Lightened Up Vegetable Lasagna Casserole


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If you want traditional lasagna, this isn’t it. There are plenty of vegetables and cheese included, but no noodles.

Sorry to burst your gluten noodle bubble and all.

Vegetable Lasagna Casserole on green plate

Instead of using pasta, I made the crust and base of the lasagna with grated zucchini and carrots, which I baked for about a half hour, until it crisped up and became a big zucchini-carrot-pancake-like noodle in the base of the pan.

I topped the baked vegetable noodle with layers of sour cream, cheese, salsa, more cheese, and baked it until the cheese turned golden, another 35 minutes or so.

The cheesy surface was so pretty that I couldn’t resist sticking a fork into it immediately upon taking the lasagna out of the oven. I didn’t need that skin on the roof of my mouth anyway but that’s what I get for being the queen of rushing things.

Vegetable Lasagna Casserole on green plate

The middle layers are full of corn and beans because the grocery store-brand salsa I used was very heavy on the corn and beans. And yes, I used salsa in lasagna, and the corn and beans provided heartiness, chunkiness, and texture. I need texture in everything, which is why I am not really a fan of traditional lasagna. All those smooth noodles, smooth sauce, and smooth cheese just does nothing for me.

To confuse tradition even more, I used sour cream rather than ricotta because I loathe ricotta. The texture is an absolute no-go for me. I don’t mind cottage cheese, once a decade or so, but ricotta is a never-in-my-lifetime cheese, and since Scott doesn’t like it either, sour cream was an easy choice.

And since this isn’t traditional lasagna and anything goes, I used a cheese medley rather that solely using mozzarella. I’m such a cheese rebel.

Vegetable Lasagna Casserole on green plate

Skylar has never had traditional lasagna and I’m sure now that whenever someone says they had lasagna, she’s going to think it means a pile of beans, corn, and cheese baked on top of a big carrot-zucchini-pancake-noodle.

She’ll be surprised to learn that most people use noodles in their lasagna. There are worse things than bucking noodle traditions.

Vegetable Lasagna Casserole in baking pan

We had lots of Clean Plate Club members after this meal, and after the dinners the next two nights, because the recipe makes planned leftovers as casseroles and pans of lasagna typically do.

I reheated the leftovers in the microwave for dinner the next two nights, but you can freeze them in single-serving portions in plastic food storage bags or food storage containers and reheat them as your own homemade frozen TV dinner on those nights where making something from scratch isn’t going to happen.

Vegetable Lasagna Casserole in green plate

Look at leftovers or freezer meals as saving you time and saving you money because they help you avoid Dialing For Your Dinner, otherwise known as calling for takeout.

However, the recipe does not make a huge huge pan, just a 9-by-9-inch pan, which is perfect for us. A 9-by-13-inch pan turns into the family turning grumpy because they’ve been eating the same thing over and over, over and over, like the Thanksgiving leftovers that never end. Unless of course I use the freeze-and-stash-for-a-few-months trick on them, and if you want to use that trick, feel free to double the recipe and bake it in a 9-by-13-inch pan.

Vegetable Lasagna Casserole in green plate

As it turned out, Scott wouldn’t have minded a huge pan of this. He said it got better each night, which I find is the case with traditional lasagna as the flavors marry as time passes.

He also said he wouldn’t have known there was zucchini or carrots in it, bu he’s also the same man who was convinced I had put chocolate in the Zucchini Banana Bread when there was no chocolate used. Maybe he has a mindblock for zucchini, which is fine by me since I have more to use up.

Vegetable Lasagna Casserole in green plate

I did, however, notice the zucchini-carrot noodle at the base of the lasagna, and although it’s fairly flavor-neutral, it gives extra chewiness and texture in each bite, and was the perfect resting place on which to pile layers of vegetables and cheese.

The family has requested this version of vegetable lasagna again, and anytime I can make an inexpensive, easy, vegan, gluten-free, makes-planned-leftovers kind of dinner, I am more than happy to oblige.

