Sunday, October 23, 2011

Recipe for Vegetarian Lasagna with Kale and Mushroom-Tomato Sauce

This vegetarian lasagna with kale may not be that photogenic, but it was delicious!

Recently I was having lunch with some blogging friends and we started talking about casseroles.  We all agreed that casseroles can be delicious and family-friendly, but they're also very hard to photograph!  I think lasagna may be at the top of the hard-to-photograph list, but this Vegetarian Lasagna with Kale and Mushroom-Tomato Sauce was so delicious I had to put some in the freezer right away so I didn't eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until it was gone.  You may think I'm turning into the Kale Whisperer, because this year I've used kale in a Kale and  Feta Breakfast Casserole, my new favorite pasta dish, and Kale and Romaine Caesar Salad.  Yes, I do love kale, but if you're not a kale fan you can try this lasagna recipe with Swiss chard, collard greens, or spinach substituted for the kale. 

I'm proud to say that so far I'm doing well on my goal of posting a meatless recipe every Sunday so it's ready for people who want ideas for Meatless Monday.   You can find more meatless recipes by using the label Meatless Monday or checking Vegetarian Recipes in the recipe index.  For Meatless Monday ideas from other bloggers, check Meatless Monday at BlogHer, where I write a weekly post spotlighting one of the fabulous meatless recipe ideas I find around the web.

Prepare 1/2 chopped onion, 6 cloves of finely chopped garlic, and 8 oz. of chopped brown mushrooms.

Heat oil and saute the onions about 3 minutes; add the garlic, mushrooms, ground fennel, and dried basil and continue to cook until the mushrooms have released their liquid and the liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes more.

While the mushrooms are cooking, cut up 4 cups of finely chopped kale.  Blanch the kale 3 minutes in boiling salted water; then let it drain well and cool.

When the mushroom water has evaporated, add 2 1/2 cups vegetarian marinara sauce and 1/3 cup water to the mushroom mixture, turn heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes.

While the kale cools, stir together 2 cups low-fat cottage cheese, 3 eggs, and 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan.  When the kale is cool, stir it into this mixture.

If you're a South Beach Diet fan you might be wondering how I make diet-friendly lasagna, but it's partly the Dreamfields low carb Lasagna noodles that make this recipe South Beach friendly.  Lately I'm having a hard time finding them, but you can use whole wheat lasagna if you can't find Dreamfields.   Spray a 9X12 inch dish with nonstick spray and then lay 3 uncooked lasagna noodles across the bottom. 

After it's cooked 15 minutes, add half the sauce, spreading it over the noodles so they're all covered.

Then add half the cottage cheese, egg, Parmesan, and Kale mixture.  Use a rubber scraper to spread it around.

Then sprinkle over 1 cup low-fat mozzarella or other low-fat white cheese.  (I used a four cheese blend of low-fat cheeses.)

Repeat with another layer of noodles, mushroom-tomato sauce, cottage cheese and kale mixture, and cheese.

Since you're starting with dry noodles it's very important to cover the dish with foil for the first 50-60 minutes of cooking.

After 50-60 minutes, take off the foil and continue to cook for 25-30 minutes more.

Here's how the lasagna looked when it came out of the oven.

I cut this into 8 servings, and here's my lunch on the day I made the lasagna!  That's a small salad plate, but it was a generous lunch for me.

Vegetarian Lasagna with Kale and Mushroom-Tomato Sauce
(Makes 8 servings; recipe created by Kalyn)

1 T olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped small
6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 oz. brown mushrooms, chopped small (I used Baby Bella crimini mushrooms, but you could use white mushrooms)
1 tsp. ground fennel
1 tsp. dried basil
2 1/2 cups vegetarian marinara sauce (I didn't have any homemade sauce, so I used Classico Tomato Basil sauce which was the lowest-sugar sauce I could find)
1/3 cup water (rinse out the jar or pasta sauce container)
4 cups finely chopped fresh kale, blanched 3 minutes in boiling salted water (see note below about using other greens)
2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
6 uncooked lasagna noodles (use Dreamfields or whole wheat lasagna for South Beach Diet)
2 cups low-fat Mozzarella or other low-fat white cheese (I used a low-fat four cheese blend)

Preheat oven to 375F/190C.  Heat the olive oil in a large heavy frying pan over medium heat; add onions and saute until they start to soften, about 3 minutes.  Add the chopped garlic, chopped mushrooms, ground fennel, and dried basil and saute about 5 minutes more, or until the mushrooms lose their water and the liquid has evaporated.  Add the vegetarian marinara sauce and water (rinsing out the sauce container with the water) and turn heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. 

While the sauce simmers, bring a pot of generously salted water to a boil to blanch the kale.  Chop the kale and wash if needed.  (If you have large kale leaves from the store you'll need to cut away the center ribs, then stack up the kale leaves and thinly slice one direction and then turn cutting board and slice in the other direction.)  Add the chopped kale to the boiling salted water and cook 3 minutes, then pour into a colander placed in the sink.  Let the kale drain well and cool at least 5 minutes.

