February 1st, 2011

White Bean Lasagna


Think that thick lush-looking white sauce cascading over the lasagna stack is a heavy cream-based bechamel—rich beyond words?

Think again.

The sauce here doesn’t have a speck of dairy, let alone the high butterfat favorite. Nor does it use any soy or tofu based products to mimic cream or cheese.

It’s cannellini beans!


And, not just any cannellinis. These are Rancho Gordo’s pride–great, fat white runner beans, that swell up to mammoth proportions when soaked, with meaty interiors that become creamy-dreamy when pureed.


This recipe experiment was prompted by Bill’s simultaneous love and intolerance of All Things Dairy. It might be better to say that, while this vegetarian loves it, it doesn’t always love him in return.

And, while I have no interest in omitting cheeses and milk from our diet, I have been considering different ways to achieve that creamy satisfaction in cooking—without him resorting to a carton of Lactaid.


Doubtless you have made Tuscan White Bean Dip—that garlicky puree we like to serve alongside a bowl of pita chips, or spread across crisp crostinis. Our White Bean Sauce is made in similar fashion—just thinner.

It’s like you’re making a vegetarian White Bean Soup, vigorously seasoned with garlic, onion, bay leaf, thyme, that you puree, beans and broth, until the melange becomes velvet—a smooth and pourable sauce.


Like all lasagnas, it’s really more a matter of creating all your layers that takes the time. Assembling them goes quickly.

I decided that sauteed Swiss Chard would make a terrific lasagna layer–seasonal, and compatible with the sauce. Other winter greens would be good too. I recommend Lacinato, or Black Kale.

I had an opened jar of sundried tomatoes packed in oil, shoved into the back of my fridge. In keeping with my intent to use good things before they go bad, I sprinkled these over the chard in my layering process. They added a sweet, sunny note to the dish.

I admit, this is not the most eye-appealing lasagna. When it bakes, there’s a slight crustiness to the top layer of white bean sauce. Not pretty–but savory.

I had some extra sauce left after the layering. You can warm it, and pour a little over your servings. It softened the look, and added more of the cannellini goodness.

I served this at our potluck—an icy night where 17 potluckers braved the slickened streets for good food. We were surprised that anyone came! But those who did loved the no-cheese lasagna. It had rich creamy mouthfeel, robust greens, a hint of heat and sweet.

Bill did not miss the cream, not one bit.



White Bean Sauce
2 cups Cannellini Beans, soaked overnight and rinsed
Olive Oil
6 cloves of Garlic, chopped
1 large Onion, sliced
Black Pepper
Red Pepper Flakes
Bay Leaf

In a deep saucepan on medium heat, warm the olive oil. Saute garlic and onions for five minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Add soaked and rinsed cannellinis. Stir until the beans are coated with the olive oil.

Cover beans with water. Add a couple of bay leaves, a few pinches of thyme, and a shake of red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil.

Simmer, covered, for two hours. Check periodically and give the beans a stir.
Test for bean doneness-the exterior will remain intact, but will give way to a creamy interior.

When beans are tender, remove from heat. Discard bay leaves.

Puree beans and broths, a few cups at a time, in the food processor. (Or,use a portable immersion blender if you like) Taste for seasoning and adjust.

Sauce should be smooth and pourable—ready to go! But, this can be made in advance, and refrigerated until you are assembling the lasagna.

Swiss Chard Layer
2-3 T. Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
Red Pepper Flakes
1 bundle Swiss Chard, cleaned, stems removed and diced, leaves coarsely chopped

Heat olive oil in a skillet and saute onions, garlic, and chard stems. Season with salt and a dash of red pepper flakes, and cook for about 9 minutes. Stir in leaves, and cook until they are collapsed. Add 1/2 cup water to facilitate the “collapsing” process–and allow the water to cook away. Remove from heat, and allow to cool.

1 Box dried Lasagna, cooked al dente, drained, cooled and oiled

1 cup Sundried Tomatoes packed in oil, drained

1 9″x13″ casserole/lasagna baking pan, coated with olive oil


Preheat oven to 350ยบ

Spoon a layer of the white bean sauce on the bottom of the pan. Top with lasagna noodles. Spread sauteed chard over the pasta, dot with sundried tomatoes, and place pasta layer over that. Repeat the layering, until the pan is filled.

