Lightened Up Cheesy Quinoa Lasagna Bake

Lasagna is an all-time classic comfort food, but not exactly lite.

A pound each of mozzarella, ricotta, ground beef, sausage, and noodles doesn’t work for me.

Lightened Up Cheesy Quinoa Lasagna Bake (vegetarian/vegan, GF) - This meatless & noodle-less lasagna is hearty, comforting & healthier so you can enjoy your favorite comfort food without worry!

This lasagna bake is meatless, noodle-less, gluten-free, and uses just 8 ounces cheese for the whole pan. Use vegan cheese to keep it vegan rather than vegetarian.

I won’t say it tastes ‘just like lasagna’ but for me, that’s okay. Lasagna is way too heavy and I’ve never like ricotta anyway.

Lightened Up Cheesy Quinoa Lasagna Bake (vegetarian/vegan, GF) - This meatless & noodle-less lasagna is hearty, comforting & healthier so you can enjoy your favorite comfort food without worry!

If you’re looking for an easy family vegetarian dinner that’s lighter, ready in 1 hour, makes planned leftovers, and is also budget-friendly, this one is for you.

The leftovers are even better because the flavors marry and have more time to develop.

Lightened Up Cheesy Quinoa Lasagna Bake (vegetarian/vegan, GF) - This meatless & noodle-less lasagna is hearty, comforting & healthier so you can enjoy your favorite comfort food without worry!

To make it, cook the quinoa on the stove, which takes about 15 minutes. I used white quinoa. Use your favorite.

Transfer the cooked quinoa to a large mixing bowl and toss with your favorite jarred or homemade marinara sauce, shredded cheese, a tiny drizzle of olive oil, basil, salt and pepper. I used fresh basil, but dried is fine.

Lightened Up Cheesy Quinoa Lasagna Bake (vegetarian/vegan, GF) - This meatless & noodle-less lasagna is hearty, comforting & healthier so you can enjoy your favorite comfort food without worry!

Transfer to a baking dish, bake for about 45 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and is golden, and the edges are set.

Dinner is ready in one hour from start to finish. Love that.

Lightened Up Cheesy Quinoa Lasagna Bake (vegetarian/vegan, GF) - This meatless & noodle-less lasagna is hearty, comforting & healthier so you can enjoy your favorite comfort food without worry!

It’s hearty and comforting, but in a lighter way so you feel full and satisfied, but not stuffed or in a gluten and grease coma, which can happen after traditional lasagna.

Serve it with a salad or steamed or roasted veggies, and you’re set.

Lightened Up Cheesy Quinoa Lasagna Bake (vegetarian/vegan, GF) - This meatless & noodle-less lasagna is hearty, comforting & healthier so you can enjoy your favorite comfort food without worry!

My family loved this and I was happy knowing not only that it was healthy, but that I had leftovers to pack in lunches the next day.

It’s the simple things.

Lightened Up Cheesy Quinoa Lasagna Bake (vegetarian/vegan, GF) - This meatless & noodle-less lasagna is hearty, comforting & healthier so you can enjoy your favorite comfort food without worry!

Lightened Up Cheesy Quinoa Lasagna Bake (vegetarian/vegan, GF) - This meatless & noodle-less lasagna is hearty, comforting & healthier so you can enjoy your favorite comfort food without worry!

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Lightened Up Cheesy Quinoa Lasagna Bake

Lasagna is an all-time classic comfort food, but not exactly lite. A pound each of mozzarella, ricotta, ground beef, sausage, and noodles doesn't work for me. This lasagna bake is meatless, noodle-less, gluten-free, and uses just 8 ounces cheese for the whole pan. Use vegan cheese to keep it vegan rather than vegetarian. It's hearty and comforting in a lighter way so you feel full and satisfied, but not stuffed or in a gluten and grease coma. This vegetarian, family-friendly dinner is ready in one hour, makes planned leftovers for lunches the next day, and is budget-friendly, too.

