There’s more room than you might think to squeeze vegetables into this classic dish! This loaded veggie lasagna is the perfect freezer-friendly meal for meatless Mondays.
To be totally honest, this is a recipe I make when I’m feeling wealthy- somewhat in money, but primarily in time. I’m not going to downplay how long this recipe takes to make. I’m talking a couple of hours active time in the kitchen for sure, plus cleanup. Dishes are going to get used. Slicing is going to go down. Assembly can be meticulous.
But the reward at the end is a seriously delicious, vegetable-packed lasagna that doesn’t make you feel guilty afterward, despite how inherently decadent it is.
While I chose to go with a classic zucchini, squash, and bell pepper combination for my loaded veggie lasagna, there are no hard and fast rules for what vegetables to include. Go nuts! Many vegetarian lasagna recipes, for instance, include eggplant. Eggplant is one of the few foods I outright reject; it makes me want to die. But if it’s your jam, get it in there! Just make sure that you end up with 8-10 total cups of sliced vegetables, no matter what you decide to use.
One thing that may stand out as strange about this recipe is the use of black beans in the red sauce. These are totally optional but I do recommend you give them a shot. Their function is to add a toothsome, protein-y kick to replace the lack of meat in this recipe. Not that they will trick you into thinking that this recipe has any ground beef, but they do add a certain similar heartiness.
If planning to freeze your loaded veggie lasagna, be sure to bake it first. Cut uneaten lasagna into equal square portions and let cool completely. Place each piece on aluminum foil and tightly wrap. Freeze until solid, and then place in a labeled freezer bag. They will last at least 3 months! When ready to eat, place wrapped lasagna pieces into a 400 degree oven and bake until warmed through. It’s best to thaw pieces in the fridge or counter for a few hours; if you do, it will take 20-30 minutes to reheat. But sometimes that lasagna craving hits you when you least expect it and haven’t planned for it. It’s totally ok to just toss them into the oven still frozen- just know that it may take up an hour to reheat.
As a side note about how this is categorized, I went with “American recipe” over “Italian recipe” because, while Americans may consider lasagna an Italian dish, this particular recipe is so far removed from traditional Italian lasagna as to be almost unrecognizable. It is a truly American take on the recipe and that’s not a bad thing! Traditionally, an Italian lasagna has bechamel sauce (no ricotta!), a ragu sauce with a quality meat component, with nothing in the way of vegetables. But don’t you worry- this take on a classic is a winner nonetheless.
Loaded Veggie Lasagna
There's more room than you might think to squeeze vegetables into this classic dish! This loaded veggie lasagna is the perfect freezer-friendly meal for meatless Mondays.
For roasted vegetables
- 2 medium zucchini (about 3-4 cups after slicing)
- 2 medium summer squash (about 3-4 cups after slicing)
- 1 large red bell pepper (2-3 cups after slicing)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- salt + pepper to taste
For ricotta mix
- 16 oz frozen spinach
- 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 1.5 tbsp)
- 15 oz container ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
- 2 1/2 - 3 cups marinara sauce (preferrably homemade)
- 1 15 oz can black beans (no salt added)
- 12-16 lasagna noodles
- 4 cups shredded mozzarella
Prepare Roasted Vegetables:
Preheat the oven to 450. Grease a large roasting pan.
Slice zucchini and squash into medallions, and roughly dice bell pepper. Place in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Place vegetables on greased pan in a single layer. Roast for 30-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Once done, lower oven temperature to 400 degrees.
Prepare Ricotta and Marinara:
While the vegetables roast, defrost frozen spinach.
Squeeze as much water as possible from your spinach. Combine in a medium bowl with ricotta, minced garlic, and egg. Add chia seeds if you feel that your mix is too watery- they will absorb the water and help it hold together.
Drain black beans. Combine beans and marinara in a separate bowl.
Begin boiling a large pot of water. Grease a 9x13 lasagna pan. Spread 1/3 of the marinara and bean mixture on the bottom.
Boil lasagna noodles. I prefer to do this 4 or 5 (whatever fits in the bottom of your pan) at a time to prevent them from sticking together.
When noodles are done boiling, arrange them in a single layer on top of the sauce. Top with 1/2 of the ricotta mix, 1/2 of the roasted vegetables and 1 cup of cheese.
Spread another third of the sauce and bean mixture on top. Boil 4 or 5 more noodles. Once done, layer them on top of the sauce.
Spread the rest of the ricotta mixture over the noodles. Top with the rest of the veggies and 1 more cup cheese.
Boil your last layer of noodles. Place them on top of the veggie and cheese layer. Top with last third of sauce and remaining 2 cups of cheese.
Cover pan with foil. Bake, covered, at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake for another 15 minutes, or until cheese is compltely melted. Broil for an additional 5 minutes, if desired.
If planning to freeze, let lasagna cool completely. Cut into individual pieces and wrap tightly in foil. Freeze until solid.
When ready to reheat, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook from frozen for 50-60 minutes or from partially thawed from 20-30 minutes.
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