best veggie lasagna
I’ve been mildly chastised, or maybe just slightly ribbed, for not yet posting the recipe for this lasagna. And rightly so – we made this meal for my birthday. In July. Of 2009. I was going to try to share this recipe a few months ago – when chard, zucchini, and summer squash were available in abundance at the farmers’ market. But even though the winter squash is coming out to play now, I find myself thinking longingly of the summer, and all the free time I didn’t properly appreciate before grad school; so I suppose there’s no time like the present to share a great vegetarian lasagna recipe. And my next paper isn’t due for 48 hours, so I have a little time.
Growing up with a galley kitchen, we never had the opportunity (or space) to prepare dishes together. And to be honest, none of us (except Mom) had any inclination to cook much of anything until we had moved out on our own. But I know I love having the chance to cook a meal together whenever we gather at my sister’s house to celebrate birthdays and holidays. I’m perfectly happy sitting in the kitchen prepping veg and catching up. Really!!
I took picture after picture to document the construction of the lasagna, since it was a mostly improvised recipe, using whatever fresh ingredients we had on hand from the farmers’ market or my sister’s CSA box. I had discovered years ago that I preferred my lasagna sans meat, but my usual veggie lasagna is loaded with portobell0s, spinach, cheese, and not much else. The lasagna that was created in my sister’s kitchen last summer is honestly one of the best lasagnas I’ve ever tasted. The vision, execution, and pretty, pretty dishes are entirely attributable to my sister on this one.
We did attempt this dish again this past spring, but we weren’t able to capture the same magic we did that day in July. I really think it was due to a dearth of ricotta – which is something I’m prepared to rectify next go ’round. I’m determined to try, try again until I recreate the best vegetarian lasagna I’ve ever had.
Yields 12 servings
1 small zucchini, halved and thinly sliced
1 small summer squash, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 bunch baby spinach
1/2 bunch swiss chard
1/2 pound button mushrooms
10 to 12 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 1/2 cups jarred marinara sauce
1 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella, shredded
1 cup provolone, shredded
1/4 cup Romano or Parmesan, shredded
12 to 14 no boil lasagna noodles
6 to 8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in small saute pan. Add zucchini, summer squash, and up to 4 cloves of garlic; saute until squash is tender, about five minutes. Remove to bowl and set aside.
- Heat one tablespoon olive oil in small saute pan and add mushrooms and up to 4 cloves of garlic. Saute until tender, five to six minutes. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
- Heat one tablespoon olive oil in small saute pan. Add swiss chard, spinach, and up to 4 cloves of garlic. Saute until greens are wilted, two to three minutes. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
- In the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch baking pan, spread 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce and cover it with a layer of pasta. Pour another cup of sauce over the pasta, followed by all the zucchini/summer squash mixture and half of the mushrooms. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella, half of the provolone, and half of the Romano cheese. Add another layer of pasta and spread the ricotta evenly on top, followed directly by another layer of pasta. Add a cup of tomato sauce and then top with all of the swiss chard/spinach mixture and half of the mushrooms. Add a final layer of pasta and top with one final cup tomato sauce, remaining cheese, and sprinkle with chopped basil.
- Place pan in oven, uncovered, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes after baking before cutting the lasagna.