This twist on lasagna has become a staple in my house, no matter the season. Due to this recipe alone—though zucchini bread is always a hit, too—we have planned extra zucchini into our garden space. This one-pan dinner casserole freezes well, and so it is easy to prepare ahead for a quick dinner option on-the-go, also.
This recipe combines a few different textures, offering the same noodle feel from zucchini “zoodles,” a bit of crunch from the polenta, and the classic smooth sweetness from the tomato sauce. The cheese layer between the noodles may be adapted with any preferred spices and herbs.
The polenta on the bottom of the pan is what makes this dish unique. Since zucchini naturally contains a lot of moisture, the polenta “crust” in this recipe simplifies prep just that much more. By using dry polenta to absorb the water that will leach from the zucchini in the cooking process, it eliminates the need to bleed the water out of the zucchini by some other means, using its moisture to the advantage of the dish!
Due to the function of the polenta in this dish, it is also possible to experiment more in time, adding other very moist ingredients to the layering process. Fresh tomatoes and yellow crookneck squash also contain a lot of moisture, and are easy to add to this recipe, as well.
Vegetarian Zucchini Polenta Lasagna
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 35-45 min.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 cup uncooked, dry polenta
- 2 medium zucchini
- 1 - 15-oz can of tomato sauce
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese (1/2 cup for filling and 1/2 cup for the top of the dish)
- 2 eggs
- 2 cloves of pressed or minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- dash of sriracha or spicy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon herbs de provence or other combination of herbs/spices of choice
- optional: handful of dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, chard
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly oil a 13x9-inch casserole pan with a teaspoon of olive oil.
- Sprinkle one cup of uncooked, dry polenta in the bottom of the pan to cover it completely. This will act as the “crust” and absorb moisture from the raw zucchini to become just like cooked polenta.
- Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the zucchini length-wise into very thin strips about the thickness of normal lasagna pasta noodles. If you have a mandolin available, this is preferable and makes the process easier. Slice both zucchini into as many long, thin slices as possible: 1/4- to 1/8-inch thick is the goal.
- Lay the “zoodles” (zucchini noodles) flat, one layer thick, along the polenta to cover it completely as the first “zoodle” layer.
- Mix together in a separate bowl the ricotta, parmesan, 2 eggs, garlic, salt, pepper, sriracha, herbs, and optional choice of leafy greens.
- Spoon half of this mixture onto the “zoodle” layer you just laid on top of the polenta and spread evenly.
- Add another layer of “zoodles” on top of the ricotta mixture.
- Spoon half of the tomato sauce onto that and spread evenly.
- Add another layer of “zoodles,” then the remainder of the ricotta evenly spread, then more “zoodles” (at this point, it may be necessary to lay the remaining strips of “zoodles” either thinly or thickly, depending on what remains based on the size of the zucchinis used).
- Then use the remainder of the tomato sauce evenly spread on top to finish up all the ingredients.
- Sprinkle the top tomato sauce layer with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese and a dash of herbs de provence for garnish, if you like. (If you don’t want the parmesan cheese topping to brown so much, sprinkle it on top after cooking the lasagna without it for about 25 minutes first, and then add the parmesan cheese and cook for the remaining time.)
- Bake in a 400-degree oven for 35 to 45 minutes. The top of the lasagna should be golden brown and kitchen should be fragrant with delicious smells!
Meal Prep Tip: If you do not want to bake the lasagna yet, simply cover it with plastic wrap (or bee’s wrap) and tin foil to seal for storage in the freezer. When ready, remove from the freezer to thaw for at least 6 hours prior to baking in a 400-degree oven for 35-45 minutes.