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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Ann Arbor, MI!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali See what I'm eating this week

Hearty, Healthy Vegetarian Lasagna

For my last recipe of 2011, I thought it would be fun to revamp the first recipe I ever created on my own: healthy vegetarian lasagna.

The husband absolutely loves lasagna, I think it might be his favorite italian meal. We rarely ordered it at restaurants though, for two reasons:

1) It’s hard to find good vegetarian lasagna at most restaurants

2) Most veggie-friendly lasagna recipes are made with white pasta (no fiber), way too much cheese (too much fat/calories), and barely any veggies (which makes eating it kind of monotonous)

I really wanted to make a healthy version of lasagna without cutting the flavor, but I couldn’t find a recipe for lasagna that sounded good anywhere!

So, with some massive encouragement from the husband (I was a timid beginner cook at the time), I started experimenting. I knew I could get pretty far using common sense: use a tomato based sauce and traditional italian cheeses, and bake it in the oven. I made healthy modifications that I snuck into the recipe: using whole wheat lasagna noodles instead of white, and adding more veggies to increase the nutritional value.

I remember serving the husband his first portion of the newly cooked lasagna, straight out of the oven. I remember staring at his face while he took a bite, praying that it would taste good. I remember being nervous. And then I remember the big smile on his face when he said, “this is the best lasagna I’ve ever had.”

Success! And I was able to make it much healthier than traditional versions: double bonus! This meal has quickly become a favorite at dinner parties and potlucks, and is a great, hearty, one-dish meal.

Ingredients

  • Whole wheat lasagna noodles (uncooked)
  • 4 fresh, organic zucchini or corguettes
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 bag of organic baby spinach
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • Garlic; minced
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried basil
  • Fresh thyme
  • 1-28oz. can of crushed tomatoes (with Italian spices added–like basil, oregano, etc. if you can find that)
  • 1 jar ready-made spaghetti sauce (I like the tomato basil marinara from Trader Joe’s!)
  • Olive oil and cooking spray
  • 1.5 cups fat-free ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup low-fat shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan or 4 cheese blend (I used this shredded 4 cheese blend from Trader Joe’s that has Parmesan, Asiagio, Mozzarella and Fontina)

Directions – Noodles

  1. Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions (leave them al dente)–salt the water, if you like.
  2. Once they’re done, lay them flat on foil and set aside.

.

Directions – Vegetables

  1. Quarter all 4 zucchini and thinly slice.
  2. Thinly slice one of the red bell peppers (I cut the slices in half so they’re not so long).
  3. Mince 3 cloves of garlic.
  4. Heat about 1 tbsp. olive oil in a pan over medium heat (I might have used a little less–maybe 2-3 tsp), saute the garlic, zucchini, red pepper together.
  5. Add the whole bag of baby spinach at the end (when the zucchini/red pepper are almost done cooking).
  6. Sprinkle oregano, fresh thyme, and dried basil to taste on top, stir, and let it cook a couple more min.
  7. When the spinach is cooked, turn the heat down to low.
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I loved using fresh herbs mixed with dried herbs to season the vegetables. Gave it a slow cooked and bright flavor at the same time.
.

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Directions – Sauce

  1. Mince 2-3 cloves of garlic.
  2. Dice half a red onion (If it’s a small onion, dice the whole thing).
  3. Dice the other red bell pepper.
  4. Heat 2-3 tsp olive oil in a pot over medium heat.
  5. Saute the red onion, garlic, and red pepper for a few min (until the onion starts turning a little translucent).
  6. Add the crushed tomatoes.
  7. Add dried oregano (I’m not sure how much I put–I basically sprinkled it over the top and stirred it in–maybe 2 tsp.).
  8. Once the sauce is heated through, turn the heat down on low.