While kale is cooling, mix together the cottage cheese, beaten eggs, and finely grated Parmesan.  Add cooled kale and stir together.

Spray a  9 inch X 12 inch lasagna dish with nonstick spray.  Lay 3 uncooked lasagna noodles across the dish.  Cover with 1/2 the mushroom tomato sauce, spreading it across the noodles so they're all covered with sauce.  Then add 1/2 the cottage cheese and kale mixture, spreading it out with a rubber scraper, and sprinkle over 1 cup of the grated low-fat Mozzarella.  Make a second layer of lasagna noodles, tomato-mushroom sauce, cottage cheese and kale mixture, and cheese.  

Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake 50-60 minutes without removing the foil.  Take the dish out of the oven and remove foil.  (I used a toothpick to check and see if the noodles were fairly soft at this point.  If they aren't I would cook a few more minutes with the foil on.)  Cook 25-30 minutes more with foil removed, or until the lasagna noodles are soft, and the lasagna is bubbling and lightly browned on top.  Let lasagna cool 5-10 minutes before cutting; then cut into pieces and serve hot.

This lasagna freezes well.  To reheat, thaw in microwave on low for 1-2 minutes, then heat on high for 2-3 minutes or until the lasagna is hot.  (You can also thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and heat in a covered casserole dish in the oven toaster oven.

To make with other greens:
If you don't want to use kale you could substitute swiss chard, collard greens, or spinach in this recipe.   All of those are "softer" in texture than kale (especially spinach) so I would blanch the greens for a shorter time, maybe as little as 1 minute for spinach.

South Beach Suggestions:
Using low-carb or whole wheat lasagna noodles and only a moderate amount of low-fat cheese and low-fat cottage cheese makes this recipe suitable for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet.  I might consider it a "once-in-a-while-treat" for phase 2 if you're actively trying to lose weight, but it would certainly be okay to enjoy occasionally.

More Tasty Ideas for Meatless Lasagna:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Vegetarian Lasagna with Quick-Roasted Tomato, Garlic, and Herb Sauce from Kalyn's Kitchen
Gluten-Free Roasted Vegetable Lasagna from Gluten-Free Goddess
The Best Vegetable Lasagna from Kath Eats Real Food
Spinach and Basil Lasagna from Andrea Meyers
Three-Cheese Pesto Vegetable Lasagna from Ms. Adventures in Italy
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.) counter customizable free hit
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More to Chew On:


  1. The lasagna looks fabulous. Love everything about this recipe!

  2. Looks delish! I love kale and need more ways to cook it. Photos turned out great.

  3. Tracy thanks so much. Great to hear from another kale lover. And good to know that the photos make it look tasty; dishes where all kinds of ingredients are mixed together are so hard to get good photos!

  4. Kalyn, I have never had kale. Is it bitter? What does it exactly taste like. I really want to try your recipe. It looks terrific.

  5. I'm not quite sure how to describe the taste of kale. It's a little more strongly flavored than spinach or collard greens, not quite as sharply flavored as swiss chard.d I think it can be bitter, but when it's cooked slowly for a long time like in this recipe I don't find it bitter at all.

    The Red Russian Kale is a bit more mild flavored so you could start with that variety!

  6. Perfect for meatless Mondays!

  7. You know I'm a sucker for kale! This would be a great recipe to make and freeze.

  8. Pam, thanks! That's just what I thought.

    Kelley, I have about half of this in my freezer right now!

  9. I will admit I prefer swiss chard to kale; this lasagne however looks delicious and I would gobble it down in no time, kale or no kale.

  10. I do love Swiss chard too, but the kale was great in this!

  11. Absolutely love kale and love vegetable-stuffed vegetarian lasagan! This has inspired me! So good!

  12. Kalyn the Kale Whisperer! I bet that you could turn that into some kind of cartoon superhero who convinces kids to eat their greens.

    Lasagna is definitely hard to photograph but I know that this must taste delicious nonetheless!

  13. The square slice is certainly photogenic! The thought of "the Kale Whisperer" made me laugh!

  14. Thanks Jamie. Love hearing from fellow kale lovers!

    Joanne, will have to remember Kalyn the Kale Whisperer for my next venture! (JK, but it's a fun thought!)

    TW, glad it looked appetizing. It was definitely tasty.

  15. I can't wait to try this recipe. So many fabulous ingredients. I agree, casserole dishes are so hard to photograph, but yours look great! :)

  16. Thanks Becky! Hope you enjoy it.

  17. You now have two official titles: Queen of the Breakfast Casserole (SO many great ones on your site) and the Queen of Kale. This looks fantastic, Kalyn!

  18. omg this loooks so great, i love kale and lasagna!

  19. Kale is just better when you make it. Seriously!


  20. Thanks Natalie!

    Donna, maybe I really am turning into The Kale Whisperer.

