Delicious vegetarian Cottage Cheese Lasagna is made with layers of lasagna noodles filled with veggies, cottage cheese, marinara, and of course mozzarella cheese. Cottage cheese is a healthy alternative to ricotta cheese and you'll never know the difference!
If there's one thing you should know about me, it's that I love homemade lasagna. Correction: I love cottage cheese lasagna.
If you couldn't tell, I'm on a big cottage cheese kick. You can easily enjoy it first thing in the morning in the form of a cottage cheese breakfast bowl, or in the afternoon as cottage cheese dip. Both are delicious, easy and protein-packed!
- Similar to your favorite vegetarian lasagna, but with cottage cheese instead of ricotta, which has a very similar texture and flavor.
- Made with no meat and is instead filled with vegetables like carrots, onion, zucchini, and spinach.
- The perfect recipe for serving a crowd, and you can prep the filling ahead of time to make it even faster.
- Cottage cheese has many health benefits, including high in protein and calcium.
Noodles - I prefer using longer lasagna noodles, vs. the short, fatter ones, because I think they're easier to layer. But, that's just a personal preference.
Vegetables - A combination of carrots, onion, zucchini, spinach, and garlic works well. Feel free to make substitutions, specifically for the zucchini and spinach, if you're not a fan.
Cottage cheese - Small curd and full fat works best; you want it to resemble ricotta as much as possible.
Parmesan cheese - Optional; I like stirring the grated parmesan and cottage together, but you don't have to use it.
Marinara sauce - Use your favorite pasta sauce! I typically opt for arrabbiata because I like a spicy sauce.
Mozzarella cheese - Shredded.
Step 1: Cook the vegetables. Pulse the carrots, onion and zucchini in your food processor a few times, then transfer them to a large skillet. Sauté with a bit of olive oil over medium heat until soft, about 5-8 minutes, then add the spinach and garlic and cook for 1-2 more minutes.
Step 2: Cook the noodles. While the vegetables are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles until they're al dente; drain and run cold water overtop so they don't stick together. NOTE: don't overcook the noodles! Otherwise, they'll be too soft to work with.
Step 3: Make the filling. Transfer the cooked veggies to a large bowl, then add the cottage cheese, parmesan, salt, and pepper and stir everything together.
Step 4: Assemble. See the recipe card below for the full instructions. Essentially, you'll layer noodles, topped with cottage cheese mixture, marinara sauce, and mozzarella cheese in a large baking dish.
Step 5: Bake. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, then place it in the oven and bake the lasagna for 15 minutes. Remove the foil, then continue baking for 10-12 minutes until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle fresh parsley or basil on top, slice and enjoy!
Tips and tricks
- Whole milk/full fat cottage cheese is going to resemble ricotta the most, so that's what you'll want to use in this recipe.
- Don't over-mix the vegetables! When you pulse them in your food processor, you want to pulse them no more than 8 times. Or, you can chop them by hand.
- Don't forget to add salt and pepper to taste to the cottage cheese mixture.
- Make sure you spray the baking dish with cooking spray! Otherwise, the sides of the noodles may stick.
- Zucchini - Can omit, or use yellow squash or diced tomatoes
- Spinach - Try kale instead (just make sure to remove the stems)
- Vegetable mixture - Meat can be used instead of vegetables; see below in the Q&A section for how to do so
- Parmesan - Omit, or try asiago cheese
How to correctly layer lasagna?
You'll want to layer the lasagna in this order: Marinara sauce on the bottom of the pan, three lasagna noodles, HALF of the cottage cheese/veggie mixture, 1 cup marinara, ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese. Then repeat this process one more time. The final layer will be: three lasagna noodles, 1 cup marinara sauce and 1 cup mozzarella cheese.
Can I use cottage cheese in place of ricotta cheese?
Sure can! That's why I created this recipe. I almost always have cottage cheese in my fridge, but rarely have ricotta. Cottage cheese is a protein-packed alternative to ricotta, and I doubt you'll be able to tell the difference.
Can I add meat to cottage cheese lasagna?
Sure! If you'd prefer something similar to traditional lasagna, you can add 1 lb. ground beef, ground turkey or even Italian sausage to the filling. To do this, cook the meat first, then set it aside. Omit the zucchini and spinach; otherwise, there will be too much filling.
Refrigerator: Cover the baking dish with a lid, then store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Freezer: Lasagna is an excellent freezer meal! Simply cook it, then cover it with aluminum foil and place the entire baking dish in a freezer-safe bag (or, transfer the lasagna itself to a small container). You can freeze lasagna for up to 3 months.
Reheating: If you're reheating from frozen, you should thaw the cottage cheese lasagna in the refrigerator overnight. Then, reheat it in the oven at 375° until it's warmed through.
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Cottage Cheese Lasagna
for the cottage cheese mixture:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 carrots chopped
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 1 zucchini chopped
- 5 oz. spinach chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 16 oz. full fat cottage cheese small curd
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese shredded
- salt and pepper to taste
for the lasagna:
- 9 lasagna noodles
- 2 ½ cups marinara sauce
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- fresh basil for garnish
- Start by chopping the carrots, onion and zucchini and place them in a bowl. Then, chop the spinach and mince the garlic and place them in a separate bowl. Now, preheat the oven to 400°.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet, then add the carrot/onion/zucchini mixture and sauté until soft, about 8 minutes. Then add the spinach and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Transfer the cooked veggies to a large bowl.
- While the veggies are cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then cook the lasagna noodles until they're al dente -- be careful not to over-cook or they'll be too soft to work with and fall apart.
- Add the cottage cheese and parmesan to the bowl with the veggies and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Next, assemble the lasagna: spread ½ cup marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish, then place 3 lasagna noodles on top. Spread HALF of the cottage cheese mixture on top, then 1 cup of the marinara sauce, then ½ cup of mozzarella cheese. Repeat this same process, starting with 3 lasagna noodles for the second layer. For the final layer, add the last 3 lasagna noodles, then top them with 1 cup of marinara sauce and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.
- Cover the dish with aluminum foil, then place it in the oven and bake it for 15 minutes. Remove the foil, then bake for an additional 10-12 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
- Top the lasagna with chopped fresh parsley or basil, then slice it into 12 pieces. Enjoy!
- Refrigerator: store in a covered baking dish in the refrigerator for up to 5 days
- Freezer: Or, store in a covered dish in the freezer for up to 3 months
- Reheating: thaw lasagna in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat in the oven at 375° until it's warmed through