A Trick For Better Vegetable Lasagna

There’s too much bad vegetable lasagna in the world. You know what we’re talking about: slippery noodles sitting in a puddle of their own juice, with soggy mushrooms spilling right out. It doesn’t have to be this way! Vegetable lasagna can be great if it’s made well.

The cheap, quick, painless solution? Cook your vegetables separately. Vegetables give off a lot of moisture as they cook, but that doesn’t mean your dish needs to end up watery. If you choose your vegetables wisely (our recipe has mushrooms, zucchini, onion and spinach) and prepare them ahead of time, you’ll end up with a finished lasagna that’s moist but not soggy.

It’s also important not to overload you vegetable lasagna. Having a proper amount of vegetables will help the lasagna maintain its shape, and will keep everything moist, but not watery. As you’re creating layers, don’t worry if it looks more sparse than you’d think. Even if you can see noodle showing through in some places, there will still plenty of veggies in each bite once your dish is complete. When you’re finished, you’ll have a meal that vegetarians and meat eaters will both adore.

vegetable lasagna with cous cous

Vegetable Lasagna Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 zucchini
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ lb fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 15 oz whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 Tbsps capers
  • 2 Tbsps tomato paste 
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 oz spinach
  • 12 lasagna noodles 
  • 1 24-oz jar marinara sauce 
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

Prepare the ingredients: Wash and dry the fresh produce. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Heat a large pot of water ¾ of the way full of salted water; cover and heat to boiling on high. Thinly slice the mushrooms. Halve, peel and medium dice the onion. Halve the zucchini lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise. Peel and roughly chop 4 cloves of garlic. Thinly slice the mozzarella cheese. Season the ricotta cheese with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. 

Make the vegetable filling: In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the sliced mushrooms in an even layer and cook, without stirring, 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the diced onion, sliced zucchini and chopped garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes, or until browned and slightly softened. Add the capers, tomato paste, and as much of the red pepper flakes as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, or until thoroughly coated and fragrant. Add ¼ cup of water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened and the water has cooked off. Turn off the heat. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Cook the lasagna noodles: Meanwhile, cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions. The noodles should be just shy of al dente since they will cook a little bit more while the lasagna bakes. 

Assemble the lasagna: Spoon about ½ cup marinara into the bottom of a 13×9 baking dish and spread into an even layer. Evenly top with 3 lasagna noodles, ⅓ of the cooked vegetable mixture, ⅓ of the seasoned ricotta* and about 1/2 cup marinara*. Repeat the layers of noodles, cooked vegetables, ricotta and marinara twice. Top with a final layer of 3 lasagna noodles and the remaining marinara. Evenly top with the sliced mozzarella cheese and half the grated parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. 

*Chef’s Tip: Dollop a little bit of ricotta by the spoonful across the layer in the baking dish, top with the marinara and then use a spatula to smooth both out into an even layer. It’s more than okay if the layers mix a little as you go.  

Bake the lasagna & serve your dish: Bake 15 to 20 minutes**, or until lightly browned and the cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with the remaining parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

**Chef’s Tip: You can assemble the lasagna up to a day ahead. However, if you bake the lasagna after taking it straight from the refrigerator, it may need to bake a few extra minutes to warm all the way through.

This recipe comes from Blue Apron Chef Lisa Appleton, a noted expert when it comes to baked noodles.