Directions – Cheese

  1. Combine 1.5 cups of the ricotta cheese and 1 cup of the mozzarella in a bowl. Keep the Parmesan separate.

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Assembly

I used a casserole dish to assemble the lasagna in–and sprayed the bottom of the dish with cooking spray.

Put a layer of sauce at the bottom of the dish (I did about half of the pre-made spaghetti sauce and half of the sauce I made myself–I did this for every layer except the top).

Put a layer of the lasagna noodles.

Put another layer of the sauce (1/2 pre-made, 1/2 self made).

Put a layer of the veggies.

Take the cheese mixture, and put little crumbles of the cheese mixture all over the veggie layer (don’t try to spread it out, the little crumbles seemed to work well).

.
Put another layer of the lasagna noodles.
.
Layer of sauce (if you have enough use the self made, otherwise add in the pre-made as needed).
.
Layer of veggies.
.
Cheese mixture crumbles.
.
Layer of lasagna noodles.
.
Layer of sauce (only self made).
.
Sprinkle the (1 cup) Parmesan cheese all over the top.
.
.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 min.
.
Uncover and bake for 5 min. longer until the cheese has melted.
.
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It’s quite a process to make (takes about 2 hours including the baking/cooking time), but it’s so worth it in the end! And it makes for great leftovers. I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we did!
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Hearty, Healthy Vegetarian Lasagna

Prep Time: 60 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 12 servings

Serving Size: 1 huge lasagna square (1/12th of the recipe)

Calories per serving: 260

Fat per serving: 9.3g

Nutritional Info Per Serving: 260 Calories, 9.3g Fat, 421mg Sodium, 28.1g Carbs, 5.7g Fiber, 6g Sugar, 17.4g Protein

Ingredients

  • Whole wheat lasagna noodles (uncooked)
  • 4 fresh, organic zucchini or corguettes
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 bag of organic baby spinach
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • Garlic; minced
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried basil
  • Fresh thyme
  • 1-28oz. can of crushed tomatoes (with Italian spices added–like basil, oregano, etc. if you can find that)
  • 1 jar ready-made spaghetti sauce (I like the tomato basil marinara from Trader Joe’s!)
  • Olive oil and cooking spray
  • 1.5 cups Fat-free ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup Low-fat shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup Shredded Parmesan or 4 cheese blend (I used this shredded 4 cheese blend from Trader Joe’s that has Parmesan, Asiagio, Mozzarella and Fontina)

Instructions

    Noodles
  1. Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions (leave them al dente)–salt the water, if you like.
  2. Once they’re done, lay them flat on foil and set aside.
    Vegetables
  1. Quarter all 4 zucchini and thinly slice.
  2. Thinly slice one of the red bell peppers (I cut the slices in half so they’re not so long).
  3. Mince 3 cloves of garlic.
  4. Heat about 1 tbsp. olive oil in a pan over medium heat (I might have used a little less–maybe 2-3 tsp), saute the garlic, zucchini, red pepper together.
  5. Add the whole bag of baby spinach at the end (when the zucchini/red pepper are almost done cooking).
  6. Sprinkle oregano, fresh thyme, and dried basil to taste on top, stir, and let it cook a couple more min.
  7. When the spinach is cooked, turn the heat down to low.
    Sauce
  1. Mince 2-3 cloves of garlic.
  2. Dice half a red onion (If it’s a small onion, dice the whole thing).
  3. Dice the other red bell pepper.
  4. Heat 2-3 tsp olive oil in a pot over medium heat.
  5. Saute the red onion, garlic, and red pepper for a few min (until the onion starts turning a little translucent).
  6. Add the crushed tomatoes.
  7. Add dried oregano (I’m not sure how much I put–I basically sprinkled it over the top and stirred it in–maybe 2 tsp.).
  8. Once the sauce is heated through, turn the heat down on low.
    Cheese
  1. Combine 1.5 cups of the ricotta cheese and 1 cup of the mozzarella in a bowl. Keep the Parmesan cheese separate.
    Assembly
  1. I used a casserole dish to assemble the lasagna in–and sprayed the bottom of the dish with cooking spray.
  2. Put a layer of sauce at the bottom of the dish (I did about half of the pre-made spaghetti sauce and half of the sauce I made myself–I did this for every layer except the top).
  3. Put a layer of the lasagna noodles.
  4. Put another layer of the sauce (1/2 pre-made, 1/2 self made).
  5. Put a layer of the veggies.
  6. Take the cheese mixture, and put little crumbles of the cheese mixture all over the veggie layer (don’t try to spread it out, the little crumbles seemed to work well).
  7. Put another layer of the lasagna noodles.
  8. Layer of sauce (if you have enough use the self made, otherwise add in the pre-made as needed).
  9. Layer of veggies.
  10. Cheese mixture crumbles.
  11. Layer of lasagna noodles.
  12. Layer of sauce (only self made).
  13. Sprinkle the (1 cup) Parmesan cheese all over the top.
  14. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 min.
  15. Uncover and bake for 5 min. longer until the cheese has melted.
http://www.pickyeaterblog.com/healthy-veggie-lasagna/

