I am reblogging some of our favorite dishes from the past. I first made this dish over a year and a half ago. This lasagna made a veggie lover out of me. If vegetables always tasted like this I would be a full-time vegetarian!
I have a confession. I HATE vegetables. Oh, I eat them to show my children that they should eat their vegetables. But, if I had my way all vegetables would be dripping in cheese sauce or butter. I never willingly choose vegetables if I don’t have to but I serve them every night so that my children get all their vitamins and learn to love them. I choke them down first to get it over with.
I have been trying to stretch myself lately and try things that I normally don’t like. My kids would be happy as vegetarians for the most part except that they love steak. So, I have been contemplating making a few vegetarian dishes to see how we do. I made General Tso’s Tofu a few weeks ago that was amazing. Then I saw this dish from Cherylstyle.com for Noodleless Vegetarian Zucchini Lasagna and thought it looked intriguing. Making the zucchini noodles is similar to how I make my Eggplant Parmigiana so I thought I would give it a try. Anything to get me to eat vegetables has to be amazing.
If this is what vegetables really taste like, sign me up! It was spicy without being overpowering. It had great flavor and I would not have known it was a vegetable spaghetti sauce if someone didn’t tell me. Both kids liked the dish except my son said he would have preferred real lasagna noodles and more Parmesan cheese on top but then he asked for a second helping. Everyone had two slices and there was enough leftover for one large lunch serving.
I used Baby Bella mushrooms as I was told the are a good beginner choice. I don’t like the texture of mushrooms and except for 2-3 large pieces that didn’t get chopped up I ate every one of them. I also added a bit of chopped zucchini that I had leftover. I salted and pressed that out the same way I did the zucchini noodles to get all the moisture out.
I saw pictures of floating vegetarian lasagnas before where all the juice from the vegetables came out during the baking process and ruined the dishes. This recipe has you remove all the excess moisture before baking so all you are left with is the wonderful flavors and a great texture to the sauce.
Amazing Vegetarian Lasagna
- 3 medium zucchini + 1 small zucchini (small one chopped into 1/4″ pieces)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 yellow pepper, seeded and diced
- 8 oz. baby carrots, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb mushrooms, chopped into ¼” pieces
- 1 yellow squash, chopped into ¼” pieces
- 1 (22 oz) jar marinara sauce
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1½ tsp dried basil
- ¾ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 (16 oz) container ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg, beaten
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3+ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
- Preheat to 350 degrees. Spray a 9″x13″ casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Trim off the ends from the medium zucchini and slice it lengthwise with a mandolin, if you have one, into thin noodles. Lightly salt both sides of the zucchini noodles and lay them in a single layer on two layers of paper towels. Prior to adding another layer of zucchini noodles on top to drain put two layers of clean paper towels over and under each layer. When all the zucchini is cut put a cookie sheet on top of all the layers and add a heavy weight such as a large book to help press the layers down.
- The small zucchini can be chopped now. Place it in a bowl lined with paper towels and salt the zucchini, stirring well to distribute the salt over the zucchini. Place 2 paper towels over the zucchini and squeeze lightly. Let this sit while you are making your sauce.
- After your noodles are cut add olive oil to large skillet over medium heat. Add diced red onion, bell pepper and carrots then cook 5-6 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 additional minutes until it becomes fragrant.
- Add mushrooms and squash and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook for 20-25 minutes until all of the liquid given off by the vegetables has completely evaporated from the pan. Stir in marinara sauce, oregano, basil and red pepper flakes then bring the mixture to a slow boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer another 20-25 minutes until the sauce becomes very thick and no liquid remains in the pan. The marinara will be absorbed into the vegetables.
- While the sauce is cooking, stir the ricotta, beaten egg and Parmesan cheese together.
- When the sauce has thickened, remove from heat and spread about ½ cup in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Cover the bottom of the dish with zucchini slices, overlapping slightly and trimming if necessary. Spread half of the ricotta mixture over the zucchini in an even layer then spread half of the vegetable sauce on top. Sprinkle with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, then repeat the layers of zucchini, ricotta, vegetable sauce and mozzarella cheese. Add one final layer of zucchini slices to the top and cover pan with aluminum foil.
- Bake 30 minutes then remove the foil and sprinkle the remaining cup of mozzarella cheese and an additional sprinkling of Parmesan over the top of the zucchini. Return to the oven to bake uncovered an additional 15 minutes then remove and allow it to cool 15 minutes before slicing.