ThanksgivingFilter: Vegetarian lasagna
November 27, 2019 2:56 AM   Subscribe

I need to help prepare today, for baking tomorrow, a vegetarian (not vegan) lasagna. I have never done so. HALP!

Recipes are best so ingredients can be shopped for today. I'd much prefer one that did not include lots of fiddly-bit fresh-herbs-and-oddments and sautee-ing, etc. It can have cheese, it can have jarred sauce, etc.

"Simple, will taste good, be filling, and not feel like the 'obligatory pasta-based semi-side-dish that always seems to exist as the vegetarian option' " was the overall brief given. THANKS!
posted by I_Love_Bananas to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Wouldn't you rather cook meatless moussaka? (This recipe has an overcomplicated tomato sauce, just use canned or whatever)

Alternatively, you can use the moussaka filling between lasagna sheets.
posted by sukeban at 3:42 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

The best vegetarian lasagna is Serious Eats's spinach lasagna, but it's definitely a bit fiddly. But goddamn is it worth it.
posted by saladin at 3:44 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

When I was a vegetarian and a college student with a shared kitchen who didn’t have time for fussy recipes I made a vegetarian lasagna similar to this Alfredo vegetable lasagna recipe all the time and it was always a huge hit.
posted by Waiting for Pierce Inverarity at 3:46 AM on November 27, 2019

My partner does a mushroom and spinach lasagne that is pretty decent. She just cooks up as many varieties of mushrooms as she can lay hands on, steams some spinach, then does layers of mushrooms, then spinach, then pesto, then Mozzarella (or whatever veggie cheese you prefer), then lasagne sheet, repeat all. You can then top off with a béchamel but she will often just put loads more cheese on top. I dare say you could be a bit fancier if you wanted to add other things in.
posted by biffa at 4:22 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Instead of meat, I like what the French call a "duxelle:" ground mushrooms sauteed in butter, maybe with a little finely diced onion, until the mushrooms release their liquid and then reabsorb it. Even white button mushrooms turn dark in the process and have a rich flavor.

One hardly needs a recipe but here's one of many:
posted by tmdonahue at 4:22 AM on November 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

You can avoid the messy bit about pre-boiling the pasta sheets by soaking them for a half hour in cold water instead of boiling - boiling lasagna sheets tends to make them stick together and break up.. Serious Eats gives an explanation for this using baked ziti, and the whole thing is described here for lasagna. The best lasagna I ever had was in Bologna, Italy, and used fresh pasta: it was very simply a few sheets of pasta sandwiching a ragu meat sauce with some ricotta and a simple flour-butter-milk bechamel sauce on top. You can also make a ragu sauce using eggplant instead of meat.
posted by zaelic at 4:34 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

I made a vegetarian lasagne for dinner this week. It was very unfussy. It was also small (served three, in a bread loaf pan) so scale up these ingredients as appropriate.

1/2 jar of sauce ish
1/2 tub of ricotta
Prefab pesto from a tub
(Some goat cheese just because I had it sitting around and it needed to be used)
1 eggplant, diced and left in a colander with salt sounded in it for a half hour
Lasagna noodles

Rinse the salt of the eggplant and part that dry before using.

Mix a few tablespoons of pesto into the ricotta

Layer a few spoonfuls of sauce, noodle, a few spoonfuls of ricotta, eggplant, sauce until you reach the top of the pan. Top with more sauce and shredded mozzarella. Cover with foil, bake 375f for a half hour or so, then take the foil off and give it another 15 until the cheese on top is brown and bubbly.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:40 AM on November 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

OK, here's the secret: if you use enough tomato sauce and let everything sit overnight with foil over the lasagna pan, you DO NOT need to pre-cook or pre-soak your lasagna noodles or buy any of that no-boil garbage. Just buy the regular old lasagna noodles. As long as you make sure each side of the noodles is slathered with a lot of tomato sauce, they will soften up. And by a lot of tomato sauce, I mean a large jar's worth by the time you are done assembling your pan.

I have done this several times for potlucks and it always works. I make a version of this recipe but without the meat.

So basically, start with a pan (I like the glass ones), spread tomato sauce first on the bottom, then lasagna noodles, then more sauce, then cheese (I like a mix of ricotta and mozzarella). That's layer 1.

Add another layer: lasagna noodles, sauce, cheese. Repeat.

Once you have your final layer (it will usually be 3 or 4 layers depending on how deep), then sprinkle with a bit of parmesan or hard cheese if you have it. Now add a layer of foil, and let it SIT in the fridge for several hours. I will often do this before I go to bed, and then pull it out the next day to pop in the oven for dinner. Follow the baking directions on the linked recipe, and be sure to follow the parts about when to remove the foil.

The fussiest I ever get with adding veggies to this is maybe some chopped onions/garlic and some frozen spinach. Don't overthink this. I roll with a crowd of varied tastes, and the pan is always empty by the end of every potluck I host.
posted by mostly vowels at 4:50 AM on November 27, 2019 [7 favorites]

No-boil lasagna noodles are a thing that exists.

In fact, the recipe I have found for you uses them. There is some herb-chopping to be done, but you can totally get away with that being the only thing you chop; the recipe uses butternut squash and mushroom for the other veggie ingredients, which is suitably autumnal, and you can totally get pre-sliced mushrooms and pre-cubed butternut squash. (The original recipe uses slices of squash, but I've looked at the way they prepare the squash and you can get away with using pre-cubed squash from the supermarket; just make sure you get two pounds, and you may need to adjust the cooking time for the squash; the time may be different.) Best of all - you can make this ahead: make it up to the point at which you'd be putting it in the oven, then cover it over and put it in the fridge. Then the next day all you have to do is bake it for about an hour. This serves 8 people.


