Time to Clean Out Pantry and Go Vegan!

by Anouk Booneman

                                     Vegan Parmesan on Pasta

While Spring may be officially here, it doesn’t feel that way yet. After a few balmy days, I replaced our heavy winter coats with lighter ones on the coat rack. I should have known better after 18 years in upstate New York; we are back to freezing temperatures for now.

Besides putting the coats away, I cleaned out the pantry, which is usually followed by a few “use up what you have” meals. The past few months I made a lot of lasagnas for people with different dietary requirements and found a few open boxes lasagna sheets hiding in the back of the pantry. Out of curiosity, I googled lasagna soup, which is actually a real thing. It’s the perfect recipe to use those broken bits and pieces of lasagna sheets and to use a few pantry staples. I use several brands of lasagna sheets and a very good gluten-free brand is the organic green lentil lasagna from Explore Cuisine. It can be found in the local supermarket or online. The taste is excellent (it doesn’t taste like lentils) and is very easy to work with. For the lasagna soup, I used a classic recipe found online that was very easy to convert to vegan. Over the weekend I also made baked crispy peanut tofu, a recipe from the Minimalist Baker that received rave reviews. This recipe is really easy to make and doesn’t require a lot of ingredients. Trader Joe’s has a really nice and dense tofu (thank you Bill Hoffman for the tip) that I have been using. This tofu doesn’t need to be pressed for a long time and contains less water than the other brands. If you use a lot of tofu, I recommend getting a tofu press, a gadget that is worth having. It’s available online and is inexpensive. Tofu is a soy-based product that is very versatile and nutritious. Preparing it is not difficult, but it can be very bland if not done properly. We enjoyed this dish with noodles. I have several brands in my pantry. A favorite is King soba noodles for a gluten- free version, and recently we have really liked Momofuku soy & scallion noodles. Both can be found on the web. Momofuku also carries an excellent soy sauce and chili condiment.

Vegan Lasagna Soup

For the lasagna soup you will need

  • 12 uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup white wine (or stock)
  • 1 tsp of oregano (I don’t really measure my spices, so I probably used a lot more than that)
  • 1 tsp of thyme
  • 1 package of impossible beef (or any other plant-based brand that you like, if choosing to make this plant-based)
  • 1 tsp of salt (more if you want)
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • one 14.5 ounce can whole tomatoes with juice
  • 1 quart vegetable stock ( I usually make my own but make an exception for the brand Ocean’s Halo. I have found this one online and in the supermarket)
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley to top
  • 1 tbsp of vegan parmesan if using (see recipe below)


Bring a pot of water to a boil. Break the lasagna noodles into smaller pieces.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, oregano and thyme and cook until they start to soften

Increase the heat to medium heat then add the impossible beef.

Sauté until the impossible beef is fully cooked.

Add the tomato paste and combine. Cook for one minute

Add the wine, stir to deglaze the bottom of the pan

Add the tomatoes and their juice. Add the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Cook the noodles according to the package directions, but remove when they are almost tender. Add the noodles to the soup and let simmer.

Dish up in soup bowls, add fresh parsley and vegan parmesan if using.


To make the parmesan (recipe from Minimalist Baker)


  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Add all ingredients to a food processor and mix pulse until nuts are ground and grated parmesan consistency is achieved. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. This lasts for weeks and is the best recipe I have found so far.

Baked Crispy Tofu

( Adapted from the Minimalist Baker)

  • 3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
  • 1 tsp chili
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4-5 tbsp cornstarch

Peanut Sauce

  • 2 ½ tbsp creamy peanut butter (or other nut or seed butter)
  • 2 tbsp tamari (soy sauce or coconut aminos)
  • 1 bsp chili
  • 1 tsp tgarlic powder
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp sesame oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  • Start pressing tofu using a tofu press, or wrap in clean, absorbent towel and set something heavy — like a cast iron skillet or books — on top to press out the moisture. Press for about 15-20 minutes.
  • In the meantime, prepare peanut sauce by combining peanut butter, tamari, chili sauce, lime juice, maple syrup, and sesame oil in a small mixing bowl and whisking thoroughly to combine. Set aside.
  • Cut pressed tofu into 3/4-inch cubes and add to a large plate. Top with tamari or soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, sesame oil, and maple syrup. Gently toss to combine using hands or a spoon. Let marinate 2-3 minutes, stirring/tossing occasionally.
  • Use a slotted spoon or your hands to transfer tofu to a quart-size or large freezer bag. Add cornstarch 1 tbsp at a time and toss to coat. Continue adding more cornstarch and tossing until tofu is coated in a gummy, white layer
  • Transfer tofu to the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 20-25 minutes, flipping at the 18-minute mark to encourage even baking. It should be firm to the touch, firm on the edges, and slightly browned on the exterior once removed from the oven. Bake slightly longer if needed.
  • Heat a large metal or cast iron skillet (12 inch) over medium heat. Once hot, add tofu and the peanut sauce. Toss to coat. Stirring frequently, sauté the tofu for about 2 minutes, or until the tofu is hot and well coated with peanut sauce.

I served these with noodles and sautéed shishito peppers. These have become readily available. I found mine at Trader Joe’s, but I have seen them at most local supermarkets.

At this point it’s ready to eat! Enjoy as is or with any Asian-inspired dish. We love it with our Mango Curry, Noodle-Free Pad Thai, or these Thai Noodle Bowls!

AnoukFinal.jpegAnouk Booneman
Anouk is co-founder of Spring Into Health, was a baker at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies and a language teacher before moving to Clifton Park. She believes that industrialized eating has created major health crises all over of the globe and that food can be the strongest medicine. She is also a yoga instructor

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