Vegetarian lasagna

This hearty and delicious lasagna makes a satisfying meal for a large group. Most people won’t even miss the meat! You can assemble this the day before and refrigerate, then bake the next day.

The sauce:

1/2c diced fresh mushrooms
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3c each diced carrot, green pepper, and celery
1/4c olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried Italian herb blend
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 piece lemon peel (perhaps 1/4 of a lemon worth)
1-28oz can diced or crushed tomatoes, with juice
1-28oz can pureed tomatoes
1-6oz can tomato paste
1c dry red wine
Worcestershire sauce*

* Omit this if you are a strict vegetarian because it contains anchovies.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the vegetables. Sauté over medium heat, stirring, until the onion is transparent and the garlic is showing a faint trace of brown. Add the bay, herbs, and pepper and stir for a moment. Add the 3 tomato items and then stir in the lemon peel and wine. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes or until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Remove the bay leaf and lemon peel and stir in a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Taste and add salt if needed.

The assembly and final cooking:

1 lb lasagna noodles
1/2c chopped onion
1 TB olive oil
1-1/2 lbs frozen chopped spinach
8 oz sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4c chopped fresh parsley
2 lb ricotta cheese
3 eggs
1/2 lb mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4lb parmesan, Romano, or asiago cheese, grated
1 recipe sauce (above) at room temperature

Put the spinach in a colander and allow to thaw and drain. Use your fingers to squeeze out as much of the remaining water as possible.

Sauté the mushrooms in the oil for a few minutes and then add the onions. Continue until the onions are wilted and the mushrooms have given up their water and the water has boiled off (or else the lasagna will be soggy). Allow to cool.

Mix the ricotta, parmesan, spinach, beaten eggs, and mushroom/onion mixture. Add some black pepper and taste for salt. If you do not want to taste raw eggs, add them at the end after you have corrected the salt.

Cook the lasagna noodles in boiling salted water for about 2/3 of the time recommended on the package. This keeps them firm and easy to handle – they will finish cooking later. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Spread a thin layer of olive oil on the bottom of a 14x10x3 inch lasagna pan (or use 2 smaller pans). Top with a single layer of noodles, cutting the noodles if needed to fill gaps – do not overlap. Spread a layer of the cheese mixture on the noodles, sprinkle on some mozzarella, and top with sauce. Repeat additional  layers in the same order. Ideally you will end with a layer of noodles with a final layer of sauce over them, but it’s not critical as long as the topmost layer is sauce.

Note: I always have some leftover noodles. Just save them and use in soup, etc.

Cover the pan with foil. You can cook it immediately or refrigerate for up to a day. Bake, covered, at 350f for 45 minutes (50 if it had been refrigerated). Remove the foil and bake for another 15 min. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 min before serving.

Explore posts in the same categories: Pasta, Vegetarian

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