My Veggie Lasagna

This is for all my friends who ask how I make my lasagna. I hope this helps you duplicate what you've enjoyed at our table!

With a little olive oil (I spritz it and don't measure), gently saute' all your veggies. In this deep pot I have onion, mushrooms, red and green pepper, yellow squash, zucchini, riced cauliflower, riced broccoli, and fresh baby spinach leaves (I pull the long stems off).

I used a frozen bag of riced veggies, one sweet onion, one large tub sliced fresh mushrooms, one large zucchini, one large yellow squash, 2/3s of the fresh peppers (I had already used part of each for homemade thousand island dressing, so this used them up), and one large tub of organic fresh baby spinach. But quantities can be adjusted per your taste. Other veggies can be added or some left out. I don't always make it exactly the same and this is a very adaptable "recipe."

After the veggies have cooked down some (but are not too soft), add the sauce and let the pot simmer while you prepare the eggplant...

I like to slice it and layer it in the lasagna. First, I salt it on paper towels to get some of the excess water out before baking. Then I lay the slices on olive oil sprayed, foil lined cookie sheets. I bake them at 350 or 400 degrees until they are fully cooked and even slightly browned. Watch them more closely if you bake at a higher temperature. Don't slice them too thick, but too thin will result in paper-like slices after baking. And they can stick to the foil if they are too thin. None of my slices are ever exactly the same. And it doesn't matter. 

That's all the cooking you're going to do to prep for the lasagna. Once the eggplant is done, you can start layering. These pictures show the order in which I layer. 

I always want cheese on one side and sauce on the other side. I use the no boil pasta so I want plenty of moisture to help them become tender in the oven. It's also really easy to spread ricotta cheese on the hard pasta rather than soft from boiling. I do not mix my cheeses. I do not add egg or parsley. I layer each on top of the other and sprinkle some seasoning or sometimes fresh basil over the cheese. I use whole ricotta because I like the creamier texture. But you can use the part skim to save calories if you want to. I've used both and it's good both ways. (I had to buy small containers of ricotta this time because they had sold out of the larger ones.)

Sauce is your first layer. Pasta noodles second. Ricotta is spread on the pasta with the back of a spoon (as thin or thick as you like). Then I very generously add mozzarella, parmesan and Italian blend cheeses and my seasoning (or basil). This time I used the bread dipping seasoning from Publix. It has garlic and parmesan and some basil in it. 

On top of the cheeses I layer the sliced eggplant and then more sauce (with the veggies in it). And continue the layers this way until you get close to the top layer. For the top layer only, you will spread ricotta on the pasta, but then the sauce and lastly the cheese so there will be melted cheese on top.

I always use DEEP foil pans so I can make several layers (and throw them away or send leftovers home with friends). Once the lasagna is finished, you can freeze it unbaked, refrigerate it to bake later, or put it right into the oven.

Here again, you can bake at any temperature between 350 and 425 degrees from the fridge. (Just bake it longer at 350 if you put it in frozen.) I like to cook it slower if I have time. I don't bake it for any specific time. I just check it frequently to see if it's getting hot, brown and bubbly. For a large pan, you will want to bake it about 45 minutes at 350 and possibly even an hour. Ovens are not all calibrated the same. If you want to bake it longer and it's getting too brown, just lay a piece of loose foil over the top. You can tent it to keep it from laying right on the cheese. But if you bake at the lower temp, you shouldn't really have a problem. You just want to make sure the pasta is completely done and it's nice and hot. It will serve more easily if you let it rest for two or three minutes after removing it from the oven.

I do not try to dish it out with a spatula. I use a shallow, wide, metal serving spoon because I make mine very saucy and cheesy. And it's not going to stand up on a serving utensil. But I believe it's my generous portions of sauce and cheese that make it taste so good.

I love the veggies so much more than meat, but because a lot of people do want meat in or with their lasagna, I usually put some sweet Italian Sausage links in the crock pot with more Prego sauce and cook on low until they are super tender. Then I serve sausage links on the side with the veggie lasagna. But they are optional.

This lasagna not only freezes well, but I think it might even be better reheated the second day. Today I made two of the large deep pans. And then I had enough ingredients left to make three smaller size foil pans that are more than enough for John and me to have for dinner three separate times. It's also nice to have a pan or two in the freezer for when you want to take a meal to a family spontaneously or have friends over. 

I forgot to take a "finished product" photo because we were hungry. So I took this photo of what was left after we both had a generous portion with a salad. It is a bit of a mess now. It looks like half of it is left. But it's really less than half because the pan is deep and it was all the way to the top before we ate. 

Sorry I didn't take a better picture. 
It was so much prettier before we dug in!

Every time I make lasagna for anyone, they always tell me it's the best lasagna they have ever eaten. And I laugh because I don't make the sauce. I don't boil the pasta noodles. I don't have a special recipe. I just throw stuff together. 

The point is ... so can you! 

Once you do it a time or two, you won't even have to look at my instructions. Let me know if you try it! I know. I know. You really just want me to make it for you. I get it.