Vegetarian Lasagna Recipe with Spinach and Ricotta Filling for a Crowd, using No-Boil Noodles

Vegetarian Lasagna With Ricotta And Spinach
Vegetarian Lasagna Recipe with Spinach and Ricotta Filling

Vegetarian lasagna (aka veggie lasagna) might be a bit of a cliche, but everyone loves it, and it has the great advantages that you can do it ahead for a crowd, and it finishes in the oven, so you can concentrate on your guests.

I make mine without a bechamel sauce, opting for a spinach and ricotta mixture to provide the creaminess. I also prefer it to set up to a fairly firm, sliceable “pie”, but if you like a wetter version, you could do the sauce 1.5 x or even double.

I love to bake it in this Emile Henry lasagna pan – it looks beautiful and homey at the same time. We’ve given that pan as a wedding gift, too – because what says home more than a nice lasagna?

The keys to a great veggie lasagna are (1) get all the liquid out of the veggies, (2) get the cheese on top really crispy. You don’t want to go too heavy on the vegetables, otherwise you can get a lot of weeping and/or unpleasant crunchiness. For this version, the only thing I added besides the spinach was some sauteed cauliflower. If you’d like more vegetables but no weeping liquid, check out this summer squash and portobello mushroom lasagna variation.

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I often make this with no-boil lasagna noodles. They are pretty much just standard noodles except rolled thinner, so that they simply cook in the sauce while the lasagna bakes. I would say they are 87.3% as good as traditional. Perhaps a slight pastiness, but quite acceptable. They need more sauce to ensure proper moistening. If you want to use regular noodles, just boil them first according to package directions and simmer the tomato sauce a bit more to thicken it (or use less of it).

Vegetarian Lasagna Recipe with Spinach and Ricotta Filling for a Crowd, using No-Boil Noodles

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: At least 8 servings

Vegetarian Lasagna Recipe with Spinach and Ricotta Filling for a Crowd, using No-Boil Noodles

  • Note: vegetarian; not vegan or gluten-free
  • 1 plastic produce bag stuffed tightly full of spinach (preferably not baby spinach)
  • 1 pound ricotta
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 head cauliflower florets and some stem, cut into small bite-sized pieces
  • 2 large (28 oz.) cans plain tomato sauce
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • No-boil lasagna noodles (or regular lasagna noodles - par-boil first) - enough to fit your pan, 4 layers
  • 1 pound grated mozzarella cheese
  • 4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Clean the spinach well. Place in a microwave safe bowl, cover loosely with a plate and microwave until fully wilted, about 5 minutes. Allow to cool, then squeeze out all water. (A good way to do this is by wrapping in a clean dish towel and twisting.) In a medium bowl, stir together the spinach, ricotta and nutmeg. Add salt and pepper to taste, then stir in the eggs.
  2. Put the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally until translucent (about 2 minutes), then add the cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 more minutes. Add the tomato sauce and lemon zest, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 more minutes. Taste and adjust salt.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375. Oil an lasagna pan (at least 2″ deep). Build up layers of noodles, sauce, ricotta mixture, and mozzarella. Be sure to get the noodles quite wet since they are the no-boil type and need plenty of moisture. You’ll have about 4 layers total. I do sauce on every layer, but ricotta on some and mozzarella on others.
  4. Finish with a heavy layer of mozzarella and the parmesan, mixed together.
  5. Bake , covering with tin foil part of the time if needed to avoid overbrowning. It is done when internal temp is say 170 F. (check a few spots) or when you can easily pierce the noodles with a fork, and the sauce is bubbling around the sides.
  6. If the cheese isn’t crispy and brown enough, finish judiciously with the broiler.
  7. Allow to rest at least 15 minutes before serving so it has time to set up a bit.

Lasagna on Foodista

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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, December 29th, 2008 in Favorites, Kid Friendly, Main Courses, Recipes.

31 Responses to “Vegetarian Lasagna Recipe with Spinach and Ricotta Filling for a Crowd, using No-Boil Noodles”

  1. Reply
    December 29, 2008 at 7:19 am #

    This looks delicious! I don’t like regular lasagna with all the tomato sauce, so this sounds great!

  2. Reply
    December 29, 2008 at 9:50 am #

    If you’re okay with a wetter lasagna, even regular noodles can be no-boil, provided you cook the ‘gna long enough. Mmm, winter comfort food. In other news, I recently impressed the heck out of my out-laws with your five-minute Indian-style cabbage recipe. Thanks again — that one’s a keeper for sure.

  3. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    December 29, 2008 at 10:29 am #

    I was wondering whether regular noodles can be used in a no-boil fashion.
    Thanks for letting me know without having to risk the experiment myself :).
    And I’m delighted you liked the cabbage!

  4. Reply
    December 30, 2008 at 2:59 am #

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  5. Reply
    December 31, 2008 at 3:06 pm #

    Looks yummy! I’m not a fan of the crispy cheese top though preferring mine to be gooey. Yours may change my mind though!

