Vegetarian Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

Vegetarian lasagna with spinach, shiitake and cremini mushrooms, ricotta, Mozzarella, and pecorino cheeses.

The first thing I do to start making this recipe is to get a big pot of salted water heating for the pasta, and defrost the spinach. While this is happening you can prep the mushrooms and cheeses. Use high quality tomato sauce for best results. If fresh basil is not available for layering in the casserole, add 2 teaspoons of dried basil to the sauce.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8-10.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • Salt
  • 1 generous cup of chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup olive oil plus more for keeping the noodles from sticking to each other
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (I recommend Muir Glen brand with added basil)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 10-ounce boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed in clean towel of excess moisture
  • 1 lb lasagna noodles (16 to 20 noodles)
  • 1 15-or-16-ounce container of ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 pound pecorino or parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
  • 1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese (about 4 cups)
  • Special equipment needed: 1 large casserole pan, preferably 10x15-inches

Method

Mushrooms for vegetarian lasagnaDry sautéing mushrooms in their own liquid for vegetarian lasagna

1 Place mushrooms in a large (6 to 8 quart), sauté pan on high or medium high heat. Stir them with a wooden spoon or shake the pan from time to time. You may hear them squeak. Sprinkle salt over the mushrooms. The mushrooms will sizzle and then start to release water. (Note that you are not adding fat at this point to the pan; this method of cooking mushrooms in their own moisture is called "dry sautéing.) Once the mushrooms start to release water into the pan, stir in the chopped onions. Cook until the mushrooms are no longer releasing moisture and the mushroom water has boiled away, about 5 minutes more.

Stir in onions.Add tomato paste, sauce, crushed tomatoes, and herbs.

2 Add the olive oil to the mushrooms and stir to coat. Sauté the mushrooms and onions for about a minute.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the tomato paste, cook for a minute longer. Reserve 1 cup of the tomato sauce (it will go in the bottom of the casserole dish), and put the remaining cup of tomato sauce into the pot with the mushrooms.  Add the large can of crushed tomatoes.  Add one cup of water. Stir in the thyme, sugar, and red pepper flakes. If you are using dried basil instead of fresh, add it now.  Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and simmer on a low simmer, for 20 minutes.

Drain and rinse the noodles in cold waterSpread the lasagna noodles out on a sheet pan coated with olive oil.

3 Once sauce is simmering, salt the boiling pasta water, and add the dry lasagna noodles to the boiling water.  (The water should be at a vigorous, rolling boil.) Stir gently, making sure that the noodles are not sticking to each other. Set the timer for 8 minutes, or however long is indicated on the package of the noodles. Cook uncovered on a high boil. When the noodles are ready (al dente, cooked through but still firm to the bite), drain the noodles in a colander, and rinse them to cool them with cold water.  As you rinse them, gently separate them with your fingers so they don't stick to each other. Prepare a couple large cookie sheets or baking sheets by spreading a tablespoon of olive oil over the baking sheets. Place the lasagna noodles on the sheets, gently coating them with a bit of that olive oil, and spreading them out. This will help keep them from sticking to each other while you finish the sauce and prepare the layered casserole.

4 Turn off the heat on the stovetop for the sauce. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the one cup of reserved tomato sauce over the bottom of a large (preferably 10x15-inch) casserole dish. (If your casserole dish is smaller, you may need to add another layer as you go through this step.) Place a layer of lasagna noodles down over the tomato sauce, slightly overlapping. (For our 10x15-inch dish, we ultimately fit 3 layers of noodles, each layer with 6 noodles.  Then we had 2 extra noodles on which to nosh.) Sprinkle half of the ricotta cheese over the noodles. Sprinkle half of the defrosted, drained, and excess moisture squeezed out spinach over the ricotta.  Sprinkle half of the Mozzarella cheese over the spinach, and just a quarter of the pecorino cheese. Then spoon 1/3 of your mushroom sauce over the Mozzarella. Sprinkle half of the fresh basil over the sauce if using.

5 Repeat the layering process. Place a second layer of noodles over the sauce. Spread the remaining ricotta, spinach, and Mozzarella over the noodles. Sprinkle another quarter of the pecorino along with the Mozzarella. Top with another third of the mushroom sauce and the remaining fresh basil.  Layer your final layer of lasagna noodles over the sauce. Spread the remaining sauce over the lasagna noodles, and sprinkle with the remaining pecorino or parmesan cheese.

6 Pull out a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to cover the casserole dish. Spread a little olive oil over the inside of the piece of foil (the side that will have contact with the lasagna). Place the foil over the casserole dish and crimp the edges.  Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake uncovered for an additional 25 minutes.