Noodles
1. Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions (leave them al dente) – salt the water if you like
2. Once they’re done, lay them flat on foil and set aside
Veggies
1. Quarter all 4 zucchini and thinly slice
2. Thinly slice one of the red bell peppers (I cut the slices in half so they’re not so long)
3. Mince 3 cloves of garlic
4. Heat about 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat (I might have used a little less – maybe 2-3 tsp), saute the garlic, zucchini, red pepper together
5. Add the whole bag of baby spinach at the end (when the zucchini/red pepper are almost done cooking)
6. Sprinkle oregano/dried basil to taste on top, stir, and let it cook a couple more min
7. When the spinach is cooked, turn the heat down to low
Sauce
1. Mince 2-3 cloves of garlic
2. Dice half a red onion (or if it’s a small onion, dice the whole thing)
3. Dice the other red bell pepper
4. Heat 2-3 tsp olive oil in a pot over medium heat
5. Saute the red onion, garlic, and red pepper for a few min (until the onion starts turning a little translucent)
6. Add the crushed tomatoes
7. Add dried oregano (I’m not sure how much I put – I basically sprinkled it over the top and stirred it in – maybe 2 tsp?)
8. Once the sauce is heated through, turn the heat down on low
Cheese
Combine 1.5 cups of the ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella, 1 cup of the Parmesan (or 4 cheese mixture if you can find that at trader joes) in a bowl
Assembly
1. I used a casserole dish to assemble the lasagna in – and sprayed the bottom of the dish with cooking spray
2. Put a layer of sauce at the bottom of the dish (I did about half of the pre-made spaghetti sauce and half of the sauce I made myself – I did this for every layer except the top)
3. Put a layer of the lasagna noodles
4. Put another layer of the sauce (1/2 pre-made, 1/2 self made)
5. Put a layer of the veggies
6. Take the cheese mixture, and put little crumbles of the cheese mixture all over the veggie layer (don’t try to spread it out, the little crumbles seemed to work well)
7. Put another layer of the lasagna noodles
8. Layer of sauce (if you have enough use the self made, otherwise add in the pre-made as needed)
9. Layer of veggies
10. Cheese mixture crumbles
11. Layer of lasagna noodles
12. Layer of sauce (only self made)
13. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese all over the top
Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 min