Vegetable Lasagna Casserole in green plate

Lightened Up Vegetable Lasagna Casserole

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Yield: 12

Lightened Up Vegetable Lasagna Casserole

Lightened Up Vegetable Lasagna Casserole

A healthy, flavorful noodle-less vegetarian lasagna that the whole family will love. A ‘pancake’ of shredded zucchini and carrots is used in place of traditional noodles to help keep this lasagna lighter, healthier, and it helps incorporate every more veggies. Recipe may be doubled and baked in a 9-by-13-inch pan,baking times may need to be increased slightly.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes


  • 3 cups coarsely grated zucchini (about 2 medium zucchinis, grated)
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated carrot (about 1 large peeled carrot, grated)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, optional and to taste
  • 1 large egg, beaten (or egg replacer or flax egg)
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream (or Tofutti)
  • 3 1/2 cups loosely packed shredded cheese, divided (cheddar, American, mozzarella, Ricotta, soy, goat, Daiya, or a favorite cheese blend)
  • one 16-ounce jar salsa


  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a 9-by-9-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine zucchini, carrot, salt, pepper, and pour the egg over the vegetables; toss to coat.
  3. Pour mixture into prepared pan, lightly packing it and smoothing it down with a spatula. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until vegetables begin to show signs of slight browning on top and have firmed up. Depending on how watery the vegetables were, how much salt was added, and how much water they release will dictate baking time. The vegetable crust doesn’t have to be well-done or even very hardened, just not watery and juicy.
  4. Spread sour cream over the top of the crust in a smooth even layer.
  5. Sprinkle about 2 cups cheese uniformly over the sour cream.
  6. Drizzle the salsa (I used a very bean and corn-heavy salsa) uniformly over the cheese.
  7. Top with the remaining cheese, about 1 1/2 cups, sprinkled uniformly. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes or until cheese has browned and top is bubbly and golden. Depending on the kinds of salsa and cheese used, and how browned you prefer your food, will dictate baking times and could cause them to vary widely; let your eyes be your guide and watch for browning.
  8. Allow lasagna to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Lasagna can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Leftovers can be served cold or gently reheated.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 221Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 65mgSodium: 686mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 10g

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Do you have a favorite casserole or meal that makes planned leftovers?

I never used to see the beauty in make-ahead meals and leftovers were things that were tolerated and something I ended up with, but never something I set out to make, on purpose.

Even if I didn’t have a family, the “cook once, eat twice” strategy is a good one and leftovers save time and sanity. Knowing I have something in the freezer or refrigerator made and all I have to do is re-heat it, makes the dinner hour so much more sane not having to start from ground zero. If I can rely on planned leftovers a couple times a week, it makes me much more sane.

Feel free to link up your favorite lasagna, casseroles, or easy weeknight dinner recipes.

About the Author

Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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  1. I loved this recipe, so glad I tried some of your savory recipes, but I knew they would be hits after how wonderful the desserts are! I used greek yogurt instead of sour cream and called it Mexican Lasagna – didn’t think lightened up veggie lasagna would be a hit with the husband – he loved it though. The baked yogurt had a really good taste, and I used a bean and corn salsa too, think it wouldn’t be as filling with regular. Thanks! Will definitely make this again now that zucchini are in season! Love healthy veggie filled recipes!!

  2. The picture of the Lighted-up Vegetable Lasagna looks wonderful, however, the ingredients don’t match the picture. I see black beans, corn, and something like green chilies in the picture. Do you have a recipe for the one pictured. If so, please email me the recipe. That would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    1. The salsa I used had black beans, corn, etc. and that’s what you’re seeing. Use a salsa with said ingredients. Enjoy!

  3. That base is such a brilliant idea!!! Perfect meal for fussy toddlers too. Thanks for sharing! Xx

    1. You must have missed this part of the recipe: 1 large egg, beaten (or egg replacer or flax egg) <--- THAT PART. You can use an egg-alternative, thereby keeping the recipe vegan. Enjoy!

  4. Was super excited about this recipe, but it came out as soup. I am sure it was my fault, but I just don’t know what I did wrong. Anyone else experience this?

    1. I’ve never experienced ‘soup’ but possibly your zucchini (or carrots) were super moist and lots of water was released while it baked. In the future, I would squeeze the vegetables in paper towels after grating to try to blot up some moisture and also baking longer – not sure if that would have helped here (probably would have), and I would try that again next time. Sorry it didn’t work perfectly for you!

  5. This was DELICIOUS! And so simple to make, which makes it even better. My only question is regarding the tin foil — while slicing and serving the casserole 10 minutes out of the oven, bits of tin foil were coming out along with each piece. Can you recommend a way to avoid this? Because I’d love to make it a family staple!

