Ohhhhhhh is this a good one for you! I am all about this lasagna. We have made it a couple times and it is the perfect thing to have hiding in your freezer for a rainy day or a quick dinner. You may look at the amount of time it takes to make it and hesitate, but never fear friends: those couple hours are very well worth the multiple dinners you can pull out of the freezer and reheat in a pinch. As you may have noticed in a recent post, Will has left me for the next three weeks, to gallivant around England. However, being the thoughtful man he is, he wanted to prep me a bunch of dinners before he left, so I could focus my time on working on training with Otis instead of stressing about how it takes me a painfully long time to make dinner. This casserole was one of the things he made, after we had a huge success with it a couple weeks prior. It hits the spot on the “warm, comfy homemade meal” front, but is loaded up with veggies so you don’t feel *too* bad about the entire bag of mozzarella being strewn across the noodles. The eggplant and mushrooms give it that classic lasagna feel, with the addition of bell pepper and zucchini, if you choose, to add a little more texture. It’s a great recipe to have in your arsenal and it’s worth taking a couple hours on a weekend to prep and stock up on!
Cooking Notes: We used cremini mushrooms in place of baby bella. The first time we made it, we included the zucchini, but the second time we omitted it. I prefer it without zucchini (helps control some of the excess liquid) but that could also just be a seasonal preference of mine. We also used an orange bell pepper instead of green, to keep the colors fun! We also chose to use crushed tomatoes instead of tomato sauce. We only used 9 lasagna noodles instead of 15, because of the size/structure of our casserole dish. We also used a 15-oz. tub of ricotta cheese, instead of exactly 2 1/2 cups.
Cheesy Vegetarian Lasagna (from The Kitchen; makes
8 large pieces)
1 onion, diced small
1 8-oz. package cremini mushrooms, diced small
1 small eggplant, diced small
1 bell pepper, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh oregano, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
6-oz. package or 1 small bunch baby spinach, chopped
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
9 dry lasagna noodles
1 15-oz. tub ricotta cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Begin by prepping all your veggies, dicing the onion, mushrooms, eggplant and bell pepper into very very small pieces. Once you have those (and everything else) prepped, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and spray your 9×13″ casserole dish.
Warm about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the onions, cooking until they are sweated and starting to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until they have released all their liquid, about 7-8 minutes. Add the eggplant and bell pepper, cooking until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Make a small circle in the middle of the pan, adding another drizzle (approximately 1 tsp) of olive oil, then add the garlic, salt and spices. Stir until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds, then stir it into the veggie mixture. Scatter the chopped spinach over the veggies, cooking until wilted, about 3-5 minutes, then remove the veggies from the heat.
Spread a few spoonfuls of the crushed tomatoes over the bottom of your baking dish, then layer three lasagna noodles over the sauce, creating a single layer. Spread about 1 cup of ricotta over the noodles, then half the veggies. Next, spread about 1 cup of tomatoes, then 1 cup of mozzarella. Place three more noodles in a single layer, then add almost all of the rest of the ricotta (save a little bit!), the remaining veggies, another cup of sauce and another cup of mozzarella. Top the last three lasagna noodles, then pour on the remaining sauce and dot the top with the last of your ricotta. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour. After an hour, poke the noodles with a knife to check for doneness – the knife should easily slide in. If it doesn’t, recover and cook another 15 minutes. Once the noodles are done, sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over the top and bake, uncovered, until it has melted, another 10-15 minutes. Turn on the broiler and place an oven rack 6″ below the heat. Broil for 1-2 minutes or until mozzarella is bubbling (watch carefully!). Remove from oven and let cool at least 15 minutes. This can be served right away or cut up and frozen for up to 3 months. Enjoy!