When a dinner like Vegetable Lasagna hits the table, no one will miss the lasagna with meat—not even diehard meat lovers. Filled with spinach, mushrooms, ricotta, and an easy homemade tomato sauce, this labor of love recipe is worth every minute.
This recipe for Vegetable Lasagna breaks everything down into tidy steps that make it completely manageable, even if you’ve never made anything like it before. Even though it’s not a one-pot, 30 minute dinner, it’s still an easy lasagna to make with a little extra time, even on weeknights.
Vegetable Lasagna ingredients:
- Lasagna noodles. This recipe recommends dried, but there are options for using fresh and par-cooked noodles, down below.
- Olive oil.
- Frozen spinach. (One 10-ounce package, for this recipe, as-is.)
- Crushed tomatoes. (One 20-ounce can if you’re making this recipe as-is.)
- Tomato sauce. (One 15-ounce can if you’re making this recipe as-is.)
- Sugar. Just a little!
- Dried basil.
- Italian seasoning. Store-bought or make your own right here.
- Fennel seeds.
- Ricotta cheese. Full fat cottage cheese works in Vegetable Lasagna, too.
- Dried parsley.
- Mozzarella cheese. In this case, not the fresh stuff, floating in liquid. Look for the plastic-wrapped mozzarella, which is firmer, drier, and sturdier.
- Parmesan cheese.
Lasagna or lasagne?
Both, sort of! Lasagna is the Italian singular form of the noodle itself, but it’s also the American English spelling of the recipe.
In America, dishes made with this type of noodle are called lasagna. The plural is lasagnas. Outside of the United States, it’s usually referred to as “lasagne.” Both are used interchangeably here.
All about lasagna noodles:
Lasagne noodles wiki, coming up!
When you’re shopping for noodles, you’re presented with many (more than enough, really) choices. Fresh, dried, or no-boil noodles are all out there, and no, they’re not all the same. Here’s what you need to know.
- Fresh noodles. Homemade or store-bought, which are often found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, fresh pasta is absolutely delicious. Some brands claim that pre-cooking isn’t necessary, but it makes a better lasagne if you cook them first.
- Dried lasagna noodles. The quality of dried pasta varies greatly from brand to brand, so choose wisely. Look for thin noodle sheets, usually made in Italy, which carry more sheets per pound in the box. The popular pasta brand DeCecco has shorter sheets that fit nicely inside a baking dish.
- No-boil dried lasagna noodles. Precooked pasta sheets work well but they need a little extra water added to the sauce, as well as a sheet of heavy-duty foil over the top of the pan while baking to trap steam and soften them. If you want to use no-boil lasagna noodles, add about ½ cup water to the tomato sauce and bake the first 25 to 30 minutes covering the pan with foil.
How to make Vegetable Lasagna:
Here we go! Take a deep breath–making lasagna is easy, promise.
This lasagna how-to is for the visual learners who might be reading. For specific amounts and units, as well as an option to change the quantity of the recipe, scroll on down to the bottom of the page.
- First, you have to cook the noodles. Fill a large stock pot with salted water and heat it to boiling. Then add the noodles and cook them until just al dente, or “to the tooth.”
- Drain the water away from the cooked pasta sheets and rinse the noodles well under cold water to prevent them from getting stuck together.
- Once the noodles are ready, turn the oven on to 375 degrees. Then heat some olive oil in the bottom of a large Dutch oven and sauté the onions and mushrooms together with a little salt until softened. You want the mushrooms to release their liquid. Next stir in the minced garlic.
- Give the thawed frozen spinach a squeeze over the sink to get rid of excess water, then add it to the pot. Then pour in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, and fennel seeds. Simmer the sauce uncovered for about 15 minutes. You can give the sauce a stir every few minutes.
- To make the ricotta filling, mix together the ricotta cheese, egg, parsley, and a little salt. This gets stored in the refrigerator until you start building the lasagna.
How to Assemble Lasagna:
You’re on the home stretch. Once you have everything ready to go, assembling the lasagna is actually pretty easy and fun. It’s just a matter of repeating the order of the layers of sauce, pasta, and cheeses.
- You need a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish for this lasagna recipe.
- Spread 2 cups of tomato sauce in the bottom of the baking dish, then arrange a single layer of cooked noodles over the sauce.
