Lasagna is a wonderful meal because you get dairy, whole grains, vegetables, and proteins in every bite. It’s also nice because it’s a filling entree and the leftovers are sometimes better than the original meal. It was a staple in our house growing up, and it’s something I like to make when we have dinner guests.
That being said, it takes a bit of time to assemble it all. It’s not difficult to make, but getting it all together can be time consuming. Whenever I tell my mom I’m making lasagna, she always reminds me “don’t begin when you’re tired.” This is sage advice. To keep it from being a huge burden, I like to make two at a time and freeze one for up to a month. (Put the second one in the freezer before the baking stage, then move it to the refrigerator two days before you plan to bake it.) Adding a second one to the mix doesn’t add much to the time line, but something to keep in mind is that it will occupy one of your casserole dishes while it’s hanging out in the freezer.
This specific recipe is also vegetarian. If you want to make it vegan friendly, you will need to substitute soy-based products for all the dairy ingredients throughout the recipe.
- 1 package dried lasagna noodles (I use a whole wheat lasagna noodle, but semolina ones are good choices, too)
- 1 Tbl unsalted butter
- 8 oz baby portabello mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 of a large, sweet onion, diced
- 24 oz canned tomato sauce (no salt, no spices)
- 1 can (14.5 oz) crushed tomatoes
- 2 tsp dried sweet basil
- 1 tsp ground Mediterranean oregano
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 Tbl dried parsley
- 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
- 1 cup small curd cottage cheese or ricotta cheese (ricotta makes the cheese mixture very thick, so only use with cheese lovers)
- 1 Tbl raw green pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 small zucchini
- 1 small yellow squash
- 3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
Cook lasagna noodles per their directions until just tender. Lay them flat on a piece of wax paper after cooking, not overlapping, to keep them from sticking together.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onions to the pan and saute until the onions are translucent and tender. Add tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic powder, and parsley and stir well. Cover and cook on low for 12-15 minutes, stirring periodically to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.
While the sauce is heating through, mix the cream cheese, cottage cheese (or ricotta), diced raw green pepper, and sour cream until well blended.
Using a sharp knife, cut the ends off the zucchini and squash and cut both in half. Then, lengthwise, slice up the vegetables into 1/8 inch or thinner strips.
Spray the bottom of a 3 quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Cover the bottom of the dish with a little of the sauce, which also helps to keep the bottom layer of noodles from sticking to the pan. Lay one layer of noodles on top of the sauce. Cover the noodles with 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture in a thin layer — drop it by spoonfuls on top of the noodles and then gently spread it with the back of the spoon.
Alternating between pieces of zucchini and squash, place half the vegetables in a layer on top of the cheese layer:
Spread out about 1/3 of the tomato sauce over the zucchini and squash.
Then, place another layer of noodles, cheese mix, zucchini and squash, and sauce.
Next, put on the remaining cheese mix, the 3 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese, and the remaining sauce to finish.
Bake at 350ºF for 25 to 30 minutes. You don’t want the noodles or cheese to burn, so keep a close eye on the lasagna after the 25 minute mark. Let the lasagna set for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting.