I love throwing dinner parties, but menu planning can be so difficult! So many of our friends (myself included) have very specific dietary considerations. In addition, this is my first Fall season, cooking as a vegetarian. I am trying my hardest, not to get caught up in finding solace in heavy, high carbohydrate, gluten free meals. When my friend Natalie asked me to cook a main dish for her Halloween inspired dinner, I took on the challenge, with gratitude! A great opportunity to perfect a lasagna! A lasagna for ALL!
First of all, the most important consideration for me was the noodles. I decided to use a combination of zucchini “noodles” (simply made by peeling the zucchini into ribbons with the help of a vegetable peeler) and these awesome fresh, grain free, gluten free, lasagna noodles made by Cappello’s.
Yes, they are expensive, but worth the splurge and since they are fresh, there is no precooking needed! (Also, you most likely will have leftovers, that you can freeze for later!) In the past, I had made lasagna without the noodles and I was unimpressed with the soggy results. The noodles soak up the liquid of the veggies, help to maintain the structure and add great texture:)
My next consideration was to make a vegetable rich, meat free sauce. To give the bite and texture of meat, I decided to use a mixture of chopped walnuts and mushrooms, sautéed with onion, garlic, basil and Italian seasoning.
Then, I looked around my kitchen and decided to use the Fall vegetables that I had on hand. Delicata squash, onion, garlic and basil, would be perfect!
I chopped everything up and sautéed it up, along with the “meat” mixture. I added a tablespoon of salt and more Italian seasoning. Once the pan started to get dry, I added about a cup of vegetable broth and continued to stir, until everything looked cooked through.
For the cheese filling, I decided to make two versions. One dairy free and one with plenty of ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
Depending on your dietary needs, you can go either way! There are plenty of great dairy free options available.
I was very pleased with the dairy free ricotta from kite hill.
Ok! Lets make lasagna! To start, I poured a small amount of my favorite tomato sauce on the bottom of a large casserole dish. Just enough to spread a thin, even layer. Then I arranged a single layer of the lasagna noodle sheets.
I added a layer of the veggies, topped that with dollops of ricotta and mozzarella, and a hefty amount of parmesan cheese. Then I added an even layer of tomato sauce. Then a layer of zucchini noodles, topped with more of the vegetable mixture, more cheese, more tomato sauce, etc.
It really doesn’t matter what order you do your layers. I didn’t even measure the cheese. I just made each layer consistent and I finished off the layers with a single layer of the lasagna noodles on top, with more tomato sauce and cheese. So, I only used the actual noodles for the top and bottom layers of the lasagna and zucchini noodles in the middle!
Place it in the oven (preheated) at 375 degrees, for 30 minutes, or until browned, hot and bubbly. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes before serving!
***Something to note! If you decide to go with the dairy free cheeses for this recipe, it will NOT resemble traditional lasagna. It will, however, taste yummy and satisfy your cheese and comfort food craving!***
- 1 package of Cappello's Gluten Free and Grain Free Lasagna Sheets
- 3 zucchini, peeled into ribbons
- 1-2 delicata squash, skin left on, chopped
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 cups walnuts, chopped
- 2 pints of fresh mushrooms, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 3 tbs Italian seasoning
- 15 oz Ricotta cheese or cheese alternative
- 2 cups of shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 ball of fresh mozzarella roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 jar of your favorite tomato sauce
- 1-2 cups vegetable broth
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Saute walnuts, mushrooms, onion, garlic and basil with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Once onions are cooked through, add delicata squash. Stir well. Once mixture looks dry, add 1- 2 cups of vegetable broth, stirring well, until squash is cooked through. Add Italian seasoning and salt as needed.
- Add enough tomato sauce to the bottom of a large casserole dish. Top with a single layer of lasagna noodles. Spoon an even layer of the squash mixture on top the noodles, add a layer of ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Pour an even layer of tomato sauce on top. Add a layer of zucchini, then the squash mixture, then more cheese and tomato sauce. Repeat. For the top layer, use another layer of lasagna noodles, top with sauce and cheese.
- Cook for 30 min in a preheated 375 degree oven.
- The dairy free version is very tasty, but does not taste like traditional lasagna! I still recommend it!