- Next, gently spread 2/3 cup of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles from edge to edge. Sprinkle 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese over the ricotta.
- Time for the Parmesan cheese! Sprinkle on ⅓ cup of Parmesan cheese over the two cheeses.
- Now, just repeat the layers in the same exact order: tomato sauce, then noodles, then ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan, two more times, for a total of three sets of delicious layers.
- You should (hopefully) end with the last ⅓ cup of Parmesan cheese on the top of the assembled lasagna.
Baking the Lasagna:
All your hard work is behind you. Baking a lasagna–there’s nothing to it!
- Your oven should be preheated to 375 degrees.
- To bake, spray a large piece of aluminum foil with nonstick spray and cover the whole baking dish.
- Bake covered for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and bake another 25 minutes until the lasagna is hot and bubbly.
- Finally, let cook at least 10 minutes before cutting into slices and serving.
Making Lasagna ahead of time:
If you want to get ahead of the game, you can make lasagna in advance. Just complete the layering process and wrap the baking dish tightly in plastic wrap. Lasagne can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one day before you need it.
To cook the chilled lasagna, unwrap the pan and bake it in a preheated oven at 375 degrees.
Can you freeze lasagna?
Yep! Wrap the uncooked lasagna in plastic wrap and heavy-duty foil before freezing. It will keep in the freezer for up to a month.
To bake a frozen lasagna, move it into the refrigerator for at least 12 hours to defrost slowly, then bake it in a preheated oven at 375 degrees.
Gluten-free Vegetable Lasagna:
There are certainly quite a few gluten free pasta varieties out there, so pick your favorite corn-based pasta or other gf pasta and try it out. For a vegetable lasagna without pasta sheets, try making vegetable lasagna with zucchini noodles instead.
How to make Vegetable Lasagna with Zucchini:
Here’s a great way to make lasagna with zucchini instead of noodles, in case you’re avoiding carbs or if you just want to add more vegetables to your diet. (Always a good idea!)
Due to pre-cooking the zucchini, it’s a little extra work, but it’s worth it. The extra roasting step dries out the zucchini so the lasagna has a firmer texture, without getting too soggy.
In place of regular pasta, you will need 3-4 medium or large zucchini, some extra salt, and olive oil.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, thinly and evenly slice the zucchini lengthwise into long planks. Aim for 1/8” thickness, if you can.
- Spread the slices out on a few paper towels and sprinkle with salt. The salt helps draw out extra moisture. Let the slices sit for about 10 minutes, then wipe away the salt and the liquid on each slice with the paper towels.
- Lightly oil each zucchini slice and spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool. You may need to use more than one baking sheet for the zucchini, baking in stages.
- Now you can use the slices of zucchini in place of the pasta in the recipe, building the lasagna as directed in the recipe.
For the noodles:
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 box lasagna noodles NOT no-boil
For the sauce:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound sliced mushrooms
- 10 ounces frozen spinach thawed
- 1 medium onion chopped (about 1 cup)
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar or to taste (see notes)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
For the cheese filling:
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound mozzarella cheese shredded
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
To make the noodles:
- In a large stock pot, bring 4 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to boil. Add noodles and cook until just al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain well and rinse with cold water to prevent sticking.
To make the sauce:
- Meanwhile, in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat olive oil until shimmering. Add mushrooms, onions, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until the mushrooms have released most of their liquid, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in spinach, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, and fennel seeds. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I like 1 ½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper). You should have about 2 quarts sauce.
To make the cheese filling:
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, parsley, and salt. Chill until the sauce is finished.
To assemble the lasagna:
- In the bottom of a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish, spread 2 cups sauce. Arrange a single layer of uncooked noodles over the meat sauce (I do 3 full-size noodles lengthwise and then a partial noodle crosswise). Spread with a heaping 2/3 cup of the ricotta mixture. Top with about 1 ½ cups (5 ounces) of mozzarella. Sprinkle with ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese.
- Spoon 2 cups sauce over the cheese. Make another layer of noodles, ricotta mixture (heaping 2/3 cup), mozzarella (1 ½ cups) and Parmesan (⅓ cup). Repeat layers 1 more time, for a total of 3 layers.
- Spray a large piece of foil with nonstick spray and cover baking dish. Bake 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Cool at least 10 minutes before serving.