Take the lasagna out of the oven when done and let it rest 10 minutes before cutting to serve. Once made, the lasagna will last a week in the fridge.

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Comments

    • Margaret Slater

      U really dont need the no boil.. it cooks just as well with the reg Lasagna the only difference is the price and of course having enough sauce to cook pasta while baking.

  1. Janet

    Looks delicious! I’ve been looking for a recipe like this and can’t wait to try it. I’d like to use no-boil lasagna noodkes, but I don’t know if regular noodles and no-boil are interchanable in recipes. I worry that a recipe designed for regular noodles wouldn’t have enough liquid to hydrate the no-boils. Do you have any experience with this? Thanks.

    • Elise

      Hi Janet,
      Great question on the no-boil noodles. I have never used them myself, so don’t know! If anyone reading this has experience using the no-boil noodles and adapting recipes for their use, please chime in.

      • Ron

        I’ve used ‘no-boil’ noodles and could not tell the difference between them and cardboard…d;^(

        Of course I’ve never even had fresh lasagna noodles!

      • Kathy

        Use the no boil noodles. I used to make vegetarian lasagne all the time (before I got married to a carnivore who doesn’t care for tomato sauce; how sad). The no boil noodles had just come out, and I was grateful for them, because I always had trouble with noodles sticking together.

        The no boil noodles actually worked extremely well with vegetable lasagne as there is much more liquid released by the vegetables (even with precooking), thus absorbed by the noodles.

        I also found that the lasagne needed to sit for at least 30 minutes to an hour before cutting to absorb the liquid; kind of like letting a roast “rest” before slicing. The lasagne was actually better the next day. I also made sure to have an extra jar of spaghettic or tomato sauce on hand just in case.

        And a good bechamel is fantastic on this too!

      • Jamie

        I made a mushroom lasagna for my vegetarian friends on Thanksgiving! I’ve used the no boil noodles in the last several times I’ve made a lasagna and they’ve worked really well. I find I like to put the lasagna together the day before or several hours before to let the noodles soak up the sauce and all of the flavors to really develop!

      • Kate Daniels

        It sounds like “no-boil” noodles are a special kind of noodle perhaps? In my own lasagna, I’ve used regular, dry store bought noodles and just added about 1/2 cup of water to the sauce. It worked out perfectly, tasted great!

        I plan to try this recipe with homemade noodles.

        • Dorothy

          I have made many many batches of Lasagna and used dry noodles. Yes, you do have to use a little more liquid and bake a little longer. Put a knife through to check if done.

    • Aaron

      We just made it last night using red quinoa polenta. It was amazing. My only problem was that since the polenta slides were round and not noodles, it doesn’t look as pretty on the plate.

  2. Rose

    Hi Elise! That’s a lovely picture of you (and the lasagne)! Could you freeze this? I cook for one and I love lasagne, but not several days running …

    • Elise

      Thank you Rose! Yes, you can freeze this. I would recommending cutting it up into portions first, then wrapping those portions in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil (foil should not be touching tomato sauce), and then freezing. That way you can defrost as needed.

  3. Jim

    I have not been boiling noodles before I cook them and found that if I cover the lasagna, it works great. Would this work in this recipe?

  4. Joni

    I make a similar recipe using Penne , spinach , ricotta …no mushrooms , but the other ingredients similar. It’s much easier than all the fuss with the lasagna noodles….still , I will try this variation soon. Probably this coming Christmas , since my family will be visiting for 5 days and this is a nice change from Turkey.

  5. Je Ae

    After the meatfest that is Thanksgiving at our house, a vegetarian dish sounds perfect. I hate making lasagna (takes too long), but this sounds too good to pass up. I’ve been too leery of the no-boil noodles but may have to suck it up and try it out.

    • Elise

      Yes. You’ll need 2 to 3 pounds of fresh spinach to produce 3 cups of chopped, cooked spinach. Soak the fresh spinach leaves in cold water to dislodge any dirt. Rinse and steam for a few minutes, until the spinach is wilted. You can either chop before or after you steam.

  6. Fancy

    This looks fantastic, I’m going to make it tonight! For the tomato sauce, do you just mean the canned plain tomato sauce or should it be prepared tomato sauce (either from scratch or bottled)? Thanks!

  7. Bronwyn

    The lasagne looks yummy. We do have a veggie friend & I might just make this for our social BBQ in a couple of weeks. Besides, we love veggie food as well.
    More importantly, that is a really gorgeous photo of you. It also makes the blog super friendly looking & reminded me you don’t have to be a master chef in any part of the world to make scrumptious meals for family & friends.

