Best ever vegetarian lasagne recipe

You won’t believe just how tasty this vegetable lasagne is. Packed with layers of flavour, it’s perfect for anyone looking to eat less meat.

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This vegetarian lasagne recipe is designed for anyone who thinks meat-free cooking can’t be as exciting or delicious as carnivorous meals.

It’s also for anyone who’s ever been served up a limp and flavourless, sorry excuse for a veggie lasagne and not quite got over it. School dinners have a lot to answer for.

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If you’re one of the above and you’ve never quite been convinced of the beauty of a vegetable lasagne, things are about to change.

We promise this version packs a serious flavour punch. We’ve tried this on even the fussiest of eaters and always received rave reviews.

It may not be the quickest meal to make, but there’s not much skill involved. You just need to be able to chop!

And don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients. Every one is easy to find in any good supermarket and they all go into one big pot so you’re not destined to be washing up for hours!

This vegetable lasagna recipe makes six portions, which is perfect for a big family, but if you’re cooking for fewer people you’ll be happy to know that it tastes just as good heated up the next day, or even the day after that.

What makes this lasagne so delicious?

The secret to our best ever vegetarian lasagna recipe is that it’s not trying to be anything it’s not.

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Meat replacements have their place, but that place is not here. Rather than trying to replicate the flavours of a rich beef ragu, we’ve made vegetables the focus of our sauce and let their flavours really sing.

Everything gets chopped quite finely, meaning every mouthful should have a little taste of every ingredient – from tangy chopped tomatoes to mild courgettes, sweet sundried tomatoes to the salty hit of the olives.

We’ve left out the white sauce, as we think our tomato sauce tastes best without it. But if you really miss the creamy element, a few dollops of ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese) atop each layer of pasta might be just what you’re looking for.

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How healthy is this recipe?

Very healthy.

This is a great recipe for anyone who is looking to improve their diet but doesn’t know where to start. It’s packed with vegetables and low in calories yet really filling and feels indulgent.

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If you follow the recipe, each portion should contain between four and five portions of vegetables, all of them offering different nutrients to boost your health, from Vitamin C in tomatoes to iron in spinach.

You’ll also be getting a healthy dose of fibre, boosted by the lentils. You could bulk this up by using added fibre lasagne sheets or opting for wholemeal.

We’ve stuck to healthy unsaturated fats (from olive oil) and used a low sodium stock cube to keep the salt content down; fat and salt are two of the main offenders in a classic lasagne.

Trust us, you won’t be tempted to add more salt; this is a truly tasty lasagne.

As mentioned, this is a low-calorie meal, which should fit in with most healthy eating plans. But you should always speak to a professional before starting any new diet – especially if you’re cutting down calories in any significant way.

Your GP will be able to set you on the right track, or you could book in for a dietary consultation if you want more extensive and tailored advice.

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How to make our best ever vegetarian lasagne recipe

The fist thing is to get all your chopping out of the way. You want all your veg to be roughly the same size, and the smaller the better, so that your sauce isn’t too lumpy. Of course, if you prefer chunky vegetables, follow your heart!

Next, fry the courgettes, mushrooms and bell peppers in the olive oil for 5-10 minutes, until they soften and release their moisture.

To this mix, add the chilli flakes and garlic and crumble in the stock cube. Add lots of freshly ground black pepper and stir until the stock cube has melted. If you don’t have a little water in the pan already from the vegetables, add a splash in yourself.

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Now it’s time to add the passata, crushed tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, olives and spinach, plus about half a tin or carton of water. Stir this well, bring it to the boil then turn your heat down so it simmers.

When the sauce is simmering and the spinach has wilted, rinse and add your red lentils. Stir well, adding extra water – if needed – so that the lentils are just covered by liquid.

Simmer everything until your lentils have cooked, keeping an eye on the pan in case anything catches on the bottom.

And voila! You have yourself a delicious, meat-free ragu (of sorts) and it’s time to build your lasagne.

