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The Betty Crocker Project: Vegan Sausage & Spinach Pesto Lasagna Rolls


This is the weekend I did a lot of things I’ve been meaning to do for longer than I care to admit. I submitted vegan recipes to mainstream (not vegan) sites and publications*. I let myself truly enjoy being pregnant to the point I picked out baby stuff online and made a list… a level of planning some of my anxiety from what happened before hasn’t let me do. I went to IKEA with Dan and we got a bunch of simple storage and organizing things to help alleviate some of the clutter that’s built up in our kitchen and is almost unavoidable in Brooklyn kitchens. I’m in love with the result.

I also stumbled across a post a I had meant to share back in January but couldn’t because our blog died. It was all about New Year’s Resolutions and how sticking to them is one of the few talents I have and the benefits this has brought to my life. I’ve found over the years the key is picking one you can really focus on and knocking that one out of the park so next year you can pick another and in like 5 years you’re 5xs more awesome.

As cornball as it sounds – New Year’s Resolutions have actually added a lot to my life and are actually a pretty important part of how I deal with my own faults and flaws. Back in 1994, I was 19 and bought a dozen cloth tote bags (this was before everyone started giving them away for free and they were actually kinda expensive) and my resolution was to stop using plastic bags whenever I could. I’m proud to say that 20 years later, I’m still doing pretty good – although now I have over 30 reusable shopping bags and have been accused of being a bag hoarder**. In 1998, I decided to be a strictly raw foods focused vegan, I had already been vegan for like a decade but this step was building off the drug (including caffeine) and alcohol-free resolution I had taken the year before. I lived this “clean” lifestyle for almost 2 years but in the end I wasn’t enjoying my lifestyle as much as I could and I could tell I wasn’t being a good ambassador for the cruelty-free life and that the focus of all that effort was on me and not really the animals – and that’s not why I’m vegan. So I chilled out but I learned a lot during those years and even now a lot of the meals I eat are still raw or raw-adjacent. In 2002, I decided I was going to pursue a full-time career in animal advocacy rather than just random contract work and donating. By February 2003, I was in Norfolk, VA working at Peta and sitting at a desk next to my future husband.

I struggled this year to come up with my 2014 resolution. I really looked at myself and the problems I was having because of a sad cocktail of personal tragedy and frustrations. I went a new route this time and made a list of almost 200 things I wanted to do this year – including making up for resolutions I was not as successful at – such as 2013’s : Be a better friend and do not always put work first. I guess you could say this year’s resolution is to be the best me. What I’m learning is that you can actually get most things you want to do done – you just can’t do them all at once. So the status of 2014’s resolution? In Progress. I’ll give progress reports throughout the year though to let you know how it goes.

But I want to hear from you – what was your resolution? How’s it going? What do you think keeps you from being successful at these?

That brings us to today! Two of the items on my massive todo list are:

  1. Post a recipe at least twice a week.
  2. Only post recipes I really love.

What I’m finding is that these 2 don’t always work well with each other – especially when I’m working on and testing recipes for our books and submission to other publications. But here’s hoping by March I find a way to make it happen.

This recipe was one I’ve made a few times just for fun (I do still do that) and is inspired by the numerous lasagna rolls on the Betty Crocker website but not any one in particular. It’s easy and delicious and down right awesome sauce. You can freeze it and reheat it without losing any of it’s awesome sauce-ness. It’s pretty much a great Sunday night dinner/Monday lunch for you and yours. This recipe also makes about a dozen rolls so it’s good for parties and potlucks.

The hardest part about this recipe is handling your lasagna noodles and cleaning your food processor. Sold yet?

