When it comes to comforting Italian dishes, lasagna has to be at the top of the list of favorites for many people. It’s a staple on nearly every Italian menu, and there’s just something about it that takes us back to childhood. This yummy main course is composed of layers of cheese, noodles, and red sauce and it’s oh-so-tasty and satisfying. This particular recipe combines the lasagna that you know and love with zucchini, carrots, and mushrooms, making it a little more filling and equally as tasty.
Recipe developer Stephanie Rapone came up with this delicious recipe that tastes as good as it sounds. "I love how the veggies really integrate with everything — it doesn’t get too wet, and it doesn’t taste like an ‘alternative’ lasagna. With the veggies so finely cut and cooked down, they really add a savory and hearty note to the dish," Rapone shares. She adds, "I love that this is a healthier alternative to our traditional lasagna, but it’s still delicious, satisfying, and comforting — as lasagna should be!" Keep scrolling for step-by-step instructions on how to whip together this impressive lasagna.
Gather the ingredients for this vegetarian lasagna
Once you are ready to get cooking, gather all of the necessary ingredients. Start with some lasagna noodle sheets and a package of frozen spinach. You will also need olive oil, garlic, and a handful of basil. In the produce aisle, grab some mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, and a medium-sized onion. No lasagna would be complete without tomato paste and a can of crushed tomatoes. Moving down the list, you’ll need a little bit of sugar, kosher salt, and black pepper. Let’s not forget the cheese! A few cups of ricotta and shredded mozzarella will do the trick.
Start by cooking the noodles
Take out a pot and add 4 cups of water — an estimate is also fine, it doesn’t need to be exact. Place the pot of water on the stovetop and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, grab a 9×13-inch baking dish and place the lasagna noodles flat across the surface. You can use the same dish here that you plan to use to assemble the lasagna. Pour the boiling water over the noodles and cover the dish with foil. Allow them to soak while you do the rest of the prep work.
Chop the veggies and heat the olive oil and tomatoes
Get a cutting board and a sharp knife and chop the basil first, making sure to hold back 1 tablespoon to use for garnish. Then, place the garlic on the cutting board and mince it. You’ll want to divide what you chopped into two equal portions.
Place a large skillet on your stove and increase the heat to medium, then add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and half of the garlic. Be sure to stir as you go, cooking the garlic for a minute. Now, go ahead and toss in the tomato paste, stirring until it deepens in color. Then, add the crushed tomatoes, sugar, ½ teaspoon of salt, and fresh basil. Stir until everything is combined, then transfer the sauce into a bowl and set it aside. Give the skillet a rinse and place it back on your stove.
Microwave the spinach and wash the other veggies
Remove the spinach from its packaging and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. Set the microwave to heat the spinach for 1 to 2 minutes until it is thawed. Don’t worry about draining the excess moisture produced. Next, rinse the mushrooms, carrots, and zucchini. Then, using the shredding disc on your food processor, grate the rinsed vegetables as well as the onion. Now all of your vegetables are prepped to be easily incorporated into the sauce.
Cook the vegetables in a pan
Place your clean skillet back on the stovetop and add the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Turn the heat to medium and throw in the grated veggies, spinach, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir the mixture every 2 to 3 minutes and continue cooking it until the remaining moisture has evaporated. It’s good to note that the veggies will first give off lots of moisture, and the skillet will look wet. Just continue cooking until the liquid evaporates — it will take about 15 minutes.
When the veggies have reduced in volume by about two-thirds, toss in the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the sauce to the vegetables, and stir until well-combined.
Prep the cheese and noodles
Then, set out a medium bowl and add 1 ½ cups of shredded mozzarella, setting ½ cup aside to top the final dish. Add the ricotta, ½ teaspoon of kosher salt, and the black pepper and mix thoroughly.
Now, lay some kitchen towels or paper towels on the counter and remove the lasagna sheets from the water. Place the noodles in a single layer on the towels, and then add another towel on top to blot up the extra moisture. You’re approaching baking time so turn the oven to preheat at 350 F.
