Why I Love This Vegetable Cottage Cheese Lasagna
This is one of my favourite vegetarian recipes to make for the family or when we have guests coming over. I think it’s the best vegetable lasagna and I will tell you why.
- Lots of veggies: We’re talking roasted butternut squash, grilled zucchini and mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes (in the sauce).
- High in protein: Many vegetarian pasta dishes lack protein which means that you have to eat a lot more of it to feel truly satiating. I wanted to create a vegetarian lasagna that was not just full of veggies but was also filling. By using protein-rich cottage cheese in addition to ricotta, grated cheese and pasta sheets, I was able to get pretty decent macros in this dish – about 30 grams per serving if the lasagna is cut in 8 slices.
- Flavour: There is so much deliciousness in this dish and it comes from doing that extra step of pre-grilling and pre-roasting the vegetables, which enhances their flavour. Plus plenty of garlic, cheeses, and basil tomato sauce – all create a beautiful combination.
- Make-ahead friendly: You can prepare most of the elements ahead of time and store them in the fridge overnight or even 2 days. You can even assemble the whole lasagna dish and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.
- If you want healthy and delicious comfort food, this vegetarian lasagna recipe is IT!
Here is what you will need for this delicious vegetable lasagna recipe:
- Vegetables: butternut squash (or another type of winter squash/pumpkin), mushrooms, baby spinach (you could also use defrosted spinach), zucchini, garlic.
- Pasta: You can use fresh lasagna sheets or dry pasta sheets. When using dry pasta sheets, I personally like to par-boil them for 1-2 minutes each as it makes them easy to layer in the dish.
- Cheeses: cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, grated Mozzarella and Cheddar. There is no bechamel sauce in this lasagna and the white sauce is replaced with a cottage cheese and spinach mixture.
- Tomato pasta sauce: You can make your own tomato pasta sauce but I buy good quality pre-made tomato sauce (aka marinara) and for this recipe, I love basil tomato sauce by Mutti brand (no affiliation). You can use whatever you prefer here. Using a store-bought sauce saves time, which I am all about these days.
- You will need a large, deep rectangular baking dish, a baking tray and a few frying pans. There is a little bit of prep involved so allocate an hour or so.
How To Make Vegetable Cottage Cheese Lasagna
Find the full list of ingredients, nutritional info, and instructions in the recipe card below. Here are some step-by-step pictures to guide you along.
Pre-Cook Butternut Squash
- Cut butternut squash into half-moon disks. Season and rub with a little oil. Roast at 200 C /400 F for 20 minutes, until just tender. You can also use an Air Fryer for 10-15 minutes. While the butternut squash is cooking, prepare other fillings.
Saute Onions & Spinach
- In another large frying pan, saute onions with a little oil and salt, for 4-5 minutes, until golden and soft. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Add baby spinach leaves and a splash of water to the same pan. Cover with a lid and cook for 2 minutes or two until wilted. Stir a few times. Once done, transfer the spinach to a cutting board and chop it finely with a knife. Transfer the chopped spinach to the bowl with the onions.
Make Cottage Cheese Mixture
- To the bowl with the onions and spinach, add the cottage cheese, smooth ricotta, minced garlic, black pepper and another pinch of salt. Mix through and set aside.
Cook Mushrooms & Zucchini
- Slice zucchini lengthwise or into elongated pieces. Sprinkle all pieces with a little salt and set aside.
- In one frying pan, saute the mushrooms with a little oil and salt for 7-8 minutes, stirring a few times, until browned. Transfer to a bowl.
- Using one or two frying pans, pan-fry or grill the zucchini over medium-high heat for 2 minutes or so on each side, until golden brown and slightly charred. Remove and set aside.
Precook lasagna sheets (if using dry pasta)
- Pre-cooking dry lasagna sheets makes it easier to layer them in the baking dishes and results in a more saucy lasagna as the sheets don’t absorb as much liquid. Plus, this speeds up the baking time. Pre-cooking is optional, you can also use fresh lasagna sheets sold in the refrigerated section, in which case the baking time will be a little bit shorter.