    1. You don’t have to use foil but I just find cleanup, overall, so much easier with it. I only use Reynolds nonstick foil. It’s more expensive than other foils by a dollar or so a roll, but it’s so much better quality and doesn’t do that and for an extra buck, well worth it!

      So glad you like the lasagna!

  6. Looks fantastically delicious… Do you recall the brand of salsa? I love the abundance of black beans and corn. Also wondered if it was a mild or spicier salsa.

    1. Thanks! Ralph’s grocery store brand. Medium spicy. There are sooooo many jarred salsas out there with plenty of beans/corn. I’m sure you’ll find a good one!

  7. Tonight I hosted pre-Thanksgiving dinner party with the girls. We are in college so budget is tight and stumbling upon this recipe was perfect for our event! Made it and everyone LOVED it! I even came home with an empty pan! Everyone was curious about the ingredients and I even substituted the sour cream with plain Chobani. Huge hit! Can’t wait to make it again! Thank you!!

    1. I love feedback and comments like this! First, glad you tried it and I am very sensitive to being on a budget and not breaking the bank – I write my recipes with that in mind! And loved that you came home with an empty pan :) And that Chob worked in place of the sour cream. Woot!

  8. Tried it, it’s anti-orthodox lasagna, but the taste was magnificient!! Will do it again.
    Thank you, Averie!

  9. Made it…LOVED it! Super shocked my husband ate it and loved it as well, although, he wouldn’t let me tell him what was in it until afterwards. absolutely will make this again and again and again….

  10. I made this last night and it was awesome! I also love that it’s a “method” more than a recipe. Next time I’m going to use Butternut squash and maybe potatoes in the crust? And ricotta cheese because I do like ricotta. Or cottage cheese. And spaghetti sauce instead of salsa, although I love the kick the salsa gave. And maybe cut back on the cheese a little. And maybe add more black beans. So many options!!! What a great recipe thank you so much!!

    1. So glad that you made it and yes, more of a method than a recipe- that’s a perfect way to say it! There are soooo many ways to go with it and things to do with it! I have a recipe coming on Friday this week that’s sort of a play on it with sweet potatoes but you could use squash on that one I have coming, or on the lasagna you just made. Spagh sauce and add sausage, or pizza sauce and add mozz cheese and pepperoni, or add salsa and beans, I mean there are sooo many options. I have a few other ideas pending with the recipe myself :)

      And LOVE your site! And that you’re in S.D., too!

  11. This looks amazing! And I’m so glad it’s good as leftovers and frozen because that is way to much for me to eat in one sitting. (although, I would try!)

    Please tell me you are making a cookbook!

  12. You know I love seeing pics of your cheezy veggie bake. Now this recipes looks and sounds amazing Averie. Hmm, maybe I can get the toddler to eat some veggies if I make this – just smother ’em in cheese! Obsessed with cheese these days that one is. :)

    1. Omg what are the odds that you saw this post?! I haven’t relinked the ole cheezy veg bake in…ages! The memories of when I made that! I had a toddler and you either had 0 kids or were maybe pregnant with baby #1? Wow, life is just flying by! Hope you and the fam are doing awesome xoxo

  13. Hi Averie, it’s nice to see a savory dish here..:) I love this lasagna, so much flavor, and all my favorite ingredients…

  14. I love that there’s a bunch of carrots in there! Looks soo delish. I wonder if greek yogurt could be subbed for the sour cream??

  15. Oh my bless your little autumn heart! I was just feeling the air get crisper and was wondering how my vegan self would eat enough now that summer is gone. Can’t wait to try them all!!!

  16. I think it’s so awesome that you subbed the noodles for zucchini and carrots! I definitely need to try this!

  17. Perfect timing on this post. I’m back at work part time after mat leave, and I’m trying to figure out dinner with two kids before I increase my hours. My plan is to have Saturday be casserole night and enough for three nights and weds be crockpot night with enough for three nights.

    1. Casserole night and ‘get ahead’ for the week – YES those are key nights! Good luck with the return back!

  18. A casserole without all the gluten guilt–yum! By the way, I tried out your pumpkin granola recipe (with cookie butter flair!) and it was downright scrumdiddlyumptious. Thank you for sharing all of these great recipes!