  8. Dan Crouch

    As Jules Winnfield said in Pulp Fiction, “My wife is a vegetarian; which pretty much makes me a vegetarian…” I’ve been trying to do more meals with her in mind instead of just making substitutions to my menu. This recipe hit my RSS reader this morning and I made it tonight. Took me nearly 3 hours start to finish but so worth it! Really delicious, thank you!

    dc

    btw — I haven’t cooked noodles before assembling lasagna in years. I think this was especially helpful in keeping everything together in this recipe, which is a bit juicy.

  9. Chris

    It is uncanny how often I come to your site only to find you’ve put exactly what I want on the front page. Not just lasagna, but mushroom and spinach lasagna. This looks extraordinary and I can’t wait to try it out!

  10. Janet

    Thanks, everyone, for all the suggestions about no-boil noodles. I have used them often and think they’re very good, but I was using recipes designed specifically for them. My concern is that a recipe like this one, designed for regular (boiled) noodles, wouldn’t have enough liquid to hydrate the no-boils, and would turn out dry, with undercooked noodles. Does anybody have any experience with substituting no-boil noodles for regular in general recipes?

    • JoanneNicole

      I’ve used the no-boil noodles interchangeably with any lasagna recipe I’ve cared to try out, and never had a problem with them not cooking, regardless of the amount of sauce. It’s a nice time-saver.

  11. Jayne

    Gasp! This is the answer to my lasagne woes! I have never really liked lasagne with all that minced beef in it. The need to simmer the sauce for half a day just to get the meat soft enough isn’t quite my thing. I’ve never really experimented with a different style but I think I just might very soon. Once I get some baby spinach, I’ll attempt this and see what happens.

  12. Mikey

    Your lasagna recipe went over very well at a gathering of friends last evening. I tweeked the recipe a little and still maintained a very tasty meal substituting items I had at home.

    I used fresh spinach (steamed and chopped), added some broccoli flowerettes, cottage cheese in clumps for the ricotta, shredded cheddar and jack for the two cheeses, and cooked the mushroom / tomato sauce for two hours to enhance the flavor and soften the ripe tomato flavor. I also used no bake pasta but accidently semi – parboiled it! – it came out just fine!!!

    My vegetarian and non vegetarian friends loved it – I personally am a carnivore and liked it. Did not miss the italian sausage – too much.

  13. Mary

    This looks so delicious that I mourn the fact that I am married to someone who will eat neither noodles nor mushrooms!!! Since this is the only major flaw, I’ll keep him, but it can really get to me when I see something like this that I would love to eat. Regularly. : )

  14. Mike

    This looks wonderful and I was just looking for a good vegetarian lasagna. I’m also a big mushroom and spinach. But, I have a bit of an “allergy” to tomato sauces. Would there be a substitute sauce I could use in your recipe ?

    • Elise

      Not with this recipe. You might find other recipes online that use a béchamel white sauce instead of a tomato sauce that might work for you. Or you might try it with the butternut squash pasta sauce in this recipe: .

  15. Nidha

    Your recipes almost always turn out beautifully.However ,tomato paste, canned tomatoes and tomato sauce( unless you are referring to tomato ketchup) isnt available in the part of India that I stay in. Could I replace them with tomato puree instead? how much tomato would I need?

  16. Anita

    Just finished eating… I am very pleased with this, even if clean-up was a bear! (But, that’s to be expected) Just a few comments – and I tried to make this exactly as written. I did not have enough noodles in the box to have 6/layer (much less for noshing!) – luckily I counted ahead and didn’t overlap so that I had enough. Also, the ricotta, as written, didn’t cover each layer, even using a knife to spread it as thin as I could. But there were enough other flavors to make up for that.

    And now I have a 10×15 pan for other purposes! Thanks for this recipe – will definitely make it again.

    • Elise

      Hi Anita, yes the ricotta doesn’t spread evenly. It’s more like sprinkled small clumps evenly dispersed. I used a full pound of lasagna noodles, perhaps Barilla brand, and had leftovers. But perhaps a different brand the noodles were thicker and therefore fewer of them? Glad you liked it!

  17. Jackie

    I made this for Sunday dinner, to assuage the guilt of the way I/we’ve been eating the past few days. I had some red chard in the fridge, so I added it to the mushroom sauce, along with some carrots because I usually add them to my sauce anyway. I also used two bags of fresh spinach, but didn’t wilt them first. I just layered them in there as is, and that worked fine. My in-home carnivore (actually I’m one too) was a bit leary of “veggie lasagna” but admitted it was much much better than he’d anticipated. He even actually said it was “very good”.