  6. Reply
    April 5, 2009 at 2:22 am #

    This looks great. I make something similar with radicchio which I grow in my garden and it is to die for.. if you like the bitter taste. I mix the radicchio with the ricotta and finish with bechamel. Sometimes I finish with gorgonzola…

  7. Reply
    October 17, 2009 at 7:20 am #

    This recipe rocked the house for a girls’ night in…plus I discovered that cauliflower can taste good. I’ve since sauteed it to spruce up spaghetti sauce.

  8. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    October 17, 2009 at 1:23 pm #

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    @rebecca – I'm glad you liked the lasagna! Now that you are a cauliflower lover, try oven roasting it – olive oil, salt, 450 until getting some nice dark brown spots. The caramelization is killer.

  9. Reply
    November 14, 2009 at 6:44 pm #

    Real happy to have found your blog. Great creativity with vegetarian cooking. Lasagna in the oven as I write this. Can’t wait to try!

  10. Reply
    December 2, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    This Italian girl is looking for veggie version and I’m going to give this one a try. It sounds great–the nutmeg and lemon zest sounds like a really nice touch. Can’t wait to try it!!!

  11. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    December 2, 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    Thanks Kim! Hope you like it. I've got another version too, with portobellos and summer squash: link to

  12. Reply
    December 19, 2010 at 6:54 am #


    Do you think broccoli could be substituted for the cauliflower?


  13. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    December 19, 2010 at 7:19 am #

    Yes, I think that would be just fine. Be sure and cut it up small so it doesn't interfere with the texture.

  14. Reply
    February 3, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    I’m making this for tonight for the second time in a week. Last Friday, it fed 5 hungry skiers and they loved it. Substituted chard for the spinach since that’s what I had in the house. I also use my homemade meatless pasta sauce in place of plain tomato sauce. It adds a whole dimension of garlic, anise, wine, and heirloom tomatoes canned at the height of the season last year.

  15. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    February 3, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    Glad you like the recipe! There is nothing like a hearty meal after a day of skiing. Your homemade pasta sauce sounds great – the anise is a smart addition, it boost the umami when cooked with onions. (A very interesting reaction).

  16. Reply
    February 20, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    Just made this (added some zucchini) and it is FANTASTIC! Thanks so much for another great recipe (your blog is one of my favorites)

  17. Reply
    Megan Keogh
    October 10, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    Michael, houseful of relatives next week – do you think it would be OK for me to make and then freeze before cooking. I’m really looking forward to trying this recipe!


  18. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    October 10, 2011 at 7:17 pm #

    Hey Megan – well, I've never tried freezing this, either before or after baking so I have no direct experience to go on, but this web page appears to have some useful tips: link to – if you try it, please let me know how it turns out.


  19. Reply
    January 16, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

    Hi Michael,

    I’m clearly late to the party on reading and commenting. Just wanted to say that I’ve made a lasagna with kale (stems removed) and red sauce without previously cooking either the noodles or the kale, and it turned out pretty good.
    Thank you for keeping this blog updated so regularly with beautiful food.

  20. Reply
    March 29, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    I JUST made this – it is my very first lasagna I’ve ever made! (I’m new to cooking). It is so outstanding!! Thank you for posting it! I will use this recipe for the rest of my life. 🙂 Thank you.

    • Reply
      March 30, 2012 at 2:54 am #

      Hey Virginia – congrats on your first lasagna, and I’m glad you liked it! By the way, if you feel like branching out, you might want to try this one too: link to

  21. Reply
    May 11, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    This rocked the casbah.

  22. Reply
    August 22, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

    About how much spinach does this recipe call for (by weight)? In the markets nearby, I can only find spinach in pre-packed containers.

    • Reply
      August 24, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

      Hi Maya –

      I apologize, I wrote that recipe quite awhile ago and the way I’ve specified the measurement certainly isn’t easy to translate! I’d guesstimate about 12 ounces.

  23. Reply
    August 24, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

    BTW I just bought your cookbook and the recipes look great! I can’t wait to try out those recipes!

    • Reply
      August 24, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

      Thanks for buying it, Maya, and I hope you enjoy it! Keep me posted as to what you make. A nice place to stay in touch is the Herbivoracious facebook page: link to

  24. Reply
    November 22, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    This looks great. I don’t care for eggs, I will try it out without and see what happens…

  25. Reply
    February 21, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    Although I eat meat, I’ve never been a fan of meat lasagna. This is by far the tastiest vegetarian lasagna I’ve ever tasted!! The lemon zest takes it over the top! I added mushrooms and used boiled pasta, but followed the recipe otherwise. Definitely adding this one to my repertoire! Thank you!!

  26. Reply
    December 15, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    This recipe is phenomenal! The second time I made it I used more spinach than called for in the recipe and also added 1 diced squash and 1 zucchini to the cauliflower (which I chopped more finely than the first time and it was better). I love that I can add additional veggies and get more nutritional value without taking away from the amazing-ness of the recipe.

    • Reply
      December 15, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

      Sounds like great customization!

  27. Reply
    January 15, 2014 at 7:55 am #

    Great tip about the veggies, amazing site, looks delicious

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