KOMO Story Part II: How we made our Vegan Lasagna

Posted by Komo Komo on

 

This is Part II of our three part blog on how we launched Komo and our lasagna. Read Part I about why we decided to start with a vegan lasagna. 

We introduced our plant-based lasagna in March 2021 and first started working on the product in January. In 3 months, we created the idea, recipe, and packaging for Komo’s Lasagna, along with our Shepherd’s Pie and Chickenless Pot Pie.

The Research 

In Part I of this blog we talked about interviewing plant-based eaters, vegans, or people simply trying to eat a more plant-forward diet. In total, we spoke with over twenty consumers about why plant-based eating can be challenging, how they shop and what they would like to see more of. Some of our major learnings:

  • Plant-based eating is not easy. Whether it’s eating at home or out, there is a constant struggle with answering the everyday question of “what to eat?”. For those newly plant-based, planning and cooking are major obstacles. This is especially true in a mixed diet and for larger households. 

A meal like above with varied options can take hours to prepare and is often not a viable option for people with a full-time job. In addition to this, there are other difficulties with eating plant-based:

  • Most of the easy options are filled with additives. How many vegan chicken nugget varieties do we need?
  • Sharing food is hard, not only during events like Thanksgiving, but every day dinners. Living in a household with family who are not plant-based often means cooking multiple meals or trying to cook food that can please everyone.
We also visited the grocery store  and walked the aisles to see what products were available. The freezer section is a tough space to crack. There are many products and not a great deal of space. Most of the options we found were over processed and designed for convenience. All the options were microwaveable. At larger grocery stores, we found family-size lasagnas, shepherd’s pies and pot pies, but these options were lacking at natural food stores. There was also a disappointing lack of plant-based options.  

We saw an opportunity in the space of multi-serve, easy (ready-to-bake) entrees made with real, good ingredients. If it’s delicious, hearty, and easy to make with clean good ingredients, there must be a customer. We also wanted to make sure our packaging stood out, using colours and food forward designs. 

The Inspo 

We started to look at all the recipes for great vegan lasagna recipes. 

Edgy Veg reviewed three recipes here

There were countless of great creative recipes on Youtube, blogs and Pinterest. See Erin Ireland’s version

Yet the greatest one of all time that we found was Gaz Oakley’s (Avante Garde Vegan) amazing lasagna made with a beautiful bechamel sauce. No surprise that this was also the first video that comes up when you search Vegan Lasagna on Youtube. 

We were also inspired by Erin Ireland’s tofu ricotta, pictured here:

We knew to make our lasagna we wanted to keep our ingredient list as wholesome as possible, this meant staying away from packaged vegan cheeses or vegan meats that usually have added flavours or preservatives. We also wanted to focus on using extra virgin olive oil for cooking. 

"There was a disappointing lack of plant-based options"

The Development 

We got to work! Chef Fred’s been a chef for over 25 years and Jeffrey is a trained food scientist. Fred worked on the first renditions at his home kitchen in North Vancouver.

As we made more and more lasagnas, we continued to adjust to make sure the ingredients were balanced perfectly.

Along the way, we decided to incorporate organic Canadian green lentils. Not only are they hearty and filling, but also healthy and a major crop in Canada. We perfected our creamy béchamel and created our version of tofu ricotta, all assembled into a ten layer, ready-to-bake lasagna. 

After two months of trial and error, we created our final recipe. By this time, we had rented a shared kitchen and started preparing for our launch. 

Let us know in the comments below what is your favourite part of our 10-layered plant-based lasagna!

Stay tuned for Part III on our launch and first production!

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