  19. I’m generally not big on casseroles, but when you can pack so many vegetables into such a delicious, simple package, you could certainly win me over! I love planned leftovers, and that’s why I often make up big vats of soup or chili when I start cooking a batch. That way, I can have plenty of frozen meals ready in an instant- But I’ve still made it all by scratch! :)

    1. I’m not big on them either, ironically, but b/c of the leftovers, ease, low cost, and ‘can’t really screw it up’ factor, they have won me over :)

  20. I make something very similar that Paul asks for all the time because he loves the leftovers. I need to try your version!

  21. I was veg for about 3 three years and one thing I still always order meat free is Lasagna. It’s just so much better full of amazing vegetables that get left out when meat gets introduce. This looks great.

    1. I totally agree – once the meat goes in, it’s like, everyone forgets that veggies exist and they get glossed over!

  22. ha… okay I just have to take a moment to say – Cheesy & Easy TOTALLY cracked me up this afternoon. I feel like that’s something that Ron Burgundy would say about his co-host or something. Ah, thank you for the giggle.

    This casserole looks awesome! Love that it’s gluten-free and the noodle idea with the veggies? Too perfect!

    1. you gotta have fun with this stuff sometimes…that’s what happens when I write or photograph about food all day – I get a little punchy :)

  23. This looks wonderful, agreed on it being a great use for zucchini and a brilliant fall recipe. Beautiful ppics as always! :-)

    1. Thanks, Sue. I love bright colors in photos. I try to balance them and not make them look TOO bright, but I love cheery colors!

  24. I love seeing your savory creations! :0) I am a fan of anything you can bake (cook) once and then eat as leftovers later in the week.

  25. The carrot-zucchini noodle is a great idea. I can imagine how good it tastes. I love the swap of sour cream too. I’m not a fan of the texture of ricotta or cottage cheese either. My mom eats cottage cheese quite frequently and I can never figure out how she likes it.

  26. This looks delicious, Averie! I love your spin on the noodle layers. I am really anxious to try the zucchini and carrots crust. I think my kiddos will love this dish!

    1. It’s a guarantee to be kid-friendly b/c it doesn’t taste like…vegetables. I guess I’m lucky in that mine will eat anything I give her, but I know some parents really struggle with the veggie intake for their kids.

  27. Our love of pumpkin, granola, oatmeal raisin cookies, peanut butter everything, CI recipe, sweet/salty everything, tofu, and running are all shred. But I LOVE ricotta cheese! Can’t believe I found a difference between our tastebuds ;)

    This lasagna looks incredible, Averie. Totally something I could see myself making – that zucchini carrot noodle is RIGHT up my alley. I eat carrots like they’re going out of style. this is weird, but I wonder if pumpkin could be included in this recipe somehow. I love pumpkin with my veggies. shocker, I know!! Skylar would be in shock if she were served a noodle lasagna lol :)

    1. It totally could. You could make a layer of pumpkin spread on top the noodle, or pumpkin-creamcheese/sourcream blend. So many ways to go and funny, my mind ALREADY went there, too! And I can’t believe we found something we don’t both love. Lol

      Saw your cookies blowing up on FG yesterday, too, BTW. NICE!

  28. Such a good idea, I love your veggie pancake base instead of noodles… it just means we get to eat more dessert, right? ;)

  29. This looks warming and wholesome and comforting! Zucchini is always such a lovely sub for noodles!

    A good old standby casserole or “hot dish” – which, like you, is how we ALWAYS termed our casseroles growing up – is Shepherd’s Pie. Basically, I saute onions, garlic, sliced carrots and chopped zucchini, place it in a 9-inch pie dish and top with fluffy mashed potatoes! Then, when there is about 10 minutes left and the potatoes are looking golden and toasted, I sprinkle a bit of feta and mozzarella on top until melted and golden, too! My boys absolutely LOVE this dish with hot, freshly baked sourdough bread and butter and large romaine salad! Oooh…I think I might make this for dinner soon! Been a while…:-)

    1. Hot dish is what we called them in MN where I grew up! It feels weird calling it a casserole just like we said pop, not soda. Your shepard’s pie sounds incredible and Scott would love it too!

  30. more of a Mexican lasagna, then? :) Not always wanting a pasta, I have made lasagna with layers of zucchini strips… so good!

  31. I LOVE the big zucchini-carrot-pancake-like noodle idea! I’m not big on traditional lasagna, but I do have a soft spot for Mexican-style lasagna. Yum.

