I love cuisines that have a robust selection of innately vegetarian cuisine. Italian is one of them. There is an unbelievable amount of amazing choices in Italian cuisine for vegetarians- pastas, pizzas, salads, soups, etc.
However, one dish hard to get vegetarian in restaurants is lasagna.
I made this lasagna in a loaf pan, having recently realized that a lasagna sheet fits perfectly in it. A loaf pan is enough to serve a small family. If you want to serve a large crowd definitely increase the recipe and use a larger pan (maybe 9×12).
The mixed greens I used are a combination of baby kale, chard and spinach. A very healthy and tasty combination.
This recipe has a bechamel sauce that goes well with the mixed greens.
8 lasagna sheets
About 5 oz of mixed greens (baby kale, chard, spinach)
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used a roasted garlic oil)
2-3 garlic cloves (if you are using regular olive oil)
8 oz of ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk (warm)
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
There are 4 parts to this recipe- 1- cooking the lasagna, 2- making the vegetable filling, 3- making the bechamel sauce and 4- assembling the lasagna to bake. Step 1 and 2 can be done at the same time. It’s best to make the bechamel sauce last as it tends to thicken if unused for a while.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
First, heat a large pot with water (add 1 tsp salt and a teaspoon of olive oil as well). When the water boils add about 8 lasagna sheets. As the lasagna noodles are cooking (see package directions if using dried lasagna, usually about 8-10 minutes). Once cooked, drain and set aside.
While the noodles are cooking, prepare the mixed green filling. Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet. Add about 2-3 diced garlic cloves. I used a roasted garlic olive oil, so did not have to add the garlic separately. When the garlic sizzles add the mixed greens (about 5 oz mix of baby kale, chard and spinach). Add a dash of salt (1/4 tsp). Cook very briefly just a few minutes. Set aside.
Prepare the bechamel sauce. This sauce can be used in a number of other recipes as well. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy saucepan. When the butter melts, add 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Use a whisk to mix completely. Add one cup of warm milk (heated one minute in the microwave) slowly, while continuously mixing. Add a mixture of 1/2 teaspoon each of dried thyme, rosemary, black pepper and salt. Mix well.
To assemble the lasagna, spread a few spoons of the bechamel on the bottom of your lasagna pan. Place one lasagna noodle on top. Spread some bechamel. Add a few spoons of spinach. Add about 2 small spoons of the ricotta cheese. Next cover with a lasagna noodle. Keep repeating the process until all the noodles are done. You may not use all the cheese- that is ok. On the top layer, add bechamel, a few green olives if you would like to add some tanginess and some grated parmesan cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil for the last five minutes of baking if you would like the top layer to be a little crispy.
Cooking with kids note-
Kids usually eat better when they are involved in preparing the dish. The best point for children to participate in this recipe is in the assembly step. Depending on the age of your child, you prepare the noodles, filling and sauce. Then let them do the rest. They will have fun and definitely want to taste their work when cooked.