Looking for a tasty meatless lasagna recipe? This healthy vegetarian lasagna recipe will feed a crowd of about 40 (or you can bake one pan now and freeze the other three for later).
Meatless Lasagna Doesn’t Always Mean Healthy
I confess, I don’t know how to make a single pan of lasagna. My first attempt at making lasagna was when I catered a student leadership retreat my second year of college. Which meant I had to make enough to feed 50 people. Fortunately, the organizers wanted meatless lasagna and I happily complied. I seem to remember filling it with lots of cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella cheese.
Enough cheese to rival a stuffed-crust cheese pizza or fill a small army tank. Don’t get me wrong. I love cheese. But most meatless lasagna recipes from my childhood involved too much of a good thing. This overabundance of cheese, along with the tedium of boiling the noodles, rinsing the noodles, and trying to handle the slippery-as-eels noodles turned me off from lasagna making for year. Decades.
Last Christmas I decided to help my daughter fill her freezer with healthy entrées, and her husband suggested that we make lasagna. I pulled up my recipe for spaghetti sauce, and she suggested using kale (a shocking suggestion from my vegetable-a-phobic daughter) and other veggies in it, too.
Before we knew it, we had five pans of lasagna in the freezer (along with a plethora of other healthy, vegetarian entrées). Our ‘bulk cooking’ session had gone so well, in fact, that I decided to replicate it once I returned home. My goal? Make enough entrées so that I wouldn’t have to cook supper for a month.
After two days of cooking, I ended up with a freezer full of food. Did I mention that my freezer is a lot bigger than hers? I didn’t have to cook supper again until August.
Bulk Cooking, Part Deux
I made a trip to Costco (a 7-hour round trip) and purchased almost everything I needed for another bulk cooking session in September. Our freezer has no extra space now, but I doubt the food will last as long this time because we have three young men living with us.
Back to my lasagna story. This time, I had to order whole-wheat lasagna noodles from Amazon—a more cost-effective choice than purchasing single boxes from the local grocery store. Of course, I bought a case of them, so I’ll have enough noodles for a year’s supply of lasagna.
So, you see, I’ve never made a single pan of lasagna, I always end up making multiple pans at a time. My new motto when working in the kitchen is simple:
“If I’m taking the time to prepare enough for one meal, I might as well spend a few extra minutes and make enough for two or three meals.”
Think about it, how many extra minutes will it take to chop one more onion and peel one more carrot? Not many. If you’re getting the kitchen dirty, you might as well get a bigger ROI (return on investment). When I invest my time in preparing food, I want to get as much food out of my preparation as possible.
That’s why I’m sharing my ginormous lasagna recipe with you. That and I really don’t know how to make a single pan of vegetable lasagna. I only know how to make three pans or more at a time. I do know that my meat-loving students love this lasagna—even if I filled it with disgustingly healthy things like kale, eggplant, and whole-wheat lasagna noodles.
Things to Have on Hand
I should warn you that you’ll need a lot of casserole dishes on hand, or you could purchase the foil pans with lids from someplace like Sam’s Club. I bought a pack of the half-steamer pan size, which holds enough lasagna to feed eight hungry teenage boys. That’s equivalent to 14 middle-aged adults, I think.
The foil pans and lids make it easy to share lasagna when someone asks you to join a meal train or you forget about the covered dish dinner at church.
You’ll also want a very large kettle for cooking up the sauce and mixing the filling (14 cups of chopped kale is a LOT of kale!).If you want a better ROI in the kitchen, practice making double or triple batches of things! #mealprep #meatlessmonday #lasagna Click To Tweet
This recipe will make four large pans of lasagna. You can omit the eggplant and add more carrots, zucchini, or onions to equal the same number of cups of vegetables.
2 cups chopped carrots
2 onions chopped
8 cloves garlic
2 zucchini chopped
2 small eggplants, chopped
2 cups mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbs Italian seasoning
1 Tbs basil
1/2 Tbs oregano
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 6 lb 10 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 6 lb 10 oz tomato sauce
1 Tbs brown sugar
2 tsp. salt
14 c chopped kale
4 lbs ricotta cheese
1 tsp salt
1 5-lb bag of mozzarella
4 boxes of Barilla Whole Grain Lasagne
Chop all of the vegetables first. When you are almost finished, pour the olive oil into a heavy-bottomed very large saucepan. While it heats, finish chopping the veggies.
I add the onions, garlic, and carrots first, because they take longest to sauté. Add the other vegetables once the onions start to look limp.
When the vegetables look soft (after about 7-10 minutes), add the seasonings and stir well. Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce, along with the salt and brown sugar, and stir. Allow to simmer on low whilst you prepare the filling.
Chop the kale (this is where a giant cutting board and a good set of knives comes in handy) and place it in a very large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, ricotta cheese, and salt and mix thoroughly.
Spray four casserole dishes or foil pans with non-stick spray. Add about a cup of sauce to each one and then line the bottom of the pan with lasagna noodles (nope, you don’t have to boil them first).
Spread a cup of filling on the noodles, add another cup of sauce, and sprinkle a cup of grated mozzarella cheese over the sauce. Add two more layer of noodles, filling, sauce, and mozzarella. Finish with a layer of noodles, sauce, and mozzarella.