Make Ahead

Weeknight Lasagna With Any-Greens Pesto & White Beans

March  4, 2021
6 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Amanda Widis.
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 35 minutes
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

This is a speedy, virtually foolproof vegetarian lasagna, thanks to no-boil noodles (more on that in a bit!), red sauce (either jarred or homemade), and a quick greens pesto and ricotta filling. Despite its simplicity, it’s one of my favorite lasagnas—light, earthy, and bright from the pesto and white beans, with plenty of golden cheese blanketing the top. Even better, it’s a lasagna that sets up perfectly every single time, with no worries about a falling structure once you dish it up.

It’s also easily adaptable, thanks to a flexible pesto that can be made year-round. Use whatever seasonal greens or herbs you have hanging out in your fridge—sturdy kale, collards, or Swiss chard, baby greens like arugula or spinach, or tender herbs like basil or parsley. Plus, the process of making the pesto renders the greens plenty tender without needing to take the extra step of blanching and squeezing them dry.

A note on the lasagna noodles: If you’re wondering if you have to buy a box of the no-boil variety to make this recipe, you don’t! Simply soak regular dried lasagna noodles in hot, salted water while you prep the other ingredients. They’ll start to soften and finish cooking in the oven. I prefer the ruffled edges and toothy texture of regular noodles, but either variety works well in this recipe.

What You'll Need
  • For assembling lasagna:
  • 12 lasagna noodles (about 8 ounces), either regular or no-boil
  • 3 cups (roughly) marinara sauce, either homemade or store-bought (from a 24-ounce jar, such as Rao’s)
  • 2 cups (or 16 ounces) full-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 3/4 cups cooked white beans (from one 15.5-ounce can), drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups (or 8 ounces) shredded mozzarella
  • For any-greens pesto:
  • 8 ounces greens (one or more of: kale, spinach, Swiss chard, arugula, basil, and parsley)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Finely grated lemon zest + 2 teaspoons juice, from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 1 pinch kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. If using regular lasagna noodles: In a large pan or bowl, cover the noodles in very hot tap water (or cold water warmed in a kettle until about 120°F) seasoned with salt; let the noodles soak for about 10 to 15 minutes while preparing the rest of your ingredients. (Note: a longer soak time may cause the noodles to stick together, so drain and separate them after about 15 minutes). If using no-boil noodles, you can skip this step.
  3. Lightly oil an 8 by 12-inch baking pan for a thicker lasagna (my preference!), or a 9- by 13-inch pan for a thinner version.
  4. To make the pesto: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the greens until finely chopped (adding the greens in batches for them to all fit), then add the pine nuts and garlic. Pulse again until integrated. Stream in the olive oil. Add Parmesan, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Taste, and season to taste with kosher salt. Alternately, make the pesto by hand chopping the greens with a knife. Note: This is a less oily pesto than traditional versions given the volume of greens.
  5. Transfer pesto to a medium bowl. Stir in ricotta. Taste again and add more salt, if needed, and several grinds of black pepper. (Take the time to get the seasoning right!). Add the egg, and stir until smooth.
  6. Spread 1 cup pasta sauce in the prepared dish. Arrange 4 slightly overlapping noodles atop the sauce. (Gently tap noodles against the bowl to shake off any water.) Top with roughly one-third of the white beans, then spread roughly one-third of the ricotta-pesto mixture over in an even layer.
  7. Layer the second row of 4 lasagna noodles, 1 cup sauce, half the remaining white beans, and half the remaining ricotta-pesto mixture.
  8. Repeat with one more layer of 4 lasagna noodles, 1 cup sauce, and the remaining white beans and ricotta-pesto mixture. Evenly sprinkle the mozzarella over the top.
  9. Cover lasagna with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. (If using an 8 by 12-inch dish, bake over a sheet pan in case any of the sauce bubbles over.) Uncover, then continue baking until the mozzarella is melted and browned, about 15 to 18 minutes longer. Let stand at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Dana
  • EmilyC
  • Kaja1105
  • Amy

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

5 Reviews

Dana August 15, 2023
Lasagna is most certainly a labor of love, but this recipe worked out great for a weeknight as promised! I never went crazy for pesto until I tasted one made from scratch, so I'm always super excited for recipes starring homemade pesto. For the pesto greens, I used rainbow Swiss chard, parsley, and basil. Instead of pine nuts, I used roasted pistachios that I had on hand. I didn't have any parmesan or mozzarella, so just used a block of havarti for the top of the lasagna. I had some chickpea/lentil no-boil noodles and a jarred plum tomato marinara that worked out well. Citrus has to be one of my most beloved ingredients, and the touch of lemon zest here was perfect. Lovely and forgiving recipe!
Kaja1105 March 4, 2021
I made this a couple of weeks ago and am planning to make a second batch soon. I had the better part of a big bunch of farmer's market basil plus some odds and ends of kale and Swiss chard, so the pesto was a great opportunity to use up produce. I used jarred sauce and parboiled my noodles (bad tap water here, so best to just boil purified water from the under-sink system), and the prep did take me longer than 20 minutes but was totally doable on a weeknight. I used dried cannellini beans that I had prepared and stored in the freezer rather than canned. This was a hit, and we looked forward to eating the leftovers for lunch. There is a lovely lightness to it that one might not expect given the ingredient list.
EmilyC March 5, 2021
Wonderful -- so glad you're making it again! I agree on the lightness -- for me, it's that little bit of lemon zest and juice that makes a big difference. Thanks so much for trying this and circling back -- appreciate it!
Amy February 18, 2021
Great! Usually I make as much as I can from scratch, so I took the suggestion here and used Rao's sauce and arugula pesto from local natural foods store - with added chopped fresh basil I had left form another dinner. Didn't have enough mozzarella so added shredded chihuahua. I did parboil my noodles, but it was still easy. Thank you!
EmilyC February 18, 2021
Yay, so happy you made and liked it, Amy! Thanks for your note.