This has got to be one of the best vegetarian lasagnas I’ve ever made (or even tasted). It’s got to be one that’s recorded in blog history.
One of the key things about making lasagna is having enough sauce. Don’t be shy with it! It helps keep everything moist, and if you’ve ever had a dried out lasagna, you know how important that is. I like to use two kinds, a red sauce and a white sauce. The white sauce is easy to whip up from scratch, but if you’re in a pinch or extremely lazy, you can use alfredo sauce in a jar, though they’re not exactly the same thing.
The other thing I prefer about making lasagna… I hate those no-cook noodles, the ones that you put in still hard. It’s weird to me. I grew up watching the biggest pot we had boiling with lasagna noodles, and getting to eat the curly edges that were leftover. What fun is making a lasagna if you don’t get to eat the curly edges first? So, I recommend the noodles that you have to cook before you layer them in… I think they taste better, too.
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced (we prefer baby bella mushrooms, but tend to go with whatever looks the freshest)
perhaps 2 cups? of spinach trimmed
1 onion, thinly sliced
2-3 sprigs of fresh oregano, chopped
1 jar of vegetarian tomato sauce of your choice, preferably something with lots of vegetable chunks in it
lasagna noodles (you probably only need a half box because of all the veggies, unless you have a super deep lasagna pan)
16 oz ricotta cheese
16 oz brick of mozzarella cheese (whole milk or part-skim, not fat-free)
parmesan cheese (optional)
1 small to medium eggplant, sliced lengthwise
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
salt, pepper, dried parsley, dried oregano to taste
Oil for frying
1/2 cup butter
4 tbsp flour
1 cup milk or light cream
1 cup vegetable stock
1/8 tsp salt
about 5 sprigs parsley (optional)
one huge piece of green garlic (optional)
parmesan cheese (optional)
Melt butter, add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Slowly add milk or cream and vegetable stock; stir until smooth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add salt.
If you’ve got some fresh parsley handy, you should grab maybe five sprigs of that and the tops of some green garlic. Don’t chop it in any way. Leave it whole and just toss it into the sauce. Let it cook for a few more minutes on low heat, stirring constantly, then strain off the parsley and garlic. Add a bit of parmesan cheese to the sauce if desired.
Before you can start layering, you’ve got to fry the eggplant because in this recipe, it’s almost like a eggplant parm/lasagna combo.
Mix breadcrumb ingredients of breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, flour, oregano, salt, pepper, and parsley in a flat tray or plate. In a separate tray, scramble the eggs. Take your eggplant slices and coat them one at a time in egg, then dredge them in the breadcrumb mixture.
Pan fry them in a generous amount of oil at medium-high heat until golden brown, about 4 minutes each side. Remove from pan and let them drain on a mesh spatter shield or a paper towel.
Prepare pasta according to package directions. If you’re not using a disposable pan, I recommend that you put down a layer of aluminum foil before you begin for easier cleanup later.
Coat the bottom of the pan with a layer of red sauce, then alternate between vegetables, cheeses, fried eggplant, sauces, and noodles until you run out of ingredients or reach the top of the pan. Toss in the fresh oregano and some parmesan cheese along the way, if you feel so inclined. Be sure to reserve enough sauce and mozzarella cheese to cover the entire top of the pan, otherwise your noodles will be hard and your veggies will dry out.
Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for about 25 minutes at 400 degrees. After 25 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until cheese begins to brown. (The foil on top prevents the cheese from browning too much too quickly.)
Let the lasagna cool for at least 15-20 minutes once it’s out of the oven, or it will be a soupy mess!
If you’re not serving a crowd, I recommend putting a few slices in the fridge for consumption soon, and the rest in the freezer. When freezing the lasagna, make sure that you freeze it in the portion size you’d want to eat it in, since sawing through a frozen casserole is never any fun. Cut slices and put them into little gladware containers, let them cool (until they’re no longer steaming) and then pop them in the freezer for a great meal in a week or a month.