Yield: 9x9 or 9x13, serves 8

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes stovetop, 45 minutes oven

Total Time: about 1 hour

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups dry, uncooked quinoa
3 cups water
2 cups marina sauce (storebought or homemade)
8 ounces shredded cheese (use your favorite cheese blend; lite/reduced fat/vegan cheese okay), divided
2 tablespoons fresh or dried basil, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa with water, and heat uncovered over high heat until mixture comes to a boil.
  2. Turn stove to low or simmer, cover, and cook until all the water has evaporated and quinoa has cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and test a bite.
  3. While quinoa is cooking, preheat oven to 375F and spray a medium/large baking pan with cooking spray; set aside. I used this pan and recommend a 9x9-inch pan for thicker lasagna, or 9x13-inch pan for thinner.
  4. Transfer cooked quinoa to a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add the marinara sauce, about two-thirds of the cheese (reserve remainder to be sprinkled on before baking), 1 tablespoon basil (reserve remainder), olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Turn mixture out into prepared baking dish, smoothing it lightly with a spatula and pressing it down gently.
  7. Evenly sprinkle with reserved cheese and reserved basil.
  8. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until cheese on top is golden and edges are slightly set. Baking times will vary based on the exact dimensions of your baking pan and personal preference. Serve immediately. Extra portion will keep airtight in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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77 Responses to “Lightened Up Cheesy Quinoa Lasagna Bake”

  1. #
    1
    Paula — February 13, 2014 at 3:06 am

    I would love to try this–my quinoa usually goes from saucepan to plate so this is just the change up I need. Fast and easy with leftovers…my kind of recipe!. I made something similar last month with spag. squash instead of quinoa and an egg mixed in to help it set. That beautiful red baking dish really caught my eye too!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — February 13th, 2014 at 4:10 am

      Thanks for noticing the baking dish. I bought it for this recipe :) I mean I knew I’d make other things in it, but I figured it would be perfect for this one. And I remember you told me you had a stash of homemade marinara a few weeks ago and I had just gotten done making this!

      Reply

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    Amanda M — February 13, 2014 at 3:41 am

    Did I miss where the marinara sauce gets mixed in?…

    Reply

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    Colleen @ What's Baking in the Barbershop?! — February 13, 2014 at 4:15 am

    Ooooh, I love this! We incorporate quinoa at least once a week in one of our dinners… This would be great new way to use it!

    Reply

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    Swept Crazy Gals — February 13, 2014 at 4:18 am

    Averie, can you please post something that we dislike so we can stop drooling around here :)
    We will surely try this yummy Quinoa Lasagna!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — February 13th, 2014 at 5:17 am

      You’re so sweet :) LMK if you try it!

      Reply

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    Jessica @ Portuguese Girl Cooks — February 13, 2014 at 4:24 am

    What an awesome spin on quinoa! BTW, I love the red casserole dish!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — February 13th, 2014 at 5:17 am

      Thanks! Marshall’s baby :) Half price of a retail Emile Henry!

      Reply

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    Marie @ Little Kitchie — February 13, 2014 at 4:36 am

    So crazy that you posted this – I just had a wild rice lasagna dish at someone’s house and was thinking, someone should try this with quinoa! Leave it to you to do it beautifully!! Can’t wait to try!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — February 13th, 2014 at 5:17 am

      That wild rice lasagna dish sounds amazing! I grew up in MN where tons of wild rice is grown and grew up with it. Love it so much!

      Reply

  7. #
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    Maryea {happy healthy mama} — February 13, 2014 at 5:49 am

    This recipe is speaking my language! Quick and easy with planned leftovers. Yes, please. And a lightened up lasagna dish is just what I need right now: comfort food-ish but not a million calories. Perfect. :)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — February 13th, 2014 at 1:33 pm

      comfort food-ish but not a million calories <— amen girl.

      Reply

  8. #
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    Heather (Where's the Beach) — February 13, 2014 at 5:56 am

    That sounds really good. I’ve been making an eggplant lasagna w/ tofu ricotta and adding in quinoa. Initially it was to absorb some of the liquid, but turns out, it adds great texture too

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — February 13th, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      Hi Heather! Your eggplant lasagna w/ tofu sounds amazing! Now that’s my kinda lasagna!

      Reply

  9. #
    9
    Ashton — February 13, 2014 at 6:30 am

    I’m a lasagna girl, I admit, but I have to say that this is calling my name!!! It looks incredible!!

    Reply

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    Erin | The Emerging Foodie — February 13, 2014 at 7:02 am

    Oh my goodness, Averie, quinoa lasagna?! This is brilliant. Pinning and definitely trying ASAP. Love it. And beautifully enticing photos!

    Reply

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    Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust — February 13, 2014 at 7:05 am

    Okay I’m totally making this! I think my husband would actually eat it. Love this!!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — February 13th, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      Really?! Okay well if you do try it, LMK!

      Reply

  12. #
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    Jeanette | Jeanette's Healthy Living — February 13, 2014 at 7:07 am

    LOVE this Averie! I’ve been making quinoa lots lately and am always looking for even more ways to incorporate it into our meals.