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups chopped onions
1/2 pound crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced (about 3 cups)
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 5 1/2 cups)
1 14-ounce can vegetable broth
4 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
4 tablespoons sliced fresh sage, divided
3 15-ounce containers whole-milk ricotta cheese
4 cups grated mozzarella cheese, divided
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
4 large eggs
Olive oil
1 9-ounce package no-boil lasagna noodles

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté until soft, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to high; add mushrooms and cook until tender, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer mushroom mixture to bowl; set aside.

Add squash, broth, 3 tablespoons thyme, and 3 tablespoons sage to same skillet. Cover and simmer over medium heat until squash is just tender, about 6 minutes. Uncover and cook until squash is very soft but still retains shape, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, and remaining 1 tablespoon thyme and 1 tablespoon sage in large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper; mix in eggs.

Brush 13x9x2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with oil. Spread 1 cup ricotta mixture over bottom. Arrange 3 noodles on top. Spread 1 3/4 cups ricotta mixture over noodles. Arrange 1 1/3 cups squash mixture over. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup mushrooms and 1 cup mozzarella. Top with 3 noodles, then 1 3/4 cups ricotta mixture, half of remaining squash, 1/2 cup mushrooms, and remaining 1 cup mozzarella. Repeat with noodles, 1 3/4 cups ricotta mixture, remaining squash, and remaining mushrooms. Top with 3 noodles. Spread remaining ricotta mixture over; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Cover with oiled foil.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake lasagna, covered, 35 minutes. Uncover; bake until heated through, about 25 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. DO AHEAD:The lasagna can be assembled one day ahead and refrigerated.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:42 AM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

saladin almost has it. This is the serious eats lasagna to go with. It's been a hit every time I've made it, has the duxelle for umami, and all the bechamel. Getting hungry just thinking about it.
posted by bfranklin at 6:03 AM on November 27, 2019

Jacquilynne sent me a recipe for mushroom lasagne that has been a showstopper whenever I've made it. Lasagne noodles with layers of mushroom filling and fontina & parmesan cheese. The filling is roasted porcini mushrooms and basic white mushrooms sauteed with butter and garlic, thickened with rou, deglazed with white vermouth & mushroom stock. It's a bit thin, so I added a layer of creamed butternut squash on the bottom (cooked butternet squash thickened with a little roux). Not my recipe, you can memail her if you want it.
NYTimes mushroom lasagne
Food & Wine mushroom lasagne

I no longer eat dairy and have made lasagne without cheese. The filling must be very rich - enough fat in it to make up for the lovely mouthfeel of melty cheese. Butternut squash with sliced roasted summer squash and mushrooms, or a combination of roasted and pureed asparagus both work. A friend makes a vegan dish with rich tomato sauce and layers of polenta, cooked with add-ins and cooled on cookie sheets to get set.
posted by theora55 at 6:10 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thanks all!! So hungry now!!
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:10 AM on November 27, 2019

I'd much prefer one that did not include lots of fiddly-bit fresh-herbs-and-oddments and sautee-ing, etc.

If you really want a quick lasagne with no sauteeing or fiddling with things, you can just do the side of the pasta box recipe with no meat. I think every box of lasagne has a recipe on the side. You don't need vegetables to replace the meat, if you don't want to sautee, just leave the meat out. You can get a jarred sauce with mushrooms if you want a few veggies with no prep. It's just basically spreading a few layers of cheeses and popping it in the oven. Super easy. (Get the best jarred sauce you can.) It won't be gourmet but of course it will be tasty.
posted by nantucket at 6:10 AM on November 27, 2019

Sounds like you've already got good options, but in case you want an extra for the future, this Splendid Table version with squash, walnuts, kale and sage makes an exceptional main course for any winter dinner party.
posted by tizzie at 6:59 AM on November 27, 2019

For your future vegan lasagne needs, this is the best one I've had and it is super easy to make.
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 7:07 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

I heartily endorse adding some different cheeses to any lasagne. The goat cheese and fontina (my personal fave) suggestions above are spot-on!
posted by sarajane at 8:29 AM on November 27, 2019

I have successfully adapted Virginia's Easy Lasagna for vegetarians by simply substituting a package of frozen spinach for the meat, and then otherwise cooking as directed. Another advantage of this recipe is that it does not require pre-cooking the noodles. I do usually throw in a bit more cheese than the recipe requires, though.
posted by ubiquity at 10:08 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Depending on "how" vegetarian you want it to be, be wary of chicken stock, cheeses with rennet, etc. I only became cognizant of this dating a strict vegeterian. Even cooking utensils and dishes are separated (at least to a healthy degree of OCD).
posted by hillabeans at 12:31 PM on November 27, 2019

Heyyy, I am not a vegetarian, but I know many vegetarians, and am also sitting next to one as I type. On their behalf, I must inform you that while it's more work, in order for this to meet the not feel like the 'obligatory pasta-based semi-side-dish that always seems to exist as the vegetarian option part of the brief, you MUST put more in the lasagne than cheese, noodles and sauce. "Spinach or mushrooms, at least, but the more vegetables, the better!" says my companion.

Just couldn't let you go forward on this quest without this information.
posted by JuliaIglesias at 1:23 PM on November 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

secret ingredient to vegetarian lasagne that everyone really loves (not just because it's there and it's hot and cheesy, but would eat even if a meat one were available) is: smoked gouda grated up in your filling. Huge savoriness boost.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:36 PM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

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