Oh, the poor underrated vegetable. Too often seen as an accompaniment to meat and fish, the vegetable is maligned by children (and some adults) who refuse to eat them, or even to take one bite. And to add insult to injury the secondary definition of vegetables is “a person having a dull or merely physical existence”.
This is so unfair! Think about the smell of onions caramelizing in butter, imagine pizza without tomatoes, steak and potatoes without potatoes, chili without beans! My family will tell you that, while I am not a vegetarian, I do love all types of vegetables. And I love the way vegetables can temper a rich dish, so you don’t feel stuffed and bloated after eating. Which is why I love this recipe for lasagna.
In this Super Cheesy Lasagna with Vegetables the mushrooms bring the umami, the spinach brings the salty tang and the zucchini shows up with some crunch and texture. And because their flavors don’t hit you over the head the way red meat does it doesn’t need a punch of tomato sauce but can head straight for the cheese counter and bring in melty and gooey for the finish!
And this is how you do it:
First cook the lasagna sheets as instructed on the package. After they are cooked place them on an oiled cookie sheet to keep them from sticking together.
On to the vegetables!
Sauté the onions and garlic in a little olive oil. When they are soft and your kitchen smells delicious, add the mushrooms and cook until they have rendered up their juices. Use a slotted spoon to move the onion and mushroom mixture to a bowl and pour out any remaining moisture from the mushrooms.
Add a little more oil to the pan and sauté the zucchini in batches until they are lightly browned. Add them to the other veg in the bowl.
Rinse the spinach, shake off the moisture and toss it in the hot pan. Stir it quickly until it is reduced and put it in with all the other vegetables. Add thyme, salt and pepper toss it together, taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.
In another bowl, stir together the ricotta and the herbed cheese.
Time to assemble the lasagna.
Grease your lasagna pan and layer three or four sheets of pasta on the bottom. Spread about 1/4 of the vegetable mixture on top then spread 1/4 of the cheese mixture over that, sprinkle it with mozzarella and add another layer of pasta. This time the noodles should go the other direction to help the dish hold its shape when you cut it. (So if the lasagna noodles were horizontally in the pan on the first layer then the second layer should be vertical and the third layer horizontal and so on).
Repeat this until you have three layers of vegetable and cheese then finish with a final layer of pasta and cheese.
You can cook this right away or cover it and keep it in the refrigerator for that night or the next day.
When it is time to cook it, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and cook, covered with foil for 30 minutes. Uncover it and cook for 10 more minutes until it is brown and bubbly. Let it sit for ten minutes to set before you cut into it.
SUPER CHEESY LASAGNA WITH VEGETABLES
- 5 oz soft herbed goat cheese
- 15 oz whole milk ricotta
- 2-3 tsps fresh thyme leaves
- 2 medium zucchinis sliced
- 1 lb mushrooms sliced
- 10 oz fresh spinach
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 9-12 sheets of lasagna pasta
- 12 oz mozzarella shredded
Prepare the pasta
- Cook lasagna according to package directions. Drain and place on an oiled baking sheet until ready to assemble the pasta.
Prepare the vegetables
- Sauté the onion and garlic in 1 tbsp oil until soft.
- Add the mushrooms and thyme leaves. Sauté the mushrooms until they are cooked and have released their moisture. Salt and pepper to taste. Drain the mixture and place in a medium bowl.
- Using the same pan, add a little oil to the pan if needed and sauté the zucchini until browned. Salt and pepper to taste. Add to the reserved vegetables.
- Rinse the spinach and shake dry. Sauté the spinach in the same pan until wilted. Salt and pepper to taste and add the spinach to the rest of the vegetable. Mix all of the cooked vegetables together well and season if needed.
Make the cheese sauce
- In a bowl stir together the herbed cheese and the ricotta until smooth
Assemble the pasta
- Grease or oil a 9 x 12 baking dish. Place three strips of lasagna on the bottom of the pan. Spread about ¼ of the vegetables over the pasta then spread with a layer of cheese sauce. Sprinkle with ¼ cup mozzarella.
- Repeat three times alternating the direction of the pasta for each layer.
- Finish with a layer of pasta, topped with cheese sauce and sprinkle with the remainder of the mozzarella.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cover the lasagna with a piece of lightly oiled foil. Cook in the center of the oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook for a further 10 minutes until browned and bubbling. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes to allow the lasagna to set before cutting.
Lasagna can be refrigerated overnight before cooking. You may need to add 5-10 minutes to the cooking time if this is the case.