Thin slices of eggplant replace traditional lasagna noodles in this easy homemade vegetable lasagna. The dish is low carb, gluten free and assembling the layers of eggplant is easy. Vegetarian comfort food made simple!
Last week, I found myself with a huge craving for lasagna. There’s just something about the comfort and warmth that only a layered casserole can bring!
I started going to work on my classic classic vegetarian lasagna recipe, only to find that I was in the mood to change it up a bit. So, I decided to focus on eggplant and tried my hand at using mushrooms to create a yummy, “meaty” bechamel sauce.
It was a success, and so this Eggplant Lasagna was born! And boy, was it worth the extra time spent experimenting in the kitchen! This grain- and gluten-free dish is mouth watering, savory, and perfectly cheesy. The sauce has the texture of a meat sauce but remains completely vegetarian.
Interestingly enough, this no noodle lasagna is low carb! That being said, it’s a wonderful option suitable for guests with many different diet preferences, like those who might need a gluten-free lasagna. So if you’ve been on the hunt for a recipe for vegetable lasagna, this is it.
“I made this in place of my regular meat sauce lasagna. I used diced tomatoes in my tomato sauce to make it chunkier. My grandkids loved it and did not know there was no meat in the sauce just that there were no meatballs. it is a winner in my book.” —Dino
Ingredients for eggplant lasagna
This easy, low carb eggplant lasagna is one of my favorite healthy vegetarian dinner ideas. It contains three main parts: eggplant, mushroom bolognese sauce, and a ricotta mixture. Since each part contains its own set of ingredients, I broke everything down into simple sections. Here’s what you’ll need to make your own gluten-free lasagna!
Eggplant: For the eggplant portion of this recipe, you only need three ingredients: eggplants, salt, and olive oil. The salt is used to remove the moisture from the eggplants, an essential step for using eggplant as noodles in a lasagna. Many choose to make vegetarian lasagna with zucchini (see this zucchini noodle lasagna), but I prefer to use eggplant for it’s flavor absorbing potential!
Sauce: Next, it’s time for the sauce! Instead of using a meat sauce, we will be making a mushroom-based bolognese. This portion of the recipe requires olive oil, garlic, marinara sauce, basil, salt, crushed red peppers, and of course, button mushrooms!
Ricotta Mixture: Lastly, we’ll be making our own version of bechamel. Though lasagna is often made with white sauce, I like using a ricotta mixture because it’s easier to prep. This mixture uses ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, spinach, an egg, oregano, and salt, and makes the finished lasagna creamy and cheesy!
How to make lasagna with eggplant
Step 1: Sweat the eggplant
To begin making no pasta lasagna, cut the eggplant lengthwise into ⅛ inch slices. This is easiest with a mandolin slicer. Next, sprinkle the slices evenly with salt on both sides, then set on a few layers of paper towels. Set aside for 15 minutes. When finished, place some more paper towels on top, and firmly pat the eggplant slices as dry as possible.
Salting the eggplant removes bitterness and moisture and helps to create a firmer lasagna in the end.
This tool makes quick and even slicing a breeze!
Step 2: Precook the eggplant
After sweating the eggplant, it’s time to let it precook. Preheat the oven to broil. Then, place the eggplant slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and brush on both sides with oil.
Broil for 3 to 5 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking until the eggplant is tender and slightly browned. Depending on the amount of eggplant slices and the size of your baking sheet, you may need to work in batches.
When finished, remove the eggplant from the oven and set the temperature to 350°F (175°C).
Step 3: Make the “meat” sauce
Next, we have the “meat” sauce. To give the lasagna a meaty texture, we will be making a vegetarian-friendly mushroom bolognese.
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Then, add the garlic and mushrooms, cooking uncovered until the mushrooms sweat out their moisture. This should take about 5 to 7 minutes.
Finally, add the marinara, basil, salt, and crushed pepper. Cover and let gently simmer for about 10 minutes while you prepare the next step.