  18. Jackie

    I forgot to mention…the tip about oiling the sheetpan and laying the lasagna noodles out was great! That really helped a lot. Plus, when it came time to oil the aluminum foil, I just took the cut piece of foil, put it down on the sheetpan and moved it back and forth a few times, and it was oiled.

  19. Swati Carr

    I want to replace the tomato sauce for a bechamel-based sauce (my husband is fussy and does not eat cooked tomatoes). Would it still taste good? Do you have any recommendations for any other additions if I did go the bechamel route with this?

    Thank you! Your blog continues to inspire. :-)

    • Elise

      Hi Swati, great question. I have not made this lasagna with a bechemel instead of a tomato sauce. I’ve seen references online to spinach and mushroom lasagnas that do, so I would do a Google search and review the recipes you find. Your guess is as good as mine on this one.

  20. Arpana

    Hi Elise,
    This looks great and I am going to make it tomorrow for the eve. However, I had a question, can I add an egg to the ricotta & parmesan cheeses before layering, so they spread nicely (the way I do with Turkey lasagna). Or, will it ruin the consistency?
    Many thanks!

    • Elise

      That is a very good question. I haven’t made lasagna with an egg in the ricotta. But if you do so with your turkey lasagna, I assume this method works well for you? Then I would try it if you want.

  21. Alexis

    Well, if you replaced the ricotta cheese with cottage cheese i think it would tast a little better, anyway that’s my opinion.

  22. Pat

    I made a version of this — with several tweaks for personal preference and size of baking pan — using fresh-pasta sheets, not boiled before assembly. It was delicious! Lighter than the usual lasagna. The changes I made: substituted two tablespoons of tubed tomato concentrate for the can of paste, used a cup of a simple homemade sauce instead of the cup of water, used that same homemade sauce instead of the crushed tomatoes, added dried oregano instead of thyme and basil, skipped the sugar and pepper flakes, halved the spinach, added an egg to the riccota, used parmesan instead of pecorino, used about 3/4 mozarella and 1/4 provolone. What I forgot to add, and will do next time, is freshly ground nutmeg to the ricotta. I built this up quite deep (four layers) and covered it with my plain sauce rather than the mushroom sauce. It made for a cleaan looking top. Very attractive dish in the pan and on the plate. (FYI, the sauce I used was Marcella Hazan’s simple version: canned tomatoes crushed (I used Marzanos) and simmered with a halved onion and 2-3 tablespoons of butter for 25 minutes, then take out and discard onion.)

  23. amber

    I made this for my husband’s birthday and it was a hit! I steamed my own spinach which seems more fresh than frozen, and I used the OVEN READY LASAGNA NOODLES (“Skinner” brand)and they worked perfectly! I assembled it the night before I made it to make sure the noodles would be well cooked. Lovely recipe!

  24. Kevin

    I’m not sure I can ever go back to meat lasagna again (usually made with ground turkey). This was so delicious! The only change I made was to add an egg to the ricotta (helps with the spreading). I wondered about the absence of oregano, but it was not missed at all. The red pepper gave a nice kick. Intensely flavorful recipe with a satisfying texture. Thanks for this.

  25. Emma

    I just made this lasagna and can’t wait to try it tomorrow! I’ve prepared it and will oven bake it tomorrow. Do you suggest I cook it longer since it’ll be coming out of my refrigerator? If so, for how long? I can take it out in early to come to room temp. Thanks!!

    • Elise

      You will probably need to cook it a little longer, but not much. 5 minutes more maybe? Letting it sit out for a bit to come closer to room temp would help too.

  26. Clark

    This is an excellent vegetarian lasagne! I made it for a church sponsored event, and it was a big hit! One caveat, and I apologize if someone else has mentioned this in a previous post, but…20 minute prep time?!!? Maybe you can assemble it in 20 minutes, but it took 20 minutes to chop the onions, garlic and mushrooms. Total prep, including assembly, was about 1 hour.
    I made these changes: I used the no-bake noodles mentioned above, I can’t tell the difference and life is short. I used fresh spinach, cooked 4 minutes in the microwave then chopped and drained. I used closer to 2 cups of onions, and probably twice as much garlic, just because. These were minor tweaks.
    Really great! This is a keeper and a ‘sharer’!
    Clark
    Falls Church, VA

  27. Koy

    This recipe is awesome if you love a very saucy lasagna. I just made it with my partner and we love it. We used dried basil instead of fresh basil and it tastes amazing. Fresh basil would make it even better! We also used fresh baby spinach instead of frozen spinach and it turned out great. Be warned though, you will need a very big pan or possibly two smaller ones to get the proportions right. Awesome thanks!