9 Vegetable-Packed Lasagna Recipes
In our experience, nobody’s complaining when it’s lasagna night. For large families, everyone’s usually on board, and for smaller households, making a lasagna allows you to cook once and eat all week, each slice somehow improving in your fridge as the flavors and textures continue to marry. However, nobody needs a nutrition expert to tell them that conventional lasagna can be a caloric powerhouse and cause a blood sugar high dive if left unchecked. You know that for yourself if you’ve ever eaten a normal-sized serving.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be, and a post-lasagna coma is not necessarily a foregone conclusion. Mozzarella and ricotta are already on the lower-fat side of the cheese spectrum, and both can easily be swapped for part-skim options without sacrificing protein, calcium, flavor, or texture. Ground sirloin is a responsible meat choice, but can also be substituted with even leaner options like ground turkey or chicken, replaced with vegetarian beef, or left out altogether.
For a more wholesome dish, traditional lasagna noodles can be replaced with whole grain options, or better yet, vegetables cut into wide ribbons. Lasagna is already an excellent vehicle for including a myriad of veggies among its layers, but here are nine vegetable-forward lasagna recipes for meals that are truly comforting — in more ways than one.
Zucchini is one of the most versatile vegetables when it comes to vegetable-based lasagna, particularly because of the fact that its shape lends itself extremely well to mimicking actual lasagna noodles. (This may very well be zucchini’s highest honor.) This zucchini lasagna recipe calls for grilling the thin strips of zucchini before layering them into the lasagna for added flavor and visual appeal.
Kale or other sturdy greens can also take the place of the pasta in lasagna. Kale’s detractors often cite its chewy texture as off-putting, but that’s precisely why it works in this lasagna recipe, creating a toothsome layer composed entirely of a nutritional superfood. The pork sausage can easily be swapped for an equally flavorful turkey sausage or vegan sausage, and the inclusion of fennel seed in the sauce to echo the flavor in the sausage is a nice touch.
Lasagna’s starchiness is one of the qualities that makes it especially craveable, but conventional noodles aren’t the only way to achieve it. Thin strips of sweet potato are equally up to the task of soaking up the zesty marinara sauce. This sweet potato lasagna recipe also has a couple of other unique elements to it: Tangy feta cheese, to mingle with the ricotta, and earthy sage, one of sweet potato’s flavor soulmates.
Not only is substituting mushrooms for pasta a fine way to prevent a post-lasagna food coma, but it also excuses you from the elbow grease needed to scrub the corners of your deep dish pan. In this lasagna stuffed mushrooms recipe, huge portobello mushrooms become the pan, encasing a layer of an herbed, spinach ricotta filling, before being topped with a modest amount of sauce and cheese for a turn under the broiler.
Here, whole wheat lasagna noodles are given permission to participate — because otherwise, the recipe otherwise is as green as it gets. This Green Goddess Lasagna recipe not only includes green peppers, spinach, and asparagus, but even the sauce is green, incorporating green chili enchilada sauce in place of the traditional tomato. (That doesn’t make it healthier, but it does make it visually stunning). The recipe calls for a homemade bechamel sauce, which is a little on the heavier side, but can also be swapped for a part-skim ricotta layer.
Eggplant, like zucchini, has an ideal shape for creating vegetable sheets for layering in lasagna, plus it nods to another comforting Italian dish: eggplant parmesan. The recipe author recommends roasting the eggplant slices on high heat in order to reduce moisture and encourage caramelized flavor, which we fully endorse. In the end, you have a vegetarian eggplant lasagna made with silky eggplant layers that can absorb the sauce like a sponge.
Stuffed peppers are a delicious, healthy choice already, but when the stuffing is given the lasagna treatment, they really become something to celebrate. Like the mushroom caps above, this lasagna stuffed peppers recipe omits the pan in favor of letting the vegetables be the vessel — although you could totally do roasted strips of pepper in layers, if that’s important to you. With the peppers taking the caloric impact down a notch, the lean ground beef here is a responsible (and delicious) inclusion.
Butternut squash slices can easily fill in for noodles as in the sweet potato lasagna recipe above, but in this butternut squash lasagna recipe, they contribute to a vegan lasagna that is every bit as comforting as its original model. Brown rice noodles, along with mushrooms and kale, create the layers, while butternut squash adds richness and flavor to an easy, cashew-based sauce.
Spaghetti squash is so named because of its long strands, but it also happens to be an excellent noodle substitute for spaghetti. And what’s lasagna, really, but spaghetti in casserole form? Depending on the spaghetti squash you find, these spaghetti squash lasagna boats are nearly as large-format as classic lasagna, but will leave you energized, rather than lethargic.
Read next: The Health Benefits of White Vegetables
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