These Vegan & Gluten-Free Zucchini Lasagna Roll Ups combine tender zucchini noodles with a creamy tofu ricotta and tangy marinara sauce. A hearty main dish or side!
For the Lasagna Roll-Ups:
- 4 medium zucchini (or 3 large)
- Salt, for sprinkling generously
- 3 cups (700 mL) marinara sauce
- 1 cup shredded vegan cheese, for sprinkling (optional)
- Serving suggestions: fresh basil, parsley, pesto, etc.
For the Vegan Ricotta:
- 1 14 ounce (397 g) block firm tofu, pressed*
- 1 1/2 cups (210 g) cashews, soaked* and drained
- 5 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
- Juice of 1 lemon (2 to 3 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 400F and set a 9×13” casserole dish aside.
- Salt the Zucchini: Trim the ends off of the zucchini, then use a mandoline to slice the zucchini thinly lengthwise (⅛” or less). Line a baking sheet or rack with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Place one layer of zucchini strips on the towel and sprinkle with salt, then flip the strips and sprinkle with salt again. (Note: don’t be afraid to use a good amount of salt! We will wipe it off in step 4). Cover with paper towels, then repeat with additional layers of zucchini and salt. Cover the final layer of zucchini with paper towels, then set aside to rest for 15 to 20 minutes. The salt will draw excess moisture out of the zucchini and the strips will become tender.
- Ricotta: While the zucchini is resting, make the ricotta. Set up a food processor with an S-blade attachment and add the tofu, cashews, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to the base. Process for 45 to 60 seconds, until you get a creamy and fluffy texture. Scrape the sides of the food processor with a spatula as necessary, to make sure everything is evenly incorporated. Transfer the ricotta to a bowl and fold in the basil and parsley. Set aside.
- Zucchini “Noodles”: Remove the top paper towel (or kitchen towel) layer from the zucchini and use it to wipe off any excess salt. Transfer the zucchini to a plate, and repeat with the remaining layers. The zucchini should be very soft and have the flexible texture of cooked lasagna noodles.
- Assemble: Pour the marinara sauce into the bottom of the baking dish. Place one strip of zucchini onto a cutting board or plate and use a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop or large spoon to place a dollop of the ricotta mixture towards the end of one side of the strip. Roll the zucchini up into a small “log”, so the ricotta mixture is surrounded by layers of zucchini. Then, place the roll-up into the marinara with one open (ricotta) side facing up. You can also place the roll-ups with both open sides in the sauce, but the ricotta will spill into the marinara more. Repeat with the remaining zucchini strips, until the casserole dish is full. Sprinkle the top of the casserole dish with vegan cheese, if using.
- Bake: Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the ricotta is golden on top. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving, to allow the sauce to thicken slightly. Top with additional fresh herbs if desired and serve warm. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Pressed Tofu: use a tofu-press if you have one, or wrap your tofu around a clean kitchen towel and place a heavy object on top. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes, ideally.
- Cashews: If you forget to soak your cashews ahead of time overnight, you can (1) cover them in boiling water and let sit for 20 minutes, or (2) cover them with water and microwave for 3 minutes, then let sit for 3-5 minutes before draining. If you are allergic to cashews, blanched almonds or pine nuts would work well instead! To make this recipe completely nut free, double the tofu and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to keep the texture creamy.
- Make Ahead: You can make the ricotta up to 3 days ahead of time – keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. You can also assemble the roll-ups in the casserole dish up to 24 hours ahead of time – just cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Let the casserole dish come to room temperature before baking in the oven.