  32. This looks incredible! My mom always makes lasanga for a couple family dinners every fall…I’m going to ask her to break tradition and make your version instead! I know it will be a hit. :)

  33. I’m not a fan of traditional lasagna noodles so I LOVE this crust idea! I also like the bright color with the carrots in there (reminds me of confetti). We love Mexican fare so the flavors sound perfect. This will make a fun Friday dinner project for me so I’ll be sure to report back. Great recipe (you are very good with savory things too!)

    1. Oh can’t wait for you to try it and give me the verdict! Confetti…yes! That’s what it does look like in person, too! I only make savory because I ‘have to’ – trust me, I’d rather make and blog about sweets, but man cannot live on brownies alone. But woman can.

  34. I tooooootally am in love with all the colors in this gorgeous lasagna. It’s almost too pretty to eat, the operative word being ‘almost.’ :)

    1. I never know how to take pics of food like this…Glad you thought it looked pretty though! Casseroles are a tricky beast!

  35. I love it when you do savory recipes! This looks like something I’d the whole pan of- over a few days of course! Bring the veggies on!!

  36. What a fun take on lasagna! So creative. The melty cheesy look always gets me hungry :). Hope you’re having a good week

  37. This is my kind of meal! I love all the veggies and anything that says casserole is a single girl’s dream. It screams easy and really? Who doesn’t love a good casserole.

    I also LOATHE ricotta. I started getting into cottage cheese a year ago or so when I was experimenting with dairy, but I haven’t had it in a while. Cheese tends to be too heavy a taste for me when it is hot outside. I give mine a little squirt of stevia drops and mix it up; the lemon or orange are good. ;)

    1. I ate cottage cheese in h.s. & then not again til I was pregnant and not again since…there is something about it I do like. It’s really salty though and doesn’t bode well for me but I used to eat it with a swirl of jam in it. That sounds so MN, doesn’t it. But that’s how my mom & grandma ate it.

      And this ‘hot dish’ is so MN, too :)

  38. This is the perfect weeknight meal Averie. My kids would LOVE it. I love that there would be plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day!

    1. Yes! So that you’re not piece-mealing together a lunch out of…nothing. This and that’s. Which I do plenty of. Lol – But it’s nice to have leftovers like this.

  39. This looks fantastic. My niece and nephew would love something like this and being GF my sister could enjoy it too. Definitely passing this along to her. My mom never used ricotta, she used cottage cheese. I had no idea you were “supposed” to use ricotta until I was an adult LOL. And I grew up on casseroles. Can of mushroom soup, some cheese, noodles and whatever veggies. Mix, bake, eat.

    1. That’s such a funny story about you not knowing you were supposed to use ricotta. I wonder what Skylar will think when she finds out what real lasagna is :)

  40. I absolutely love that idea for crust Averie, very creative and very much up my alley. Will need to try grating some veggies like that for maybe a quiche crust!

    1. I thought you may like this! You could add 3 eggs or so and turn that baby into a quiche, very easily! And then if you top it, don’t top it, whatever you do is fine but it would be easy to turn into a quiche, for sure.

  41. I love lasagnas that don’t include noodles….I guess I’ve never been a fan of noodles, so they don’t interest me. But I’m not a huge fan of different cheeses(cream and sour–ick) too. Hmmm. I tend to love tomato sauces though. The more sauce the better. I bet I could modify these ideas. Plus a one dish meal is always nice! Thanks!

  42. What a great way to use of zucchini. I just cleaned out my fridge tonight & realized we have at least a weeks worth more of zucchini. I’m running out of ideas. Except now you’ve kept me going with this recipe. So thank you.

  43. You know there is an Indian dish Pav-Bhaji! Whenever I make that I make sure I make some extra to eat it next day. For the simple reason that it taste all the more delicious later on.

  44. Nope, nothing traditional about that lasagna! But it looks tasty in its own unique way. You don’t like ricotta? OMG. I LOVE it. As in, I’ll eat it plain right out of the tub. And Skylar’s never had traditional lasagna? OMG x2. lol! Noodle + ricotta lasagna is probably our favorite household meal. But then again, growing up in an Italian household, that’s no huge surprise, right?

    1. I know, I wonder what she’ll say when she finds out…Lol Well, then again, it’s Cali and there are so many little kids being raised, raw, vegan, GF, etc so she may not even be in the minority!

      Ricotta…you can have my share :)