Eggplant Lasagna- a cozy, hearty vegetarian dinner recipe made easy with no-boil noodles. Top it off with flavorful Arugula Almond Pesto! Keto, GF and Vegan-adaptable!
This delicious Eggplant Lasagna is so warm and comforting -it is one of those dishes you actually get kind of excited about the leftovers. I am actually eating the last piece as I type, and feeling a bit sad about it. After making a big batch last Sunday- it has been nourishing me all week long. Vegetarian comfort food at its best!
Why make Eggplant Lasagna?
What I love about this recipe is how surprisingly light it is. It’s hearty, don’t get me wrong- eggplant is filling and “meaty” but it doesn’t feel overly cheesy or heavy- meaning, it does not put me in a food coma.
There are just enough no-boil lasagna noodles to give it structure without completely taking over- making the eggplant the real star of the dish.
Roasting the eggplant is probably the thing that takes the most time, but I’ve made it as easy as possible for you. I really don’t think you’ll mind the process.
And once that part is done, just assemble and bake. You can also tackle this in stages, roasting the eggplant a day ahead. Or if you live somewhere warm, grilling the eggplant is even easier and adds great flavor!
Eggplant Lasagna | 60-sec video
The thing that elevates this Eggplant Lasagna is the Arugula Pesto. Yes, of course, you can always use store-bought pesto or your own version of pesto would work fine too.
But if you have an extra 5 minutes, make the Arugula Pesto, trust me, you need this in your life. 😉
How to Make Eggplant Lasagna
Prep the Eggplant & Preheat the oven to 400F
How to cut Eggplant for Lasagna:
Slice 3 large globe eggplant, lengthwise, into 1/2 inch thick slices. You can cut them into rounds, but then there are more to manage that way.
Place onto 2 parchment-lined sheet pans.
Salt the eggplant to release water and remove bitterness.
Let this sit 15-20 minutes, allowing them to sweat, which removes bitterness, while the oven heats up.
Blot the moisture that is released from the top side.
Then flip them over. Repeat: Blot and spray. Easy, right?? 🙂
Roast the Eggplant to prevent watery Lasagna!
Roasting the eggplant ahead prevents the lasagna from becoming watery. Place the eggplant in the middle of the 400 F oven until deeply golden 30-40 minutes.
Roast until translucent and golden. So check them and be intentional here. Undercooked eggplant is never good.
Step 2: Make the Filling
While the eggplant is roasting, make the filling. Saute one onion and 4-8 garlic cloves.
Add a heaping mount of fresh spinach.
Wilt it and season with salt and pepper.
Even though I used whole milk ricotta here, it did not feel even remotely heavy – so I recommend using whole milk ricotta.
Step 3: Assemble the eggplant Lasagna
Here I’m using a 25-ounce jar of store-bought marinara sauce.
Add the lasagna noodles, add 3/4 cups more sauce, then overlap half of the eggplant.
Top with 1/2 of the ricotta mixture.
Add all the filling. It doesn’t look like I added it all here but I went back and added the rest, and forgot to take a picture.
Please add all the filling. 🙂
Sprinkle with 1/2 cup or 3/4 cup mozzarella and a few tablespoons of pecorino (or parmesan).
Add the second, final layer of no-boil lasagna noodles.
Cover with 3/4 cup marinara sauce.
Add the remaining eggplant overlapping.
Top with the remaining marinara sauce.
Add the remaining ricotta- yep it will be on the top this time. Sprinkle with Mozzarella and Pecorino.
This is what I’m using:
FYI: I do prefer saltier pecorino here versus tangier parmesan. Up to you.
Step 4: Bake the Eggplant Lasagna
Cover with parchment and foil (basically don’t let the foil touch the lasagna) and bake covered, until bubbling, then uncover for the last 10-15 minutes until golden and bubbling.
Step 5: Make the Arugula Pesto
While the Eggplant Lasagna is baking, make the Arugula Almond Pesto. It only takes 5 minutes and it totally elevates.
When it is done, it will be slightly puffed, golden and delicious smelling – and you’ll feel especially proud of yourself.
Bask in it.
It brings me joy just thinking about it.
Garnish with the arugula pesto or serve it on the side.
Because I can read your mind, let me answer some of your questions. 😉
Can I make the Eggplant Lasagna recipe without lasagna noodles to make it keto or low carb?
- Yes. I would increase the eggplant by roasting off one more. You can also brown some ground meat with the onions before adding the spinach to “beef it up”. Or add mushrooms!
- I will say, I do like the structure the lasagna noodles add, especially when using these thin no-boil lasagna noodles, they are very very light. Even cutting back to one layer is an option. 🙂
Can I make this Gluten-Free?
- Yes of course, here are no-boil gluten-free lasagna noodles -they do exist!
Can this be made ahead?
- Yes, feel free to make and assemble the Eggplant Lasagna ahead and bake it before serving (bring it to room temp first).
- Or make it in stages: Roast the eggplant ahead, make the ricotta mix ahead, and the arugula pesto ahead refrigerating all. Assemble and bake the day of.
- It does reheat well also.
Can this be frozen?
I don’t know. My guess is probably, and I would freeze after baking- but haven’t personally tried this. If you try it, please let us know the results in the comments below.
Can this be made vegan?