We go: sauce, pasta, sauce, pasta, sauce, cheese. That way the lasagne sheets are hemmed in by sauce, which they need to absorb a little of in the oven so they soften and cook. Trust us, dry lasagne is not the one.

In terms of cheese, we like cheddar for its stronger flavour, but mozzarella can't be beat when it comes to gooey, melty goodness. Really you can use whatever you have to hand, so long as it melts well. Parmesan and red leicester both work well.

At this point, you can put your lasagne aside for later, though make sure it cools completely if you’re going to keep it in the fridge or freezer.

If, like us, you couldn’t possibly wait even one moment to get your dish in the oven, go for it! Bake it in a preheated oven for 25 minutes at 200°c or 180°C fan.

After 25 minutes, carefully take out your lasagne and test it with a knife to check the pasta sheets are cooked. If you think it needs another 10 minutes, cover it with foil first so that the top doesn’t burn.

Once ready, dig in! We don’t think it needs an accompaniment, but it does pair fantastically with seasonal greens.

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A note on cooking times

This lasagne is best cooked in a preheated oven at 200°c or 180°C fan.

If you’re cooking your vegetarian lasagne just after assembling, 25 minutes should be enough to ensure the pasta is cooked through and the cheese is nicely melted and just starting to brown.

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You could very well assemble ahead of time, however, in which case add another 20 minutes to the cooking time and cover the dish with tin foil for the first half hour in the oven (so the top doesn’t burn). So 45 minutes overall.

This recipe does freeze rather well, providing you use a freezer-safe dish and freeze your lasagne before it’s baked in the oven.

Defrost it in the fridge overnight and get the lasagne out at least 20 minutes before you want to start cooking so that it returns to room temperature. Then follow the cooking instructions as if you’d assembled ahead of time.

Best ever vegetarian lasagne recipe

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

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1 tbsp olive oil

3 courgettes, finely diced

3 bell peppers, finely chopped

250g mushrooms, finely chopped

1 tsp chilli flakes

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 vegetable stock cube (low sodium if possible)

Freshly ground black pepper

400g passata

400g chopped tomatoes

6 sundried tomatoes, quartered

50g pitted green olives, halved

100g fresh spinach, finely chopped

200g red split lentils, rinsed

30g fresh basil, roughly torn

12 lasagne sheets (wholemeal or added fibre varieties if possible)

200g grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese

METHOD

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1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Fry the courgettes, bell peppers and mushrooms in the oil until soft.

2. Add the chilli flakes, garlic, crumbled stock cube and a generous amount of black pepper. Fry for 2 minutes, adding a splash of water if necessary to keep from catching.

3. Pour in the passata, then swill the jar or carton with water (about half-full) and add that too. Stir, then add the chopped tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, olives and spinach. Stir well, bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer.

4. When the sauce is simmering and the spinach has wilted, add the rinsed red lentils, along with the basil. Stir well.

The lentils need quite a bit of water to cook, so make sure the sauce is loose enough to cover them. After about 20 minutes of simmering, the lentils should be soft and your sauce is ready.

5. Now to assemble! Make sure you have your sauce, lasagne sheets and cheese to hand.

In a baking dish roughly 25cm x 35cm in size, start by covering the bottom of the dish with around one third of your sauce. Cover this with lasagne sheets (we usually use six) then repeat both steps.

Cover the layer of pasta with the remaining third of the sauce, then sprinkle over your grated cheese to finish.

6. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°c or 180°C fan for 25 minutes, or until the pasta sheets are cooked through and the cheese is golden and bubbling.

More healthy recipes you might like

If you enjoyed our tortilla pizza recipe, we think you might like these too:

  • If it’s healthy comfort food you’re after, this mac and cheese could be just the thing
  • If Italian food is your thing, try our Pasta alla Norma
  • If you’re looking for meat-free meals, this stir fry is totally vegan
  • And if you want more family-friendly recipes, you'll love our lighter spaghetti bolognese

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