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eggplant rolled up with veggies and marinara sauce over the top with basil leaves as a garnish

Eggplant Lasagna Roll-Ups with Cashew “Ricotta”

dairy-free gluten-free grain-free lunch/dinner paleo Sep 03, 2021

Lasagna and healthy don’t quite go hand-in-hand. Maybe lasagna and comfort food make a better pairing. What if we told you that you can get all of the flavors of lasagna and all the health benefits of a plant-based, clean eating diet?

A traditional lasagna consists of layers of noodles (gluten), cheese (dairy), and sauce. Sometimes meat and/or vegetables are added for variety. But for those of us who prefer to avoid gluten and dairy, all hope is not lost. Some simple swaps will make achieving the end product a breeze. Plus, you might find that you like it even better than the original.

Instead of lasagna noodles, we’ve turned to our good friend, the eggplant. Slicing your eggplant lengthwise will yield long pieces akin to sheets of lasagna noodles. Sure, you can try the gluten-free lasagna noodles sold in many specialty stores, but we’ve found that they don’t soften up well enough. And if you’re staying away from grains as well, then veggie noodles are your only option. Baking the eggplant sheets first will give you a very tender end result.

To swap out the ricotta cheese typically used in lasagna, we’ve gotten on the nut-cheese bandwagon and are using cashews to make our “ricotta” cheese. Cashews seem to give the best result. All you have to do is soak them in water for at least 4 hours, drain them, and blend them in the food processor (or you can soak cashews in hot water to speed up the process).

Plain cashew cheese is kind of bland, so we infused ours with lots of basil, lemon, and garlic to make it a pesto-flavored cashew cheese. It makes a killer filling that can double as a veggie dip.

To add even more veggies, we've added some spiralized zucchini to the center of the eggplant roll-ups. It definitely makes this dish filling.

Once all of the components are prepared, assembly is rather quick. Instead of making a typical layered lasagna (which you can do), we decided to turn them into pretty lasagna roll-ups. Add a dollop of the cashew ricotta to one end of the eggplant, add some zucchini, roll up, top with marinara sauce and some nutritional yeast for a cheesy topping. If you can tolerate dairy, you can add some fresh Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano (sheep's milk cheese) to the top. As everything is already cooked, all you have to do is heat it for a few minutes in the oven. Finish with some fresh basil leaves and dinner is served!