Uncover and bake for 5 min longer until the cheese has

Noodles
1. Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions (leave them al dente) – salt the water if you like
2. Once they’re done, lay them flat on foil and set aside
Veggies
1. Quarter all 4 zucchini and thinly slice
2. Thinly slice one of the red bell peppers (I cut the slices in half so they’re not so long)
3. Mince 3 cloves of garlic
4. Heat about 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat (I might have used a little less – maybe 2-3 tsp), saute the garlic, zucchini, red pepper together
5. Add the whole bag of baby spinach at the end (when the zucchini/red pepper are almost done cooking)
6. Sprinkle oregano/dried basil to taste on top, stir, and let it cook a couple more min
7. When the spinach is cooked, turn the heat down to low
Sauce
1. Mince 2-3 cloves of garlic
2. Dice half a red onion (or if it’s a small onion, dice the whole thing)
3. Dice the other red bell pepper
4. Heat 2-3 tsp olive oil in a pot over medium heat
5. Saute the red onion, garlic, and red pepper for a few min (until the onion starts turning a little translucent)
6. Add the crushed tomatoes
7. Add dried oregano (I’m not sure how much I put – I basically sprinkled it over the top and stirred it in – maybe 2 tsp?)
8. Once the sauce is heated through, turn the heat down on low
Cheese
Combine 1.5 cups of the ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella, 1 cup of the Parmesan (or 4 cheese mixture if you can find that at trader joes) in a bowl
Assembly
1. I used a casserole dish to assemble the lasagna in – and sprayed the bottom of the dish with cooking spray
2. Put a layer of sauce at the bottom of the dish (I did about half of the pre-made spaghetti sauce and half of the sauce I made myself – I did this for every layer except the top)
3. Put a layer of the lasagna noodles
4. Put another layer of the sauce (1/2 pre-made, 1/2 self made)

5. Put a layer of the veggies
6. Take the cheese mixture, and put little crumbles of the cheese mixture all over the veggie layer (don’t try to spread it out, the little crumbles seemed to work well)
7. Put another layer of the lasagna noodles
8. Layer of sauce (if you have enough use the self made, otherwise add in the pre-made as needed)
9. Layer of veggies

10. Cheese mixture crumbles
11. Layer of lasagna noodles
12. Layer of sauce (only self made)

13. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese all over the top

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 min
Uncover and bake for 5 min longer until the cheese has melted

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75 responses to “Hearty, Healthy Vegetarian Lasagna”

  1. “How would I be able to make a healthy version of lasagna without cutting the flavor”? In my opinion, the most flavorful lasagna recipes include meat. And they can be just as healthy as a meatless version… But it is an adventure to incorporate rich flavors in a meatless lasagna!

    • Haha I agree that lasagnas with meat can be as healthy as a meatless version (e.g. using lean, organic meats in proper portions in the dish). My husband and I are vegetarian though – which is why this recipe didn’t have meat in it 🙂

  2. Oh yum! I’ve never tried to make lasagna because for some reason I think it’s insanely complex but this looks amazing!

    It looks so good that I think I can even convince my meat-loving husband to love it too (I’m always trying to sneak veggies into his diet :P)

    Will try it 🙂

    • Thanks so much! And yes, I was always scared to make lasagna in the past because I also thought it was way too complex. But it’s actually super easy to make, it’s just time intensive. So as long as you plan ahead and follow the steps in order, you’ll be just fine! Oh and it’s a great vehicle to sneak veggies in – especially red peppers, tomatoes, red onions, etc. – because they blend in visually with the color of the sauce! I know you’ll love this recipe once you try it 🙂

      • Have friends coming over for dinner tomorrow and 3 of them are vegos so planning to make this alongside a Spanish paella for the meat eaters. Will let you know how it goes! 🙂

      • Made it last night! Actually had a chicken, mushroom and tomato risotto for the others, but everyone had the lasagne too – all gone!

        It was delicious – I changed it slightly by reducing the amount of zucchinis and adding mushrooms instead. Also a little bit of, ahem, chilli to give it a kick 😛

        Will definitely be making this again!

        • Woohoo! So glad to hear it! Great idea btw to add mushrooms and chili – I’ll have to make it with those additions next time!

  3. Hi! Your food looks incredible. I have to say I am somewhat of a picky eater myself and I have recently started my own blog to document my healthy living. I look forward to reading more of your delicious recipes in 2012!