  21. I just pinned this to try soon. LOVE your recipes!

  22. Thanks Monica! Don't you just love Pinterest? I'm having so much fun with it.

  23. Kalya, I bought everything and am ready to go. One question of course!! The lasagna noodles aren't cooked?? Does that work? I thought I read it wrong. I looked at the box and it says to cook them. I just wanted to be sure. And kale is a new thing for me so anxious to try it!!

  24. Donna, I've made lasagna for years with dry noodles. (You do have to be sure the sauce has some extra liquid and cook it for the first part of the time tightly covered.) Hope you like it!

  25. This lasagna sounds really good and I am liking the use of the kale in it!

  26. Thanks Kevin! I was really happy with how it turned out.

  27. Glad to see you breaking the rule that veggie lasagnas have to have a white sauce!

  28. Caroline, I've always been quite a rule breaker!

  29. I love the gorgeous color of this lasagna. It looks irresistible.

  30. Thanks Barbara! I'm happy I still have some in the freezer.

  31. I had to come back after I made this last night and let you,and everyone else know how delicious it is. I used the red kale which I prefer,and followed the rec.exactly. For some reason I couldn't find the brand you mentioned in the lasagna noodle,so I bought the whole wheat. I also didn't cook the pasta first as usual but put it in dry as you did,hey it works! I think the only thing I would do next time is bake it in a disposable pan,as mine is going to be soaking for awhile. Thanks Kalyn

  32. RJ, so glad you liked it! Good to know that the dry noodles worked well with whole wheat too. And now I'm going to check the recipe to see if I forgot to say to spray the dish and if I did, my apologies!

  33. Kalya - having this for dinner now. Three yums - from my husband (we rate all the recipes with a yum!! -- or not!!) Anyway, Kalya I didn't even know what kale looked like - I had to ask in the grocery store what it was (and that was good cause I almost got collard greens!). Anyway, this is a big hit! So good. And enough for us to have tomorrow night. Thank you Kalya, you're turning me into a cook!!

  34. Donna, so happy you guys are enjoying it. And I'm glad I have converted you to kale!

  35. Thank you posting this. It turned out terrific. I wanted a good lasagna disk with Kale. Delicious! I used wheat noodles and it worked out great. I did not use onions or garlic as they don't agree with me but added the other spices -- all good! I think next time i could even add more kale and mushrooms!

    And next time i've got to make two batches to freeze one, as this is sooo good!

    Thanks again!!

  36. Maryann, so glad you enjoyed it!

  37. This was an excellent recipe! I loved the idea with the cottage cheese (I can't have ricotta)- and by fiance loved the kale.

  38. FifthFloorKitchen, so glad you both liked it!

  39. Classico sauces have been my pre-made favorites for years. Good choice!

  40. Siena, that is the only kind I ever buy!

  41. Great recipe, I've been looking for one that though meatless, has some heft and presence. When the sun comes up, I'll be out picking kale. Thanks1

  42. Tom hope you enjoy it as much as I did. And lucky you to have garden kale!

  43. This is Krystal. I love this recipe, I did a slightly different variation using spinach as recommended but also using 'grilled' zucchini slices as my lasagna noodles. I definitely recommend this for phase 1 and 2 sb dieters! Just cut the zucchini slices long ways to have a more lasagna noodle look and definitely pre-cook the zucchini to have more flavor and get rid of some of the water.

    Keep posting I cant wait for the next recipe!

  44. Krystal, so glad you enjoyed it! And more recipes to come!

  45. I can't tell you what a lifesaver your blog has been for me. Thank you for posting such amazing recipes! I wanted to ask, is it okay to prepare the lasagna the night before, refrigerate and then bake it the next day? I'm just trying to cut down on prep time for a dinner party :).

  46. I haven't done it that way, and truthfully I'm not sure how the uncooked noodles would be after sitting in the sauce overnight. I would probably cook it ahead, but cook it slightly less than the specified time. Then put it back in the oven and cook the rest of the time when you're going to serve it. Be sure to count the time for it come back to room temperature after it's been refrigerated when you calculate how much longer to continue cooking.

  47. Just wanted to say this turned out great! Everyone loved it and the only complaint I have is I won't know how it tastes the next day because everyone took a piece home with them and we don't have any left! Super easy to prepare and since I baked mine in a toaster oven it cooked in much less time than in a regular oven. I'll definitely be making this one again. Thank you for posting this!

  48. I was wondering if I could do this WITHOUT the mushrooms. Neither my husband nor I like them. Should I substitute the mushrooms with zucchini or something else or can I just have the kale, cheeses and sauce with the noodles?

  49. You can definitely make this without the mushrooms. I'd probably just leave them out instead of substituting something.

  50. I made this tonight and it was delicious and easy to make. For the sauce, I simply used a can of San Marzano peeled tomatoes. I pureed the tomatoes in a blender, and it added a fresh taste with no sugar! Also, I prefer ricotta over cottage cheese and it worked very well. Bravo! Keep 'em coming!


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