    Reply

  13. #
    13
    Jamie @ Dishing Out Health — February 13, 2014 at 7:38 am

    I just love this idea! I’m Italian and therefore mildly obsessed with lasagna but only have it once in a blue moon because it’s just so dang heavy! I can’t wait to try this lightened up version. Thanks for inspiration!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — February 13th, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      This is so much lighter and you won’t get that omg lead balloon feeling :)

      Reply

  14. #
    14
    Ceara @ Ceara's Kitchen — February 13, 2014 at 8:21 am

    WOAH! I can’t wait to try this – I love cooking with Quinoa and using it in place of pasta from time to time! Can I just say I love how your photos are always so beautiful and bright!!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — February 13th, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      Thanks for the compliments, Ceara!

      Reply

  15. #
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    Kate@Diethood — February 13, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Gurrrrrl, this is brilliant!! It’s definitely going to be dinner, real soon!

    Reply

  16. #
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    Mary Frances — February 13, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Even though I am an absolute lasagna fanatic, this recipe has me intrigued … and drooling! The quinoa addition sounds so good. And the red dish – very pretty!

    Reply

  17. #
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    Beth @ bethcakes — February 13, 2014 at 11:25 am

    I’m not a vegetarian or vegan, but I would totally eat this. It looks amazing! Just as good, if not better, than regular lasagna. I like lasagna, but I agree, ricotta is not my favorite with it. Plus that red baking dish is gorgeous. :)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — February 13th, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      Thanks for noticing my new pan & glad you can understand the ricotta thing!

      Reply

  18. #
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    Katy — February 13, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    This looks like a great hearty meal and I love that it’s lighter and healthier than most! I’ve never been a big fan of Ricotta either. Cute red pan, too. :)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — February 13th, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      Thanks for noticing my new pan :)

      Reply

  19. #
    19
    Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking — February 13, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Um, WHOA. This is the most mouthwatering use of quinoa I’ve ever seen! Great recipe, Averie! So hearty and healthy.

    Reply

  20. #
    20
    Kevin @ Closet Cooking — February 13, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    This sounds good!

    Reply

  21. #
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    ashley - baker by nature — February 13, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    This is SO creative and amazing, Averie! I would happily skip the “real” version for two slices of this any night ;) xo

    Reply

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    Amy — February 13, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    I stayed away from lasagna for the same reasons! To finally feel full, I had to eat at least 2 servings, but then I felt greasy and gross for the next few days. Not worth it. Your version sounds so much better, especially with the fresh basil! It’s my all-time favorite herb, and I add it to everything I can (well, within reason… it’s my guy’s least favorite and he avoids it at all costs!). And as always, I love your photos. They’re so crisp and clean with bright cheerful colors! Where did you find that red serving dish? It’s so pretty!

    P.S. Pinning this now! :)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — February 13th, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      thanks for pinning! It’s an Emilie Henry than I found half off at Marshall’s. I would never pay retail for that :)

      Reply

      • Amy replied: — February 13th, 2014 at 4:18 pm

        You’re welcome! Oh man, that’s amazing. I love stores like Marshall’s, Ross, and TJ Maxx for bakeware, and so does my wallet!

  23. #
    23
    Alyssa — February 13, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Oh Averie this looks absolutely divine! I have yet to make a quinoa bake, and I’m definitely going to be testing the waters with this one! Thank you so much for sharing, your dishes (and photos) are always mouthwatering :) xo!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — February 13th, 2014 at 7:57 pm

      Can’t believe the queen of quinoa has never done this! Well if you try it, LMK! :)

      Reply

  24. #
    24
    Faith @ Pixie Dust Kitchen — February 13, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    I’ve been looking for new ways to make quinoa, so this is a must! I love that it makes good leftovers as well.

    Reply

  25. #
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    Luv What You Do — February 13, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    I love the idea of a Quinoa Casserole. What a great dish!

    Reply

  26. #
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    Dana — February 13, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    I love lightened up recipes like this…totally perfect for meatless Mondays and non-workout days. And I have a boatload of quinoa in my pantry left from one recipe I bought it for. I haven’t found any other quinoa recipes appropriate for winter yet, but this one fits the bill! I’m not a fan of ricotta, either…it seems to be a trend!

    Reply

  27. #
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    cheri — February 14, 2014 at 6:11 am

    This is so clever, love this!

    Reply

  28. #
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    Lizthechef — February 14, 2014 at 8:15 am

    A beautiful twist on a classic – and red is my favorite color! I love finding a bargain like that.

    Reply

  29. #
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    Anna@CrunchyCreamySweet — February 14, 2014 at 9:10 am

    This is so creative, Averie! Love this light dinner idea!

