Italian lasagna with tomato sauce and cheese served with tomatoes and spinach, light concrete background. Homemade vegetarian lasagna.

Vegetarian Lasagna

Lasagna is one of those go-to comfort food meals that just hits you in the heart. But, if you aren't careful, it can definitely hit you in the gut, too!  This is why I enjoy making a lighter version of the Italian classic – vegetarian lasagna – which has all of the delicious flavors of the dish we all love but by subbing meat and most of the cheese for veggies, it makes for a healthier, lighter, yet satisfying dish.

Vegetarian recipes with UC and Crohn's

As Crohn's and ulcerative colitis patients, we also tend to not digest raw vegetables the same way other individuals do, leaving holes in our diet where vitamin-rich ingredients should be. By cooking the vegetables for this recipe, it makes them easier to digest yet it doesn't strip them of their quality vitamins and nutrients. Another benefit of making this lasagna is that you can cook your veggies ahead of time, making the cooking process easier during busy work nights.

And like most lasagnas, this dish freezes well, making it perfect to plan ahead and eat at a later time, or divide into individual servings to pull out when needing a quick lunch or dinner for one. I also like to make this a day before I am going to eat it, as I feel that the longer the ingredients sit together, the more flavor comes out making it even more delicious!

Serves 12

Ingredients for vegetarian lasagna

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, diced
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 48 ounces of marinara sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes (optional if you can tolerate spice)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 5 ounces baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 8-ounce package of ricotta cheese
  • 9 oven-ready (no boil) lasagna noodles (gluten-free substitution works, too!)
  • 16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese, about 4 cups
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Chopped fresh basil or parsley, for serving

Vegitarian lasagna directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, and zucchini and cook until softened, 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the marinara sauce, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and parsley to the skillet and stir. Bring to a simmer and then reduce the temperature to low. Cook at a low simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then stir in the chopped fresh spinach. While the sauce simmers, crack the egg into a medium bowl and beat lightly with a fork. Add the ricotta cheese and stir to combine. This is also a good time to shred the mozzarella cheese.
  4. To assemble the lasagna, put about 1 cup of the sauce into a 9x13-inch baking dish. Lay 3 noodles in an even layer over the sauce. Spread 1/3 of the remaining sauce over the noodles. Place small spoonfuls of the ricotta and egg mixture on top of the sauce, using 1/2 of the ricotta. Sprinkle 1/3 of the mozzarella and 1/3 of the parmesan over the top.
  5. Repeat the same layer one more time: 3 noodles, 1/2 of the remaining sauce, the rest of the ricotta, 1/2 of the remaining mozzarella, and 1/2 of the remaining parmesan. For the top layer of the lasagna, use the remaining 3 noodles, the rest of the sauce, and finally the rest of the mozzarella and parmesan. Cover the lasagna with a piece of foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray on the underside (to prevent the cheese from sticking to the foil).
  6. Bake the lasagna in the center of the oven, covered with foil, for 35 minutes. (Put a rimmed baking sheet on the rack below the lasagna to catch any drips of sauce.) Then uncover and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until the lasagna is hot and bubbling on the sides and the cheese is lightly browned on top.

Important: Let the lasagna rest for 15 minutes before serving. Do not skip the rest time, or the lasagna will be too soupy when serving.

Crohn's and ulcerative colitis recipes

When it comes to cooking with IBD, we're all working from a different set of ingredients. Food sensitivities and dietary restrictions vary greatly from person to person, and there is no one diet recommended for Crohn's or ulcerative colitis. Check out our full list of recipes for more ideas – all from people who cook, eat, and live with IBD!

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Nutrition facts

Per Serving

  • calories: 430
  • cholesterol: 63mg
  • dietary fiber: 4.1g
  • potassium: 595mg
  • protein: 24g
  • saturated fat: 7.5g
  • sugars: 12.1g
  • total fat: 16.8g

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