Okay, I’m just going to lay it out there right away– this isn’t really a lasagna. Please put down your pitchforks, food-name-purists, and open your hearts to this layered lasagna-esque casserole of zucchini, eggplant, spinach, cheese, and bechamel. It’s seriously yummy, no matter what you call it in-between mouthfuls.
Ever since I first made the Zucchini, Feta, and Spinach Fritters, I’ve been coming up with excuses to put those ingredients in EVERYTHING. A delicious dish that gets me to eat some extra vegetables? I’m not even going to try to fight it.
This Mediterranean Vegetable Lasagna uses zucchini and eggplant instead of noodles for the layers, and can be gluten-free if you use gluten-free flour for the bechamel. It’s also vegetarian as it stands, but if you’re more of a meat-eater, feel free to add some browned, seasoned ground beef or lamb.
I have to give a big thanks to Karen, a family friend who was visiting from Kentucky for the first time in 12 years (that’s half of my lifetime) when I made this. Karen jumped right in and was giving advice for everything I cooked and photographed, and was so helpful. Karen, if you ever want to come back and be my kitchen assistant, I’d be happy to have you, haha!
Actually, if anyone would just like to come over and be my kitchen assistant, FIND ME. If you like to do dishes and listen to me ask you a million times, “Does it taste good? Do you like it? Does it need x? Should I add y? Can you try this again? Do you like it? Does it need x?” then you belong here.
I will pay you for your time and effort in taste-tests and mildly interesting stories that I will probably retell again and again. Oh and facts. I am one of those people who assumes you want to know about everything I learned this week. I know. But like I said, taste-testing. That’s good, right? Don’t run away… please…
Luckily, this Mediterranean Vegetable Lasagna didn’t require too many dishes, as there were no noodles to boil, and I didn’t need to pre-roast the vegetables. The vegetables actually cook wonderfully in the lasagna, and the bit of juices that remain after salting them cook into the rest of the lasagna and really pull the flavor together.
Also, don’t feel limited to eggplant and zucchini. If you’d like to add in peppers or mushrooms, for example, go ahead! Use up the last of your fresh summer produce and feel free to experiment with different herbs from your garden or grocer– Mediterranean food uses tons of different herbs, so parsley, dill, and oregano would all work great here as well! It’s all about making what you like with what’s available to you. If you do switch it up, please let me know in the comments!
- 3 zucchini, sliced very thin, length-wise (I recommend using a mandoline)
- 1 small eggplant, sliced thin into circles
- Salt, for drawing out excess water
- 8 oz frozen spinach, thawed
- 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup torn mint leaves, plus more for topping
- 1/4 cup torn basil, plus more for topping
- ½ teaspoon chili flakes, plus more for topping
- 1 egg
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup mozzarella
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups milk
- 3 tablespoons flour (gluten-free, if desired)
- Pinch nutmeg
- 6 small yellow tomatoes, halved, to top
- Parmesan cheese, to top
- Drizzle olive oil
- Take the thinly sliced zucchini and eggplant and salt both sides generously. Place in a colander to drain for 30 minutes. Then, transfer the zucchini and eggplant to double-layered paper towels to absorb the remaining excess liquid. Let sit for another 30 minutes.
- As you wait for your vegetables to release the excess liquid, ring out and drain all excess water from your frozen spinach. Make sure you’re thorough, as excess water will make your lasagna soggy.
- After an hour total of salting the vegetables, pat and wipe them dry.
- In a moderately large bowl, combine the spinach, feta, minced garlic, 1/4 cup mint, 1/4 cup basil, 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes, and 1 egg. Mix until well combined.
- Spray an 8″ x 8″ casserole dish with non-stick spray. Layer the bottom with eggplant slices.
- Directly on top of the eggplant slices, layer the zucchini slices, overlapping them slightly. Top with the feta-spinach mixture.
- Add another eggplant layer and another zucchini layer. Sprinkle with the mozzarella. Add another zucchini layer or an eggplant layer. If you have leftover vegetables, saute or roast them to serve on the side.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Make the bechamel. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Mix in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute or until thickened and golden-brown. Slowly mix in the milk, whisking constantly until well-combined, smooth and thick. Mix in a pinch of nutmeg and a dash of salt and pepper.
- Pour the bechamel on top of the lasagna. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until the bechamel begins to brown.
- As the lasagna cooks, combine the yellow tomatoes, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, a few small leaves of mint and basil, and a drizzle of olive oil in a small bowl. When lasagna is finished, remove from oven and sprinkle with the salad mixture and a bit of parmesan cheese. Let cool 10 minutes and serve.
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