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When it comes to the holiday season, dishes often star a whole lot of meat and dairy. But for vegetarians and vegans, this emphasis on animal products means you’re likely always searching for the one lone veggie-friendly dish on the table.

But that doesn’t have to be the case anymore, thanks to Jackie Kearney’s cookbook “Vegan Holiday Feasts.” Jackie, who competed on MasterChef and was the first vegetarian to reach the final, is a food writer with a passion for vegan and vegetarian fare. Her offers an assortment of holiday-leaning, plant-based recipes geared toward Thanksgiving all the way through New Year’s. There are plenty of familiar options that have been upgraded with a vegan twist—think smoky stuffed roast jammed with herb stuffing and panna cotta with candied kumquats, which swaps whole milk for soy—along with dishes that are simply naturally veggie-forward, like roasted tomato soup and rainbow chard tartlets. 

Related Reading: Vegan Alternatives to Famous Thanksgiving Dishes

Vegan Holiday Feasts: Inspired Meat-Free Recipes for the Festive Season, $12.18 on Amazon

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So this year, whether you’re cooking for vegan and vegetarian friends or prefer sticking to a plant-based diet, take a page out of Jackie’s book. Below, she shares a recipe for a warm and comforting roasted aubergine (eggplant, to us Americans) lasagne with Puy lentils. The lasagne features all of your favorite parts—from rich tomato sauce to the rounds of eggplant—but instead of the dairy, Jackie replaces cheese with an almond-milk bechamel, which gets layered on top and crisped up in the oven. It’s so creamy and flavorful that your friends will be shocked to discover it lacks any dairy at all.

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From “Vegan Holiday Feasts: Inspired Meat-Free Recipes for the Festive Season” by Jackie Kearney; Ryland Peters & Small

Roasted Aubergine Lasagne with Puy Lentils Recipe

We love a good vegetarian lasagne in our house. I don’t think you can beat a homemade one. I think the dish benefits from being left overnight and baked the following day, but a few hours in the fridge will do the job if pushed for time. The lentils can be substituted for vegan ‘mince’ and the aubergines/eggplants for courgettes/zucchini, if you like.

Roasted Aubergine Lasagna with Puy Lentils

Serves: 6-8
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250 g/generous 1¼ cups Puy lentils
  • 750 ml/3¼ cups vegetable stock, plus extra if needed
  • 12 large tomatoes
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 red (bell) pepper deseeded and diced
  • 1 celery stick, diced
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • handful of fresh marjoram
  • handful of fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons tomato purée/paste
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 2 aubergines/eggplants
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons plain/all-purpose flour
  • 400 ml/scant 1¾ cups almond or soy milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 packet of egg-free lasagne sheets
  • 120 g/4½ oz. grated vegan Italian-style hard cheese
  1. Start with the lentil mixture. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a pan and sauté half of the onion and one crushed garlic clove until softened. Add the Puy lentils and sauté for a further minute, then add the stock and simmer until the lentils are fully cooked and soft. Add further stock as needed; you are aiming for the lentils to absorb most of the liquid without leaving too much broth.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200˚C (400˚F) Gas 6.
  3. Remove the hard cores from the tomatoes. Place them whole on a baking sheet, along with the 3 remaining crushed garlic cloves and roast in the oven until well roasted and almost starting to blacken. Blitz with a stick blender and set aside.
  4. To make the aubergine/eggplant layer, remove the ends of the aubergines/eggplants. Slice them lengthways into 1 cm/½ inch thick slices. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil and season. Roast in the oven until golden brown and soft. Set aside.
  5. Reduce the oven temperature to 190˚C (375˚F) Gas 5.
  6. Back to the lentil mixture. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and sauté the remaining half of the onion, along with the carrot, red (bell) pepper and celery, then add the cooked lentil mixture, soy sauce, bay leaf, and fresh marjoram and thyme. Add the blended tomatoes and the tomato purée/paste. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the salt and pepper, then adjust the seasoning according to taste.
  7. To make the ‘béchamel’, heat the olive oil in a small, deep pan, add the salt, white pepper and flour, and cook to make a roux. Gently cook the paste for 2–3 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking all the time, until it reaches a creamy sauce consistency. Add the bay leaf and the mustard powder, and simmer for 2–3 minutes. Check the seasoning.
  8. Layer some ‘béchamel’ sauce in the bottom of a large, deep baking dish and cover with lasagne sheets. Add half of the lentil and tomato mixture, followed by a layer of aubergine/eggplant, using all the slices and overlapping them to create a thick layer. Add the remaining lentil mixture, a final layer of lasagne sheets and top with the remaining ‘béchamel’. Sprinkle with the vegan cheese and some salt and pepper.
  9. Bake for 30–40 minutes until bubbling and the top is golden brown. Serve.

Header image courtesy of Jackie Kearney.

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