Vegetarian Lasagna "Bolognese" with Plant-Based Meat


This faux lasagna Bolognese delivers all the comforting flavors of the Italian classic, thanks to layers of richly seasoned plant-based meat and a quickly simmered marinara. Cheesy spinach and tender zucchini pack in even more vegetables, which get an extra umami boost from plenty of parmesan. If you've never cooked with plant-based meat before, trust your instincts and your eyes; it browns as it cooks, just like ground beef.

Lasagna Bolognese with Plant-Based Meat
Photo: Photo by Ellen Mary Cronin / Food and prop styling by Radin+Croney Collective
Active Time:
55 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs
6 to 8 servings


  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick planks

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 ½ cups chopped yellow onion

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 3 (12-ounce) packages plant-based ground "meat"

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 1 tablespoon black pepper, divided

  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (preferably no salt added)

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, divided

  • 1 jarred roasted red bell pepper, chopped

  • ¼ chopped fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish

  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning, divided

  • Crushed red pepper (optional)

  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed

  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 ½ pounds mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 6 cups), divided

  • ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese (about 7 ounces total)

  • Cooking spray

  • 4 fresh (no-boil) lasagna noodles (from an 8.8-ounce package)


  1. Season zucchini slices with remaining 1 tablespoon salt and arrange in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with paper towels. Allow zucchini slices to drain for 30 minutes; remove excess salt and moisture with paper towels and pat dry.

  2. Meanwhile, make the sauce: Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is tender and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add 1 package plant-based ground meat, and cook, stirring frequently and breaking apart larger pieces into smaller pieces, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer browned "meat" to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon and, continue browning the remaining plant-based ground meat in two more batches until all has been browned. Return all browned "meat to the pot and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; set aside.

  3. Combine crushed tomatoes, 3/4 cup fire-roasted diced tomatoes, and 1/3 cup chopped bell pepper in a food processor and process until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Add tomato mixture, remaining 3/4 cup fire-roasted diced tomatoes, and remaining 1/3 cup chopped bell pepper to pot with meat and stir until well combined. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste (if using). Bring sauce mixture to a boil over medium-high; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is fragrant and slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Stir in chopped basil and set aside.

  4. Drain thawed spinach in a strainer, and wrap tightly in paper towels; squeeze excess moisture out of spinach until dry. Stir together ricotta, eggs, spinach, 1/4 cup mozzarella, grated parmesan, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning in a medium bowl until well combined; set aside.

  5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread about 1 1/2 cups meat sauce in an even layer on bottom of baking dish. Cover with 2 lasagna noodles, and spread 1 cup spinach and cheese mixture over noodles; top evenly with 1 1/2 cups meat sauce, and sprinkle with 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese. Arrange zucchini slices in an even layer over mozzarella cheese. Spread 1 cup spinach and cheese mixture over zucchini slices; top evenly with 1 1/2 cups meat sauce. Sprinkle with 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese; top with remaining 2 lasagna noodles. Spread remaining 1 cup spinach and cheese mixture over noodles, and top evenly with remaining 1 1/2 cups "meat" sauce; sprinkle with remaining 1 3/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese and shredded parmesan cheese.

  6. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake, covered, until edges are bubbly and cheese topping has melted, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove foil from pan and continue baking until the top of the lasagna is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Let lasagna cool for 5 minutes, then cut and serve, garnished with chopped basil, if desired.

Make Ahead

Lasagna can be made up to a day in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator.

Related Articles