Why Lentils Are The Ideal Ingredient Swap For Meatless Lasagna

Whether you have been committed to a vegan diet for a long time, or you just want to try something new and a little lighter on the wallet, one of the hardest things about going meatless can be finding satisfying substitutions for your favorite dishes. Lasagna lovers — look no further. Recipe developer Catherine Brooks offers the perfect solution: vegan lentil lasagna.

While a traditional lasagna recipe generally relies on the inclusion of ragù or sausage, this vegan version uses lentils to mimic some of the textures, flavors, and nutritional qualities that make this dish so enjoyable. When cooked well, lentils maintain a firm yet slightly creamy consistency with an earthy, savory taste that easily replaces ground meat. The high protein content of lentils, which are packed with vitamins and minerals, also ensures that everyone at the table will leave feeling fully satiated. Vegetarians can opt to add in cheese, but this lentil lasagna is so delicious that no one will be missing meat.

The right lentils for your lasagna

The ingredient list for a meatless lasagna is similar to that of a traditional lasagna recipe in many ways. However, if you've never cooked with lentils before, you might be surprised by the variety available at your local grocery store. Lentils come in many different colors, including red, green, brown, black, and yellow, each with its own unique flavors and textures. For her meatless lasagna, Catherine Brooks recommends brown lentils.

Brown lentils have a mild flavor, making them incredibly versatile, and they hold their shape particularly well when cooked. While other types of lentils are better suited for smooth purees and soups, brown lentils are ideal as a meat substitute because they offer a hearty, slightly chewy consistency with each forkful. To further enhance the variety of textures in every bite, be sure to generously sprinkle cheese — including vegan options if you wish to keep the recipe fully plant-based — over the entire dish, adding a crispy finish to the top of lasagna.

More lentils for nutritious, sustainable meals

Lentils are an excellent choice for vegetarians, vegans, and those who participate in Meatless Monday for several reasons, including their high concentration of key nutrients and low environmental impact. Whether for one day a week or every day of the year, lentils work well in a wide range of plant-based meals, from pastas to patties, salads, and stews. If you're looking for other meat-free alternatives to lentils for your lasagna or other dishes, you can also try other legumes that are staples in Italian cuisine, such as chickpeas or cannellini beans.

One of the greatest nutritional qualities of lentils — and the reason they make such a good meat substitution — is that they are packed with protein (18 grams per cup). While beef and other meat products do not contain any dietary fiber, lentils are also high in fiber (over 15 grams per cup). According to the Harvard T. H. Chan Public School of Health, protein supports healthy heart, respiratory, and immune systems, while fiber regulates the body's digestion cycles and blood sugar levels. Additionally, lentils contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals, such as iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and vitamin B6.

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