Yes, again, probably! I haven’t tried this- but what I would do is make the tofu ricotta recipe, leave out the egg but add the basil and nutmeg. Use meltable vegan cheese as a substitute. Again, if you try this, please let us all know how it turns out…very curious. 🙂
Other Cozy Vegetarian Recipes you might like!
- Butternut Lasagna with Mushrooms and Sage
- Polenta Lasagna with Smoky Red Pepper Sauce
- 20 Vegetarian Dinner Recipes!
- Baked Ziti with Mushrooms & Spinach (No Boil!)
- Zucchini Lasagna Roll Ups with Spinach & Basil
I truly am excited for you to try this Eggplant Lasagna. It’s a beautifully rewarding meal to make on a slower Sunday, and then you’ll get to enjoy the leftovers during the workweek.
A beautiful nourishing gift to yourself and your family.
P.S. I used something similar to this 12- inch Clay Baking Dish if you are interested!
- 3 large eggplants (about 3 lbs)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, spray olive oil or ghee
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- one onion, diced
- 4–8 garlic cloves, rough chopped
- 6 ounces baby spinach, about 2 extra-large handfuls
- Salt and pepper to taste ( 1/4 teaspoon each)
- 16-ounce tub of whole milk ricotta (or sub tofu ricotta)
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup chopped basil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 24-ounce jar marinara sauce, about 3 cups
- 8 no-boil lasagna noodles (or sub- gluten-free lasagna noodles)
- 1– 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella (or meltable vegan cheese)
- 1/4– 1/3 cup pecorino (or parm, but I like pecorino better here)
- 1/4–1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
One batch Arugula Almond Pesto
- 1 large garlic clove
- 1/4 cup toasted almonds, pinenuts or smoked almonds
- 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
- 1 cup packed arugula
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/3–1/2 cup light flavored olive oil (make sure oil is not bitter)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (if your almonds are heavily salted, use salt to taste.)
- 1/4 cracked pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 F
- Sweat and ROAST EGGPLANT: Slice eggplant into 1/2-inch thick slices and place on two parchment-lined sheet pans. Sprinkle half the salt over the top as evenly as possible. Turn each piece over and sprinkle the remaining salt. Let the eggplant sit (and sweat) 15-20 minutes while the oven gets hot. When the eggplants look damp, pat the top side down with paper towels. Brush or spray with olive oil. Flip them. Blot with paper towels, spray with olive oil. Roast in the middle of the oven for 30-40 minutes, checking at 25 minutes. Roast until golden and tender. Thinner slices will cook faster, thicker slower. Watch your eggplant!
- SPINACH FILLING: While the eggplant roasts, make the filling. In a large skillet, saute the onion, over medium heat until. tender about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant. Add the fresh spinach, lowering heat, gently wilting. Season with salt and pepper, turn heat off.
- RICOTTA MIXTURE: In a medium bowl, whisk with a fork, the ricotta, egg, nutmeg, basil and salt. Set aside.
- ASSEMBLE: Spray or brush a 9×13 baking dish (or 12-inch round baking dish) with olive oil. Place 3/4 cup marina sauce on the bottom, or enough to cover the bottom. Place the no-boil lasagna noodles over top. Spread another thin layer of marinara over the pasta, or just enough to lightly coat. Add half the roasted eggplant, overlapping a little if need be. Dot with half of the ricotta mixture. Spoon all of the wilted spinach mixture over top evenly. Sprinkle with 1/2- 3/4 cup mozzarella and 1/8 cup pecorino. Add another layer of pasta sheets. Lightly cover with 3/4 cup marinara (you’ll need one more layer of marinara for the top, so if it looks like you could run out, water this down a bit here.) Next add the remaining eggplant, overlapping if need be. Smother with the remaining marinara sauce and spoon the remaining ricotta in fluffy dollops over the top. Sprinkle with a few chili flakes, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/8 pecorino.
- BAKE: Cover with foil (if your lasagna comes to the top edge of the baking dish, cover with parchment first and then with foil) and bake in a 375 F oven for 45-50 minutes, uncover and bake 10-20 more minutes, until golden and bubbling.
- While it is baking make the Arugula Pesto – place everything in food processor and pulse until combined, but not too smooth. Add more oil, to make it looser if you like, or less to make it thicker.
- The lasagna is done when it is golden, bubbling and slightly puffed in the center.
- Let it rest 5 minutes before serving, dot it with Arugula pesto or serve it on the side.
Additions: Feel free to add ground meat or mushrooms to the onion mixture to “beef” it up. I find the eggplant is quite filling on its own, but up to you. Just make sure your filling is seasoned and flavorful if adding to it. 🙂
LOW CARB: YES you could leave out the lasagna sheets altogether and use the eggplant as the “pasta” here for a keto version. I would add one more eggplant. I like the structure the lasagna noodles bring, but it’s good without too.
To reheat, let it come to room temp, cover, bake at 350F or 375F oven for 25-30 minutes. Or microwave.
- Serving Size: 1/8th without pesto
- Calories: 371
- Sugar: 9.5 g
- Sodium: 722.7 mg
- Fat: 19.9 g
- Saturated Fat: 9 g
- Carbohydrates: 33 g
- Fiber: 8.4 g
- Protein: 16.8 g
- Cholesterol: 70.7 mg
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