Assemble the lasagna ingredients
One of the best parts of this recipe is building the lasagna. It’s kind of like an artist working on a masterpiece but in this case, it’s better because you get to eat lasagna at the end. "Try to keep the layers as even as possible so everything cooks evenly," Rapone suggests. She adds, "Also, don’t overlap the noodles. It’s better to push them out a little and let them go up the sides of your baking dish, if needed, than to overlap them."
Ladle a quarter of the sauce into the 9×13-inch baking dish and then lay three noodles on top. Add half the cheese mixture, and then add another quarter of the sauce. Continue with three more noodles, followed by the remaining cheese mixture, a quarter of the sauce, the last three noodles, the rest of the sauce, and the remaining ½ cup of shredded mozzarella on top.
Bake the lasagna and enjoy it warm
Cover the lasagna with foil or a lid and bake it in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Once your timer goes off, remove the cover and cook it for an additional 15 minutes, or until the mozzarella cheese melts and the lasagna is golden and bubbly.
Let it rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. "I love it with a little fresh chopped basil and some Parmesan or crushed red pepper. I really love garlic bread with this — especially scooping a bite of lasagna onto the bread for one big bite," Rapone says.
- 9 lasagna noodle sheets
- 1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach
- 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 6 cloves garlic, divided
- small handful fresh basil
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 8 ounces mushrooms
- 3 medium carrots
- 2 medium zucchini
- 1 medium onion
- 16 ounces (2 cups) ricotta cheese
- 8 ounces (2 cups) mozzarella cheese, shredded
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Boil about 4 cups of water in a pot.
- Meanwhile, place the lasagna noodle sheets in a 9×13-inch baking dish (this can be the same dish you will use to make the lasagna).
- Pour the boiling water over the noodles and cover the dish with tin foil. Allow the noodles to soak while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
- Chop the fresh basil. Set aside 1 tablespoon of basil for garnish.
- Mince the garlic and divide it into 2 equal parts (you will use ½ in the sauce and ½ with the vegetables).
- Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to a large skillet and heat it on medium.
- Add ½ of the garlic and stir, sautéing for 1 minute.
- Add the tomato paste to the skillet and stir, cooking until it deepens in color.
- Then, add the crushed tomatoes, sugar, ½ teaspoon of salt, and the chopped basil.
- Stir the contents until they are completely combined, then pour the sauce into a bowl and set it aside.
- Give the skillet a quick rinse and wipe it clean.
- Remove the spinach from the package and place it in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes to thaw. (Don’t worry about draining off the moisture.)
- Rinse the mushrooms, carrots, and zucchini and grate them and the onion using the shredding disc on your food processor.
- Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the skillet and heat it on medium.
- Add the grated vegetables, spinach, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.
- Cook the vegetables, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes until they are starting to brown and have reduced by about ⅔. This will take about 15 minutes. (Note that the vegetables will give off a lot of moisture at first and the skillet will look very wet. Just keep cooking until it evaporates.)
- Add the garlic and cook it with the vegetables for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat.
- Add the sauce to the vegetables and stir until well combined.
- Set aside ½ cup of mozzarella. Then, in a medium bowl add the ricotta, the remaining 1 ½ cups mozzarella, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and black pepper and mix thoroughly.
- Lay out a kitchen towel or layered paper towels and spread the lasagna noodles on the towels in a single layer. Place another kitchen towel or paper towel on top and blot up the excess moisture.
- Turn the oven to preheat at 350 F.
- Meanwhile, assemble the lasagna: Ladle about ¼ of the sauce into the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Lay 3 noodles on top of the sauce, top with ½ of the cheese mixture, then add another ¼ of the sauce. Continue layering 3 noodles, the remaining cheese mixture, ¼ of the sauce, the last 3 noodles, the rest of the sauce, and the remaining ½ cup of shredded mozzarella.
- Cover the dish with foil (or a lid if you have one) and bake for 40 minutes.
- After 40 minutes, remove the cover and cook for 15 more minutes, until the mozzarella has melted and the lasagna is bubbly.
- Let the lasagna rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.
- Garnish with fresh chopped basil and serve.