This vegetable-focused lasagna is both satisfying and fresh, thanks to some brain-healthy swaps to the old-school version. Crumbled tofu stands in for mozzarella, which, when amped up with plenty of lemon and garlicky sautéed spinach, creates a filling that tastes so much like ricotta you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference. The result: an incredibly light lasagna with plenty of flavor.

You’ll have a little extra marinara; spoon it over leftover lasagna.


Serves 6

1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 medium zucchini 
(14 ounces/400 g), cut in half through the middle then lengthwise into thin strips with a mandoline or sharp knife
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the noodles
10 ounces (285 g) whole-grain, brown rice, or regular lasagna noodles (see Tips)
3 cups (750 g) Spinach Tofu “Ricotta” (recipe follows)
5 cups (1.2 L) marinara sauce, homemade (page 379) or from two 24-ounce (710 ml) jars 
(see Tips)
Fresh basil, torn
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)


1. Set oven racks in the upper- and lower-third positions and preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Stir together the oregano, salt, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl.

3. Place the zucchini in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Drizzle with the oil and flip each piece over to coat. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the oregano spice mix evenly over all the zucchini and bake for about 20 minutes, until soft in the middle and brown on the edges. Set aside eight or nine of the prettiest slices to top the lasagna.

4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles, stirring occasionally, until the edges are soft but the center is still firm and white (about half the time the package recommends). Drain the pasta in a colander, drizzle with some oil, and toss to separate. See Tip.

5. Fill the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch (23 by 33 cm) baking dish with 1½ cups (360 ml) of the marinara. Lay a third of the noodles in a single layer on top of the sauce. Dollop 1 cup (250 g) of “ricotta” over the noodles, spreading with a spoon to cover evenly. Working in the same direction as the noodles, layer a third of the zucchini on top of the ricotta. Repeat two more times each with 1 cup (250 ml) marinara, a third of the noodles, 1 cup (250 g) ricotta, and a third of the zucchini. Pour the remaining 1½ cups (360 ml) sauce over the top followed by the reserved zucchini. Sprinkle with the remaining ½ teaspoon oregano spice mix.

6. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the lasagna is bubbling and the noodles are soft. Let the lasagna sit for about 10 minutes. Just before serving, sprinkle the top with basil and Parmesan, if using. Slice into 4-inch (10 cm) squares to serve.

Tips: Skip the dusting of Parmesan on top to make this recipe entirely dairy-free.
My favorite gluten-free pasta (Jovial brown rice pasta) keeps its shape when baked. After boiling, be sure to lay the pasta out on a flat surface to keep it from curling up, then cover to keep from drying out.

You can streamline this dish by using marinara sauce from a jar and frozen spinach in the ricotta. When purchasing marinara, be sure to choose one that is low in sodium, added sugars, and saturated fats.

Excerpted from The Brain Health Kitchen by Annie Fenn (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2023. Photographs by Alexandra Grablewski.