    Reply

  30. #
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    Jaclyn — February 14, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Lasagna and healthy – I need this in my life!

    Reply

  31. #
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    Jackie {The Beeroness} — February 14, 2014 at 9:43 am

    I LOVE quinoa, this looks like a perfect dinner.
    And your photos are gorgeous lady :)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — February 14th, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      Thanks, Jackie, I appreciate it :)

      Reply

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    sippitysup — February 14, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Now that’s a clever casserole. Happy Valentine’s day. XOGREG

    Reply

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    Abbie @ Needs Salt — February 14, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    This quinoa bakes looks so delicious! I love how it is so much healthier and lighter than real lasagna, and yet it looks so full of flavor and nutrients. Love!
    Pinned.

    Reply

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    Charmaine (The Party DIY) — February 14, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    What a healthy alternative to classic lasagna!

    Reply

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    Laura (Tutti Dolci) — February 14, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Perfect way to satisfy a lasagna craving without having to give up the skinny jeans!

    Reply

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    Paula — February 14, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    What can I say–another wonderful savory dish!! I used a little more of everything so my baking dish was stuffed (planned leftovers)!! I love how this sets up and holds together so well.

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — February 15th, 2014 at 3:41 am

      So glad you liked it, Paula, and good for you for stuffing your baking dish to the max for planned leftovers!

      Reply

  37. #
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    Meredith — February 14, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    Amazing comfort food!

    Reply

  38. #
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    Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. — February 14, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    I am really loving this twist on lasagna!

    Reply

  39. #
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    Helen @ Scrummy Lane — February 14, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    Great idea, especially as I’m looking for lunchbox ideas at the moment. It’s amazing me how many different things you can do with quinoa!

    Reply

  40. #
    40
    Laura Dembowski — February 15, 2014 at 5:44 am

    I love quinoa and this is such a creative way to use it. Love having leftovers too – it makes life so much easier.

    Reply

  41. #
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    Elizabeth @ Confessions of a Baking Queen — February 15, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    I can’t lie I am a big lasagna fan-especially if its a creamy marinara sauce! But this quinoa version looks gorgeous, I have only had a quinoa a few times but seeing you use it like this is making me want quinoa more!!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — February 15th, 2014 at 6:41 pm

      I’d rather eat this kind of lasagna, then I can eat more…you know, cookies :)

      Reply

  42. #
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    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious — February 16, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    I’m LOVING this lightened up twist here, Averie! You know with my upcoming Cabo trip, I have to cut down on some heavy stuff until then!

    Reply

  43. #
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    Valerie — February 17, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Brilliant way to easy up on the heavy. (I don’t like ricotta either, it tastes like soggy bits of packing peanuts.)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — February 17th, 2014 at 6:42 pm

      it tastes like soggy bits of packing peanuts <— and even if I did like it, after that, I never would :) Totally on-point description!!!

      Reply

  44. #
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    Nutmeg Nanny — February 18, 2014 at 9:04 am

    Oh, what a good idea! This looks so satisfying and delicious :)

    Reply

  45. #
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    Toodie — February 18, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    What a great idea for quinoa! Definitely putting this on my menu to try!

    Reply

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    Alison Lewis — February 19, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    looks right up our alley!

    Reply

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    Amanda @ All Day Activewear — March 5, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    This lasagna looks absolutely amazing! I am puting in my recipe que for meatless Fridays this year. I am sharing your recipe in a recipe round up on my blog tomorrow. Thanks again for sharing! :)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — March 5th, 2014 at 9:23 pm

      Thanks in advance for sharing via a linkback and pic (not a full-on recipe reprint) :)

      Reply

  48. #
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    Sarah — April 3, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Tried it with quinoa and it was amazing! Do you think the taste will be the same with couscous??

    Reply

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    Lynn — July 3, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Hi Averie,
    This looks like a great lasagna. Since you’ve already tasted it, do you have any ideas on adding more ingredients like a vegetable that goes with the flavor profile? Just wondering since I’m not sure if it’s gonna be TOO quinoa-y for the husband!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — July 4th, 2014 at 2:09 am

      To make it more like real lasagna, if he’s okay with garlic, onions, mushrooms, I would go that route. Things you’d find in more traditional lasagnas are what I would use. I wouldn’t start tossing in like green beans or peas :)

      Reply

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    Elena — July 4, 2014 at 8:49 am

    I just made this for dinner and it was a hit with the entire family! What I love about it is that it’s also so simple to make but still tastes amazing :)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — July 4th, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Wonderful and thanks for trying the recipe!

      Reply

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