- Boil enough water to fill half of a large pot. Place on a stove and bring back to boil. Add lasagna sheets, 1-2 at a time and cook for 2 minutes. Remove onto a plate or tray and continue until you have two layers worth of pasta sheets. You can then start layering the lasagna while continuing to cook the remaining pasta sheets.
How To Layer Vegetable Lasagna
- Make sure to preheat the oven back to 180 C / 355 F ahead of time.
- Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato pasta sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Layer 2-3 lasagna sheets (my dish fits 2.5). You can use scissors or a knife to cut one of the sheets in halves. It’s a bit of a Tetris game, really.
- Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce and cottage cheese filling on top of the pasta layer, about 1.5 cups and sprinkle all of the pre-cooked mushrooms on top.
- Place another layer of lasagna sheets and spread another ½ to 1 cup of pasta sauce. Place butternut squash pieces on top. They would have shrunk so you can tear them into pieces to cover the sheets evenly. It’s okay to have a few gaps.
- Place more lasagna sheets and more sauce. Spread another cup or two of the cottage cheese and layer the pre-cooked zucchini slices.
- Add the final layer of pasta sheets, spread another cup or two of sauce, and make sure to spread all the way to the corners. Spread the remaining cottage cheese mixture on top. Sprinkle Mozzarella and Cheddar cheese over the top evenly.
- Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Once done, remove the lasagna and let it sit for 5-10 minutes so it settles and finishes cooking. It will also cool down slightly as it’s incredibly hot straight out of the oven.
- Slice into 6-8 slices and serve. Enjoy my vegetable cottage cheese lasagna!
Veggie Lasagna Variations
- You can use different types of pumpkin/winter squash here. Sliced sweet potato can also work.
- Gluten-free lasagna sheets can be used for this dish.
- You can add a layer of canned, strained lentils for extra protein and fibre.
- Grilled eggplant is another lovely addition to a vegetarian lasagna.
- Another way to increase protein even higher is to mix in grated firm tofu into the cottage cheese mix or add a layer of grated cottage cheese in between lasagna sheets.
What To Serve With Vegetable Lasagna
- This dish is a well-balanced meal in itself so you don’t really need to add any sides but if you want to freshen it up, I recommend a simple side salad with zesty vinaigrette or shredded slaw with olive oil based dressing (no mayo or cream as the lasagna is already quite rich).
- Another option is a simple side of steamed or stir-fried green beans and/or lemon garlic broccoli for extra greens on the table.
- If you’re serving a crowd or a table of starving teenagers, a side of garlic bread might go well with this lasagna.
Storing vegetarian lasagna properly is essential to maintain its freshness and flavour. Here are some tips:
- Allow the lasagna to cool to room temperature before storing it. This prevents condensation and keeps it from becoming soggy.
- Slice into individual servings or portions. This makes it easier to reheat only what you need, reducing waste.
- Place the lasagna portions in an airtight container or wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and aluminium foil. Make sure there’s minimal air exposure to prevent freezer burn or drying out in the fridge.
- Refrigeration: If you plan to consume it within 3-4 days, store the lasagna in the refrigerator. It’s best to consume it within this timeframe for the best taste and texture.
- Freezing: If you want to store it for a longer period, freeze it. Place the wrapped or containerized lasagna in the freezer. Properly stored, it can last 2-3 months.
- Thawing: When ready to eat frozen lasagna, transfer it to the refrigerator to thaw overnight. Avoid thawing at room temperature to prevent bacterial growth.
- Reheating: Reheat in the oven for best results. Preheat to around 350°F (175°C), cover the lasagna with foil to prevent excessive drying, and bake until heated through (usually 20-30 minutes). Alternatively, microwave individual portions for a quicker meal.
- Freshen Up: Sprinkle a little water or sauce on top before reheating to prevent excessive dryness.