    • Thank you so much! Love how we are both picky eaters 🙂 Let me know if you end up trying any of my recipes and how they turn out for you!

    • Thank you! 🙂 I’ve always felt like it really is easy to be “picky” about what you eat – there are so many healthy options out there, it just takes a tiny bit of effort and you can totally transform your diet without losing any of the delicious flavors that make eating fun!

    • Thanks! So glad you like it. Adding a ton of veggies into the recipe was one of my goals in “making it over.” 🙂

    • You can buy whole wheat lasagna noodles at just about any grocery store: Whole Foods has them, Safeway has them, I bet Target / Walmart probably do too (although I haven’t checked). Just be sure to read the back of the box and if the noodles have 5-7g fiber you’re good to go!

  4. This looks absolutely delicious! This will be the first thing I make once I get done with my new year juice fast. Thanks for the recipe and the pictures!

    • No problem! So glad you like it. Hope your fast goes well – this will definitely be a nice reward once you’re done with it! 🙂

  5. I had vegetarians over for dinner and I made an aubergine (eggplant) & 3 types of mushroom lasagna with vegetarian cheese (not all cheese are suitable vegetarian). I have to say they are very amazingly close to meat lasagna.

    BTW I don’t recommend ready-made pasta sause as they might add preservative, complex sugar or flavour enhancer. I believe if u make good vegetarian stock yourself and use in your homemade tomato sauce, then you would not need to use the ready-made pasta sauce.

    • Ooh and eggplant and mushroom lasagna sounds delicious! Great point about the cheese btw – for those who don’t know, some cheeses have animal rennet in them – which makes them not vegetarian (technically). If the ingredients say “vegetable rennet” – that cheese is veggie friendly! I totally agree with you about some pasta sauces having preservatives, sugars, or artificial flavors added. The sauce from Trader Joe’s is actually all-natural – no sugars, flavors, colors, etc. added. But it’s very important, if you’re going to buy a pre-made sauce, to check the ingredients to make sure they just include tomatoes, spices, olive oil (ingredients you can pronounce). Sugar should not be an ingredient in pasta sauce! Great tip also – when making sauce from scratch, vegetable stock adds great flavor. Thanks so much for your comment!

  6. I ended up making the cheese-free version tonight. It was really good, and we didn’t miss the cheese at all. I used whole-wheat lasagne and I upped the spice level a lot. In addition, I reduced the number of zucchinis and added an eggplant, as per someone’s suggestion in the comments. Thanks!

    • I don’t know the exact nutritional information, but I’d estimate that each serving (a pretty big square) is about 250-300 calories max. Hope that helps!

  7. I want to make this for my “very pregnant” daughter due to deliver in about 3-4 weeks. She has asked for “healthy” vegetable lasagna. It sounds delicious! How does this freeze?

    • Oh great! (and congratulations to you and your daughter!) This freezes really well – you can defrost it in the oven or the microwave. I’m sure she will love it! 🙂

  8. Just have to say I LOVE YOUR SITE!!!! I’ve made several of your creations via the mexican pizza and the latest being this veggie lasagna!! 🙂 Mhhhmmm!! GOOD!!! I added ground turkey since im not vegetarian but it was still delicious!!!!!! Thanks for this recipe 🙂

    • Wooohoo!! I’m so happy to hear that – and I think ground turkey is a perfect healthy addition for a meat-version of this lasagna recipe. So glad you liked it!! 🙂

  9. My Husband and I are vegetarians too and I was searching so long for a lasagna recipe that “sounds great”. This one fits my picky recipes, thanks so much for sharing your recipe. I’m going to make this today on my sunday and eat it away until monday! yay

    • Yaay! I’m so glad – I hope you enjoyed this lasagna! It makes great leftovers too – it will keep in the fridge for at least a couple days after you make it! For a reheating tip – warm it up in the oven vs. the microwave – it’ll feel like it was made fresh that day 🙂

      • Came out fine. The corners were little crispy though , may be because I used a large pan and so the corners dried out as the lasagna was baking. But, taste was awesome! My Husban has already insisted that this weekend it will be lasagna again! Thanks to your recipe

          • Awesome!! I’m so glad you and your husband liked it! For the corners – if you make sure the sauce reaches all the way to the edges of the pan – and make sure the lasagna is fully covered in sauce, you won’t get crispy corners. So try that next time and let me know if it works!

