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Best Veggie Lasagna

bestveggielasagna1

It’s hellishly hot, I’m running on 5 hours of sleep, and I forgot my laptop charger at work so I’m anxiously watching the battery drain, but at the moment all that matters is this lasagna.

The origins of this lasagna are a losing battle I have with cheese. Aka, I can’t stop buying new varieties of cheese. My latest impulse cheese buy was queso fresco, which, while a delicious cheese, is not a particularly versatile one. I used it once as a topping for shrimp tacos, a second time on top of refried beans, and then watched it go untouched for a week before I decided there had to be some good way to repurpose it. Enter this veggie lasagna.

It turns out crumbled queso fresco mixed with a bit of cottage cheese makes a remarkably good mock ricotta. It also turns out that layering paper thin slices of zucchini creates something similar enough pasta that it’s kind of unsettling. I added regular lasagna sheets too because pasta is delicious, but they were the no boil kind which made assembly super easy.

I haven’t even finished this batch of lasagna, and I’m already eyeing the frozen paneer since I think it’s quite similar to queso fresco. We’ll see. Very, very soon.

I’m putting the recipe under a read more because it’s a bit long, even though the actual process is quite simple.

Recipe ahead.

Best Veggie Lasagna

Make one loaf sized pan of lasagna: 2 huge servings, 3 big servings, 4 regular servings

For the full ingredients list, see the bottom of the recipe.

Preparing the zucchini:

1) Obtain:

  • 1 large zucchini

2) Create long, paper thin slices of zucchini using a vegetable peeler. Discard or save the middle of the zucchini for another use. Add the slices into a bowl with 2 cups of water + 1 tsp salt. This process will remove excess water from the zucchini and prevent it from making the lasagna watery later. After 20 minutes (make the pasta sauce while you wait!), drain and rinse the zucchini, and then pat dry with paper towels, removing as much excess water as possible.

Making the pasta sauce (or you can use 2 cups of premade pasta sauce):

Note: This makes just enough sauce. If you’re a fan of extra saucy lasagna, it might be smart to double the recipe and just store any leftovers.

1) To make the lasagna sauce, heat in a saucepan:

  • 1 tsp oil
  • ¼ a large onion, diced (½ cup diced onion)
  • 1 heaping tsp diced garlic (1-2 cloves)

2) Cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Add:

  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced

3) Continue cooking for 5 minutes, and then add:

  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 13.5 ounce of no salt added tomatoes, crushed
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

4) Cook at medium heat for 15 minutes, or until the sauce is thick. Remove the bay leaf.

5) Add to taste:

  • salt
  • pepper

Lasagna cheese filling:

Again, this is just enough cheese filling. Use 1.5 cups of ricotta cheese if you’re a fan of extra

1) In a bowl, add:

  • Option A: 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • Option B: ½ cup ricotta cheese + ½ cup cottage cheese
  • Option C: 5 ounces crumbled queso fresco + ¼ cup cottage cheese + 2 tbs egg whites

2) Stir in:

  • 2 tbs grated parmesan
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt

3) Cook at medium heat until wilted.

  • 1 cup spinach leaves

Once the spinach cools, chop roughly and stir into the cheese. Set aside.

To assemble the lasagna:

1) First, gather:

  • the prepared zucchini
  • 1 recipe pasta sauce
  • 1 recipe ricotta cheese filling
  • 3 lasagna noodles
  • 1 tbs grated parmesan
  • ¼ cup shredded mozzarella

2) Add ¼ of the pasta sauce (½ cup approximately) to the bottom of a greased 9×5 loaf pan.

3) Top with 1 lasagna noodle.

4) Spread 1/3 of the cheese filling (1/3 cup approximately) over the lasagna noodle and any exposed sauce.

5) Add a layer of the zucchini slices, using approximately ¼ of the slices.

6) Repeat steps 2-5.

7) Repeat steps 2-5. By now you should have used up the cheese, zucchini, and noodles, but have ¼ of the sauce left.

8) Top the lasagna with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with the grated parmesan and shredded mozzarella.

9) Cover the pan with a piece of aluminum foil and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 5 minutes more, or until the mozzarella is melted and bubbly.

Full Ingredients List:

  • 1 tsp oil
  • ¼ a large onion, diced (½ cup diced onion)
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 heaping tsp diced garlic (1-2 cloves)
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 13.5 ounce of no salt added tomatoes, crushed
  • ½ tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese or ½ cup ricotta cheese + ½ cup cottage cheese or 5 ounces crumbled queso fresco + ¼ cup cottage cheese + 2 tbs egg whites
  • 3 tbs parmesan
  • ¼ cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt & pepper
  • no boil lasagna noodles

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