Cheeseless lasagna, aka veggie marinara casserole

When we decided to go vegan I knew cheese would be the hardest to let go. I'd be lying if I said I was completely over it. I was ADDICTED to cheese. I will say, however, that it has been easier to breakup with cheese than I had imagined. 

Through this process I've learned one important lesson: mindset matters. Really, it's all about changing your mindset. Cheese isn't required for most dishes to be delicious. It's a component, but not the only component. 

It was my husband who suggested a cheeseless lasagna and I'm so glad he did! I shared this recipe with friends and they laughed, saying if there's no cheese, it's not lasagna. Ok, fine! We will call this veggie marinara casserole. Everyone wins!

I'm old school when it comes to cooking - I usually taste my way through cooking (picture your grandma explaining her favorite recipe) but I'll do my best to explain my process:

Veggie Marinara Casserole

1 large zucchini
12-15 pieces of breaded eggplant (I used frozen)
1 box of lasagna noodles (I prefer whole grain organic)
15 oz of spinach
1 box mushrooms
2 (15 oz) jars of marinara sauce

  1. Prep the veggies - Dice the spinach, slice the mushrooms and slice the zucchini very thin. I used a mandolin for the zucchini. When cooking for my kids I dice the mushrooms instead of slicing. 
  2. Pour 5-6 oz (1/3 of the jar) of sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 in pan. Lay out 3 lasagna noodles. No - you don't have to cook the noodles first! Then layer all the spinach over the noodles. Cover again with sauce and more noodles. Continue this process, making a layer of zucchini and a layer of mushrooms with noodles and sauce in between each layer. Finally, cover again with the remaining sauce. The final layer should be your breaded eggplant. 
  3. Cover your lasagna loosely with aluminum foil. I also recommend placing the pan on a cookie sheet to prevent a bubbly mess in your oven.
  4. Bake at 425F for about 45 minutes. Then, take the foil off of the top and bake another 10-15 minutes. For crispier eggplant, broil 5 minutes under high heat. 

I assembled this lasagna and placed in the refrigerator to cook the next day. The key when using raw noodles is to make sure it is saucy. Don't be afraid of your marinara - it's your best friend in this recipe!!