Vegetarian Lasagna with summer squash and baby spinach that is wonderfully healthy, nutritious and makes a great make ahead meal.
I originally saw this recipe in Rachel Ray magazine which an also be found here. This dish caught my attention because I knew that my summer garden would yield lots of zucchini and yellow squash and I am always looking for creative ways to use summer produce. I love how easy this vegetarian lasagna is to customize and I can make this on a Sunday and have dinner for several nights. Additionally, the large amount of basil gives the finished product such a fresh, inviting summery flavor and it makes it difficult to stop with just one serving. Of course, you could switch up the herbs, but when it comes to gardening the one thing that always thrives for me are herbs, so for me basil is plentiful.
Even if you are not vegetarian, give this vegetarian lasagna a try because the combination of herbs, cheese and these wonderful vegetables really makes this a hearty meal. You will not miss the meat.
I actually found the original recipe a little unclear. It instructs not to use the no boil noodles, but it does not indicate to boil the noodles. The first time I made it, I did not boil the noodles, but the next time I chose to the boil the noodles. It actually turned out fine either way, but with the boiled noodles lasagna was more moist as the noodles did not soak up so much sauce. I would suggest if you follow the original recipe and do not boil the noodles, use more sauce than what it calls for. Additionally, in my modifications I omitted the eggplant (did not have any), did not use the jarred roasted red peppers and switched out baby spinach for the Swiss chard.
Now, let’s discuss the sauce. The choice here is up to you between home-made and store bought. You can truly make this your own by using your own favorite home-made sauce. However, in a pinch any jarred sauce will work and my favorite is Barilla Tomato and Basil.
Because this dish calls for fresh zucchini and yellow squash, it is important to follow the step of salting both zucchini and squash and letting them drain. If that step is omitted, the lasagna will be too wet. I usually let them sit for at least 20 minutes, but letting them drain longer is perfectly fine.
To make this go quickly, I first make an assembly line of all of my ingredients and prep my glass pan by adding some sauce. At that point, it is a fairly fast process of layering noodles, cheese, vegetables and sauce until it is all gone and the pan can’t handle anymore ingredients. The pan does get VERY full, but it all settles down once it bakes.
When it comes out of the oven, it is bubbly, smells divine and the cheese forms a lovely crust.
I hope you give this vegetarian lasagna a try and let me know how you like it!
- 3/4 pound zucchini, thinly sliced on an angle
- 3/4 pound yellow squash, thinly sliced on an angle
- 1 container (16 oz.) ricotta
- 1 cup grated Parmesan
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup basil, leaves stripped and chopped
- 4 cups (from two 24-oz. jars) marinara sauce
- 16 lasagna noodles (from a 16-oz. box; do not use no-boil noodles)
- 2 lbs. mozzarella, grated (about 8 cups)
- 1 lb baby spinach
- Boil the noodles according to package directions.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Place the zucchini in a colander. Sprinkle with salt and toss well to coat.
- Spread in an even layer on paper towels. Repeat with the yellow squash; let stand 20 minutes. Pat dry.
- In a bowl, mix the ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan, the eggs and the basil; season with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper and mix until combined.
- Spread 1 cup marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with 4 lasagna noodles in a single layer. Top with the zucchini, then 4 more noodles. Spread 1 1/2 cups sauce, then half the ricotta mixture over the noodles; top with 2 cups mozzarella. Top with half of the spinach, yellow squash, 4 more noodles and 1 1/2 cups sauce. Top with the zucchini squash and the remaining spinach. Spread with the remaining ricotta mixture; top with 2 cups mozzarella, 4 more noodles and the remaining 4 cups mozzarella. Sprinkle the lasagna with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan.
- Place the dish on a large, foil-lined rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake until the cheese is browned (tent with foil if browning too quickly), the juices bubble around the edges of the dish and a knife inserted into the center of the lasagna goes in easily, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let the lasagna rest at least 15 minutes before serving.