  10. Made this last week for dinner- have recently started cooking vegetarian (new to living with one) and had also never made a lasagna!
    This was easy, and delicious 🙂 I am already scoping your site out for what to have next! Thank you.

    • Hi Kristen! Thanks so much for sharing your experience with this recipe! I’m so glad you liked it 🙂 And congrats on making your first lasagna!!

      • Aw yay!! I’m so glad you liked it! Sorry again for the delay in answering your original question!!

    • Hi Lisa! No questions are dumb questions 🙂 Sorry it took me a few days to reply to you – it’s been a busy week!! But I’m glad you figured it out 🙂 Just in case anyone else has the same question – I used a 12×12 casserole dish. Thanks again for asking!

  11. This lasagna looks delicious! As do a lot of ure other recipes..I follow skinnytaste.com and stumbled across your sweet baked potato recipe on her site. So glad I did :0)

    • Thank you so much Shefali!! It’s so nice to meet you! 🙂 I can’t wait to hear how my recipes turn out for you once you try them! Thanks again!

  12. I’m heading to the store to buy the ingredients. I’ll buy the fresh thyme. However, I don’t see in your directions where/when to add the fresh thyme. Might it be under Vegetables at Number 6 (thyme instead of oregano)? Or…?
    Thanks – looking forward to both cooking and eating the meal!

    • Hi! Thank you so much for asking and great catch! Yes – add the fresh thyme when you add the other herbs — at Step 6 in the directions (add it along with the oregano and basil). I’ve updated the recipe to indicate that. Thanks again and let me know how the lasagna turns out – I’m sure you will love it!!

  13. This does look like a tasty alternative to many of the other, heavier lasagna recipes. I love lasagna so sometimes I can end up eating so much of it, that I feel weighed down afterwards. Thanks for this recipe.

    • No problem Julia!! This recipe definitely won’t make you feel weighed down 🙂 Can’t wait to hear how you like it!

  14. OMG – yes, this was a bit of work, but oh so good. I substituted fresh bella mushrooms in the sauce for the pepper, and I cooked and added some lentils for the illusion of meat (husband), and it was very good. I also used veggie mozzarella cheese. It made enough for 10 people. Toasted some sprouted grain bread, and this was a fabulous dinner.

    • That is so wonderful Suzie! Love the idea of adding lentils for a more meaty texture. And yes, this is a bit of work, but the payoff is totally worth it! So happy you had such a nice dinner with this dish! 🙂

    • Cottage cheese should work well in lasagna – I don’t think it’ll change the flavor of the dish too much – just make sure to get a cottage cheese that isn’t too watery so that the dish stays together! Hope that helps!

  15. This was so wonderful! My husband and I made this for dinner tonight, served it with a red wine and some slices of Italian bread. The three alterations to the recipe I made were to eliminate the ricotta cheese (it just doesn’t agree with me), and add in one can of cannellini beans to the veggie mix for protein, and since zucchini are kind of expensive right now I only used two instead of four. It was so good! Thank you for this wonderful meal idea!

    • Yay!! So glad you liked this recipe Sarah!! And I absolutely LOVE your addition of the cannellini beans – that’s a great idea! I bet, if you pureed the cannellini beans you could spread them like ricotta in the lasagna and it would give the same texture. Just an idea to try for next time! Thanks for letting me know how this turned out for you! 🙂

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