Vegan Sausage & Spinach Pesto Lasagna Rolls

1 package of lasagna noodles (not the oven-ready kind)
5 white or mini portobello mushrooms, sliced
2 vegan Italian sausages, diced (we recommend using either Tofurky or Field Roast or 1 package of Upton’s Natural’s Italian style seitan)
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce
1/4 cup of your favorite vegan mozzarella, shredded (we recommend using Daiya)

Spinach Pesto Tofu Ricotta

1 package extra firm tofu, drained
1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
3/4 cup of your favorite vegan mozzarella, shredded ( we recommend using Daiya)
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 Tablespoon vegan parmesan cheese, you might want a bit more to sprinkle over the top ( we recommend using Go Veggie! by Galaxy)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 cloves garlic, minced

Heat your oven 375.

Start by boiling your lasagna noodles following the directions on the package. You’ll want them to come out slightly al dente so keep that in mind while they’re in the pot. If you have problems with your lasagna noodles sticking together in the pot, try adding 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt to your water before it comes to a boil and then a tablespoon of olive oil to your water with your raw noodles. Then while your noodles are boiling carefully use a butter knife to keep them separated. I recommend wearing an oven mitt to protect your hand from the steam. Once you drain your noodles, give them a VERY light rinse with cold water so they’re cool enough to handle. This will also help them separate.

While your noodles are cooking, blend all your ingredients for your Spinach Pesto Tofu Ricotta in your food processor until it’s a smooth paste.

Pour at least half of your jar of marinara sauce in a baking dish. Make sure you completely cover the bottom of your entire baking dish with a thick layer.

Then one at a time, lay your lasagna noodles out on a cutting board and using a ribber tipped spatula spread your tofu ricotta over your noodles like your spreading your favorite smear on a bagel. Then sprinkle a pinch of vegan sausage and a few slices of mushroom over half your noodle.

Starting at the end of your noodle that doesn’t have any toppings, gently roll up your noodle. Tuck any toppings that might have poked out back into your roll. Then gently place your roll seam down in your baking dish full of sauce. Repeat the process until you run out of noodles. Place your rolls in your dish so they touch but try to get a little sauce between each roll so they don’t stick together when they bake.

Using a spoon drizzle your remaining marinara sauce over the top of your rolls and with your hands sprinkle a little vegan mozzarella.

Put in the oven to bake for 30 minutes or until you notice that the edges of your noodles are crispy and your vegan mozzarella has melted. I like it when my baked vegan cheese has a little crispiness to it – so I always let give my baked vegan cheese dishes a quick (like 30 seconds) broil on high to get that effect.

Sprinkle with vegan parmesan cheese before serving.



*Everyone cross your fingers for me please!

**Honestly though – some (like this ostrich bag I got when did our book signing in Portland at  Herbivore) are so cute! Maybe my resolution for 2015 will be to stop with the bag hoarding.

PS – Sorry this post is WAY too long. I’ll be less chatty next time.

6 thoughts on “The Betty Crocker Project: Vegan Sausage & Spinach Pesto Lasagna Rolls”

  • These look delicious… I’ve made vegan lasagna rolls before for appetizers and showers. These look yummy and I’m sure I’ll try them.

    About resolutions, I usually make them and they go no where. This is the CRAZY thing … this year my resolution was “to be a better me”… if freaked me out when I read those words on your blog. I’m trying, I’m a work in process but I don’t beat myself over it… one day at a time!

    I love your blog and am so happy for you and Mr. Shannon with the new baby on the way. Take care and keep doing what you do.

    • I’m finding a good route for my new year’s resolution this year is giving myself credit for even the littlest accomplishments. The encouragement that gives me a boost to tackle the bigger goals. I hope you’ll keep me posted throughout the year on how your resolution goes. I really like that we’re in this together. 🙂

      And thank you! I’m really lucky to be able to share this remarkable time with you guys.

  • Hi Annie! I think all the resolutions you posted here are fabulous. My resolution was to be happier! Turns out happiness is a choice. Who knew? No one told this (formerly) jaded New Yorker! It’s definitely a work in progress, but so far, so good.

    Your new kitchen organization is my dream, btw… A project for another day!

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