I make a pretty epic veggie lasagna. I wish I could claim it as my own, but I follow the recipe for Green Kitchen Stories World's Best Vegetable Lasagna verbatum. The truth is in the title. Usually when I see “best” in a recipe title I pass on it because apparently I have trust issues, but this one is legit.
That said, the recipe is quite the endeavor. Definitely a Sunday afternoon project, not a recipe you make on a random Wednesday like I once attempted because I also apparently have a case of Kanyefidence when it comes to weeknight cooking.
This vegetarian polenta lasagna is inspired by the flavors in that epic lasagna recipe - spicy chili flecked tomato sauce, caramelized fall vegetables, and a lemon zest flecked ricotta. But it actually is weeknight friendly because I used a couple of shortcuts. First, a jarred arrabiata sauce stands in for homemade. I’m partial to Cucina Antica. Then, I used pre-cut vegetables and sauteed/roasted them instead of grilling. I know that sounds like two steps, but with precut veggies, it takes no time at all.
The biggest short cut I take is swapping slices of polenta for cooked lasagna noodles. So basically, it probably doesn’t count as lasagna but rather a polenta pie. 🤷♀️ I took a couple tubes of precooked polenta, cut it into rounds, and layered it as you would lasagna noodles. Have you ever cooked with precooked polenta rounds? It's a great ingredient to have on hand for quick meals and side dishes. It’s also a whole grain, so it’s packed with filling fiber and nutrients. This swap also makes the dish gluten free for those with celiac. Of course, you can easily use regular lasagna noodles if you’re not sure about the whole polenta thing.
With the shortcuts, while it's not exactly a 30 minute meal, it's definitely weeknight doable.
Feel free to swap in different seasonal vegetables - asparagus and spinach in spring or zucchini and eggplant in the summer.
This recipe was originally posted March 2015. Images and text have been updated to give you the best possible content.
Vegetarian Polenta Lasagna with Kale, Butternut Squash & Mushrooms
For mozzarella, I suggest using a low-moisture mozzarella versus pre-grated or fresh, as this melts a little better. Look for Polly-O or Trader Joe’s also sells it.
Serves 6-ish, depending on how hungry you are
12 ounces precut butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil plus 2 teaspoons
1/2 lb kale, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
2 18-ounce tubes of precooked polenta, cut into 32 slices
1 26-ounce jar arrabiata tomato sauce
16 ounces organic ricotta cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
8 ounces mozzarella, sliced or grated
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Toss squash with 2 teaspoons oil, season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and roast for 30-35 minutes until browned and tender. Remove from oven, reduce heat to 375 and set aside squash until ready to assemble.
While squash is cooking, heat remaining olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add kale, garlic and saute until starting to wilt, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste, and about 1/4 cup water to help it steam. Continue to cook until kale is wilted and mushrooms are tender and golden, about 7-10 minutes total.
Meanwhile, mix the ricotta cheese, egg, zest, oregano, and basil.
To assemble lasagna, spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish. Place 12 polenta rounds evenly on the bottom. Top with half the kale and mushroom mixture, half the squash, and half the ricotta. Spread another 1/2 cup tomato sauce over the top. Repeat with another layer of polenta and the remaining vegetables and ricotta. Top with another 1/2 cup of tomato sauce, and the remaining 12 polenta tubes. Finish by spreading the rest of the tomato sauce over the top of the polenta, and topping with the mozzarella.
Bake for 50-55 minutes until lasagna bubbly and the mozzarella is melted and golden. Let sit for 10 minutes for before slicing and serving.
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