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.
- Prep time 20 minutes
- Cook time 35 minutes
- Serves 6 to 8
- For assembling lasagna:
lasagna noodles (about 8 ounces), either regular or no-boil
(roughly) marinara sauce, either homemade or store-bought (from a 24-ounce jar, such as Rao’s)
(or 16 ounces) full-fat ricotta cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 3/4 cups
cooked white beans (from one 15.5-ounce can), drained and rinsed
(or 8 ounces) shredded mozzarella
- For any-greens pesto:
greens (one or more of: kale, spinach, Swiss chard, arugula, basil, and parsley)
toasted pine nuts
extra-virgin olive oil
Finely grated lemon zest + 2 teaspoons juice, from 1 lemon
finely grated Parmesan
kosher salt, plus more to taste
red pepper flakes, or to taste
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Layer the second row of 4 lasagna noodles, 1 cup sauce, half the remaining white beans, and half the remaining ricotta-pesto mixture.
- 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.
- 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.