Step 4: Prepare the ricotta
Though bechamel sauce is often used in lasagna, we will be using a ricotta mixture to keep this dish gluten-free. To create the ricotta mix, stir together the ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, thawed spinach, egg, oregano, and salt. If you’d like, you can use cottage cheese!
Step 5: Begin to assemble
Next, it’s time to assemble the lasagna! I use a 9×9 casserole dish, but any similar sized casserole or baking dish will work. You’ll be making three full layers that use ⅓ of the given ingredient each time:
Sauce > Eggplant > Ricotta
Repeat until all of the ingredients are used. Then, sprinkle the top with the remaining ½ cup mozzarella and ½ cup parmesan.
Step 6: Bake the lasagna
Finally, the lasagna is ready to bake. Do so for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving, as the inside will be piping hot.
Tips for enjoying the perfect lasagna
Preparing ahead of time
To prep this dish ahead of time, prepare as directed above, but do not bake. Cover the layered casserole dish with a secure lid or wrap and place in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When ready, remove from the refrigerator and bake as directed.
Don’t skip salting
Salting your eggplant is a crucial first step. Without it, the eggplant will get soggy and mushy. Properly “sweat” these veggies to remove moisture and allow them to get perfectly firm during cooking.
Layer as directed
It may be tempting to try and pile all of your ingredients into only two separate layers, but don’t. Doing so could prevent your dish from cooking properly. Take the extra few minutes to create the correct amount of layers. As a result, your tastebuds (and your guests) will thank you!
How to store this dish
Extra eggplant lasagna can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Be sure to use a well-sealed container. Leftover lasagna can be reheated in the microwave in small increments.
Recipes that pair well with no noodle lasagna
Here are some wonderful vegetarian side (and dessert) options that pair extremely well with this vegetarian eggplant lasagna! Feel free to whip together any of these tasty side dish ideas. The Sweet Potato Gnocchi is an easy fan favorite!
- Sweet Potato Gnocchi
- Baked Feta
- Tomato Mango Bruschetta
- Herby Ricotta Stuffed Peppers
- Vegan Panna Cotta (a wonderful dessert option!)
- 3 medium eggplants
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil 30 mL
- 1 Tbsp olive oil 15 mL
- 3 cups diced mushrooms 225 g
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 24-oz jar marinara sauce* 680 g
- 2 Tbsp sliced fresh basil
- ½ tsp salt
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- 1 15-oz package ricotta cheese 425 g
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese divided, 200 g
- 1 cups shredded parmesan cheese divided, 100 g
- 1 10-oz package frozen spinach thawed, 283 g
- 1 large egg
- ½ tsp oregano
- ¼ tsp salt
- Sweat Eggplant: Cut eggplant lengthwise into ⅛ inch slices (this is easiest with a mandolin slicer). Sprinkle slices evenly with salt on both sides, then set on a few layers of paper towels and set aside for 15 minutes. When finished, firmly pat eggplant as dry as possible with paper towels.
- Precook Eggplant: Preheat oven to broil. Brush eggplant slices on both sides with oil, then broil for 3 to 5 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking, until eggplant is tender and slightly browned. You may need to work in batches. When finished, remove eggplant from oven and set temperature to 350°F (175°C).
- Sauce: Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add garlic and mushrooms, cooking uncovered until mushrooms sweat out their moisture, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add marinara, basil, salt, and crushed pepper. Cover and let gently simmer for about 10 minutes, while you prepare the rest.
- Ricotta: Stir together ricotta, 1 ½ cups mozzarella, ½ cup parmesan, thawed spinach, egg, oregano, and salt.
- Assemble: Into a 9×9 inch (or similar size) casserole dish, layer – ⅓ of the sauce > ⅓ of the eggplant > ⅓ of the ricotta mixture > repeat until all ingredients are used. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup mozzarella and ½ cup parmesan.
- Bake: For about 30 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving.