My zucchini tofu lasagna turned out unexpectedly amazing, which is why it’s a zucchini lasagna with a twist. Noodle-less lasagna is a great concept in theory but when put into practice with zucchini as a substitute, you may find your favourite Italian cuisine drowning in water.
I was inspired by my sister for this vegetarian lasagna. Her version of zucchini lasagna, while really good flavour-wise, is always super watery. This recipe not only fixes that unwanted flaw, but we actually enjoy the taste and texture just as much as lasagna made with real noodles. What a bonus when you’re trying to avoid carbs!
What Causes Watery Lasagna?
Substituting vegetables for lasagna noodles is tricky business because items like zucchini and mushrooms are 90% water. Unless that water is reduced, you will end up with a soggy meal. So what can help?
How Do You Get the Water out of Zucchini Slices?
To make zucchini lasagna that isn’t water logged:
- Use a mandolin to cut the zucchini slices a consistent thickness. Consistency is important to ensure even cooking and encourage evaporation of excess water.
- Salt the zucchini and wait 15 minutes.
- Pat zucchini dry with paper towels.
- Cook mushrooms starting in a cold pan without oil so they release their moisture.
- Cook zucchini in a pan with oil over med-high heat for 3 min. a side. Do the same with the tofu slices.
- The layers of extra firm tofu help absorb additional moisture. Slice them thin.
- Let lasagna cool a little to set before serving or refrigerate overnight
The Secret to Delicious Zucchini Tofu Lasagna
So what makes this zucchini lasagna recipe so successful? Layers of extra firm tofu! Admittedly, this is something I stumbled on by accident. That’s because I only had two zucchinis for this recipe and no ricotta for filling so had to improvise.
Cut the tofu thin, similar to the zucchini layers and pan fry them on both sides to get a sear. This shows how brown you want to get it.
Be sure to get the same sear on the zucchini. The more water that can evaporate, the less watery the lasagna!
Vegan Zucchini Lasagna
What Can I substitute for Cheese in My Lasagna?
You can also make this dish vegan by leaving out the cheese and making substitutions. For a while I was dairy free, so I was using Earth Island Dairy Free Cheddar Shreds in other dishes. I don’t think it will brown (I could be wrong about that), but it should give you a cheesy texture on top.
Because the zucchini is cut thin, this zucchini tofu lasagna recipe is noodle-like. To achieve that, a mandolin works wonders. We always buy the best rated kitchen equipment because we only want to buy it once. This OXO Good Grips V-blade Mandolin does not disappoint. To cut our zucchini, we set it to slice 3/16″. Alway use the guard to protect your fingers!
We cut the tofu with a sharp kitchen knife to a comparable thickness.
Frozen cubes are a favourite flavour booster. We like them because there’s no spoilage like with fresh herbs.
Another favourite flavour booster is fire roasted red peppers. Of course we love the jar for convenience but you can also make these yourself. Next time you make pasta, pop some into your tomato sauce; they really make a difference!
How Does Your Lasagna Stack Up?
Another trick to great lasagna is stacking each layer at right angles to the layer before. So for instance, if the zucchini is lengthwise in the dish on the first layer like this…
… turn the next layer like this. Same goes for the tofu; don’t stack it in the same direction as the zucchini: turn it 90 degrees as shown below.
The layers look so pretty from the side of the glass dish!
A final layer of shredded cheese seals the deal.
It doesn’t take long before the top is brown and bubbly!
I don’t think I’ll ever make zucchini lasagna without tofu. Our zucchini tofu lasagna recipe is definitely a keeper and I think if you try it, you’ll agree!
Funnily enough, roasted eggplant lasagna is always my birthday dinner request. However, this might just become my NEW birthday dinner.
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Zucchini Tofu Lasagna
- Pyrex baking dish (we used a 2 qt - 8" x 8" x 2" dish)
- Teflon pans
- 2 zucchini, peeled
- 1/2 cup Celebrity crumbled goat’s milk cheese 113 g
- 3 tsp chopped basil or 3 frozen Toppits cubes
- 1 frozen Toppits chili pepper cube
- 1 pint mushrooms sliced
- Grape seed oil
- 1/2 large onion or 1 med onion
- 1/2 jar 880 ml Simply Natural pasta sauce (tomato basil)
- 1 can 400 g organic diced tomatoes
- 4 Fino fire roasted red peppers chopped (720 ml jar)
- 1 14 oz 397 g package of extra firm organic tofu (Nasoya), sliced thin
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese for top
- Peel and slice zucchini 3/16” thick on a mandolin. Mix the pasta sauce with the can of diced tomatoes. Defrost the basil and pepper cubes and add to the tomato sauce mixture.
- Set sliced zucchini in a dish and sprinkle liberally with salt between layers. Let sit for at least 15 minutes. Drain water and pat slices dry with paper towels.
- In the meantime, cut thin pieces of extra firm tofu. Start mushrooms in a cold teflon pan over medium heat with no oil. Once they release their moisture and are cooked, remove to a plate. Add a tablespoon of oil to pan and cook onions over medium heat until softened. Remove to same bowl as mushrooms and mix.
- Cook zucchini in a medium-high pan with oil for 2-3 minutes a side until browned. Also cook the tofu in the same manner in another pan. Remove to a plate ready to assemble.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Assemble in a 2 quart dish (8" x 8" x 2"). Add a layer of sauce at the bottom of the dish. Add zucchini slices lengthwise in the dish to cover the bottom. Stack on a layer of tofu at right angles to the zucchini as shown. Add a layer of sauce, then half the mushroom/onions and fire roasted red pepper. Sprinkle on half the goat cheese.
- For the next layer of zucchini, lay the slices width-wise. Then stack another layer of tofu in the opposite direction. Stacking in this manner at right angles to the previous layer will allow the lasagna to slice nicely without falling apart. Add one last layer of the mushroom/onions, fire roasted pepper and goat cheese.
- Add a final layer of shredded cheese on top.
- Bake for 40 minutes until top is melted, browned and bubbly. Let cool slightly before slicing.