach Lasagna Recipe That Will Knock Your Socks [...]

  40. Hi there, I’ve made this recipe once and absolutely loved it! I am wondering, however, if you can assemble the layers, out it in the fridge over night, and then cook it the next day? Will it turn out just as wonderfully? Thanks!

  41. Just found this recipe tonight and made it straight away although I was missing a couple of ingredients. I had a packet of ground almonds which meant no blending, and no nutritional yeast so added 1 1/2 teaspoons of vegemite. This accounted for the salt as well. I made Jamie Oliver’s simple pasta sauce from 3 cans of tomatoes with a kick of chilli. Was highly surprised at how delicious this recipe was and how cheesy the taste and texture was. Thank you so much! Will be making regularly from now on. Non-dairy cheese is hard to come by where I live.

  42. I recently found a raw food recipe for lasagna calling for thin slices of zucchini for the noodles but i can’t get myself to eat raw food in January. I’m going to be combining these recipes this week. Thank you!!!!

  43. [...] I came across a recipe posted in the Book of Yum blog for a dairy-free spinach lasagna.  Their lasagna used a natural, raw food “ricotta cheese” recipe that Sarma Melngailis – [...]

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