My husband’s comment mid-forkful of this lasagna: “Who knew a veggie lasagna could be so filling!” And I breathed a sigh of relief since I wasn’t sure how this meatless meal would be received. Of course, that was after his third piece, but even still, this lasagna is hearty and is packed, I mean packed, with vegetables. I’m in a hurry to use up the last of my garden produce and this recipe from my Aunt Jeanette was the perfect way to do it!
I altered the recipe a bit, mainly chopping up the vegetables finely enough that they couldn’t be picked out by my children. It worked like magic. They seriously loved this lasagna and with over eight cups of vegetables, I felt like supermom (and then promptly fell from supermom grace after letting them eat hot dogs for the next two nights in a row). If you like your vegetables chunkier, go for it! That is a very adaptable piece of this recipe. In the end, I personally liked the finely chopped vegetables, too. It gave the lasagna a cohesive texture and I wasn’t jarred out of my gustatory bliss by biting into a honkin’ piece of zucchini. My other alteration was to use no-boil noodles, because…well, why not? I love not having to boil them beforehand.
While the lasagna may be full of vitamin-laden veggies, it is also filled to brimming with a delicious ricotta and spinach layer that binds the lasagna perfectly and is helped along by rich, creamy mozzarella and spunky Parmesan cheese. The combination of all the above with the tender noodles and flavorful sauce is utterly fantastic.
Note: when assembled, this lasagna is piled very high – above the rim of the baking pan. Initially, I thought I might have an exploding volcano of lasagna all over my oven but wasn’t I pleased when it settled perfectly while baking. Be sure, though, to place it on a foil-lined baking sheet to avoid any potential spillovers while it cooks.
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 3 zucchini (about 2 ½ to 3 cups finely chopped – mine were in 1/4-inch or less pieces)
- 2 squash (about 2 cups finely chopped – 1/4-inch or less pieces)
- 2 cups chopped broccoli
- 20 ounces chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained well (or squeezed through a towel)
- 3 cups ricotta cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 16 ounces mozzarella, shredded (about 4 cups)
- 4-6 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 (24-ounce) jars pasta sauce or use 6 cups of homemade sauce
- 12 no-boil lasagna noodles (I love the Barilla brand), or 12 regular lasagna noodles, boiled and drained
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine all the chopped vegetables (carrots, broccoli, zucchini, squash) with 1/2 teaspoon salt and steam briefly, for 2-3 minutes, to soften them just a bit (they’ll finish cooking in the oven after the lasagna is assembled).
- In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, spinach and salt. Mix well.
- Lightly grease a 9X13-inch pan. Spoon about 3/4 cup sauce onto the bottom of the pan and spread around. It will be a thin layer. Cover with four no-boil lasagna noodles, overlapping slightly. Spoon in 1/3 of the lightly steamed vegetables evenly. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the vegetables then sprinkle with 1/3 of the mozzarella and 1/4 of the Parmesan cheese. Pour 1/3 of the remaining sauce over the cheese, lightly spreading it to the edges. Repeat the layers (noodles, vegetables, ricotta, mozzarella/parm, sauce) two more times, ending with the last of the sauce. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over the top. This lasagna will be piled high – above the rim of your 9X13-inch pan, but it will settle as it bakes.
- Cover the lasagna with a sheet of lightly greased foil and place the 9X13-inch pan on a large baking sheet lined with foil (this is important since the lasagna will bubble and spit over the edge a bit as it bakes). Bake, covered, for 50 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
Recipe Source: adapted from my Aunt Jeanette