Be sure that you finish with the white bean sauce, dotted with sundried tomatoes.

Also, reserve about a cup of the white bean sauce to spoon over the cooked lasagna squares when you serve them. Garnish, too, if you like, with additional sundried tomato pieces.

Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and finish baking for another 10 minutes. You want the casserole to be heated thoroughly. Since all the elements are already cooked, now you are cooking them all together.

Posted in Casseroles, Pastas, Recipes, Rice/Other Grains/Legumes, Vegan

25 Responses to “White Bean Lasagna”
  1. nancy Says:

    Hi Nancy,
    What a great idea to use a white bean sauce in place of the cheese! I’ll have to try this. I’ve heard Rancho Gordo beans are incredible – did you order them online?

  2. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hey Nancy–Yes, you can order them online—I should have posted a link to their site.
    You’ll be amazed at the gorgeous varieties they offer. All are DELISH!! They ship promptly, too.


  3. Kath Says:

    You are a genius Nancy, that looks so very delicious. I will give it a try next time I make a lasagne and see what Mr OC’s thoughts are on the matter.

  4. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    This is quite an exciting recipe! I love Rancho Gordo, and am in fact cooking with some of their beans right now. This lasagna looks so good and healthy, and I trust the beans made the lasagna so creamy and filling.

  5. Juliana Says:

    Nancy, I love the idea of using white bean as a sauce…so creamy and tasty…I will definitely keep this in mind :-)

  6. Tammy Says:

    You know, when I was sick, someone made this for me but… she kept the beans whole instead of blending them into a sauce and it was really odd. I think this sounds much better.

  7. veggietestkitchen Says:

    this lasagna looks fantastic. i love your unique spin on the classic. i hate red sauce, so this is right up my alley. thanks for the recipe. i really love your aesthetic and your food tastes. i’m so happy for finding your website!!

  8. Michele Napoli Says:

    What a delicious-looking dish, especially for an icy night. We love all things beans here; and the combination of garlicky white beans, swiss chard and sundried tomatoes is brilliant.

  9. Lindsay Says:

    This made my day! Thank you!

  10. Maggie Says:

    Hey Nance, this does look delish! I will vouch for the Rancho Gordo beans – the ones that you’ve given me have been exceptional! This is the kind of dish we need right now – lighter!!

  11. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Tammy-when I first thought of the idea, I looked around online–and the other white bean lasagnas were exactly as you describe—whole beans layered in the pasta. That just didn’t appeal to me, either.

    Veggietestkitchen–glad this suited your sensibilities–and welcome to
    Good Food Matters

    Lindsay–you are welcome, thanks for stopping by

    Mag—a big AMEN to lighter dishes, whew!

    Kath-I’d be very curious about Mr OC’s thoughts!

    Michele-hope you all are faring well these NJ icy nights

  12. Faith Says:

    That sauce definitely looks thick and luscious! Great idea to use beans this way…all the flavor, plus added health benefits!

  13. FOODESSA Says:

    I do love experimenting with legumes…especially making a luscious sauce like this one ;o)

    The lasagna looks very appealing Nancy…get me a chair at your table please ;o)

    Have a great week and flavourful wishes,

  14. Fluffy Says:

    vegan!! boy is this great
    fluffy never suspected that there was no dairy in the deal

  15. Sruthi @ Exercise, Food & Beyond Says:

    Wow this look so so yummy. Would definitely try to make it, hope it turns out as good as yours. I am not good at making Italian food.

  16. mark Says:

    If you decided to do this at the last hour, here is a trick for getting your beans soaked in an hour. 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, 1/2 lb Beans, 2 qt water. Combine water and salt in Dutch oven, add beans and bring to boil. Cover and remove from heat. let rest for an hour, the beans should be ready to work with.

  17. Anna Johnston Says:

    I love this idea Nancy, it certainly looks great & although I’m sure it tasted a bit different, it would have been a fantastic taste treat too :)

  18. Katie@Cozydelicious Says:

    This lasagna looks delish! I wonder if I could fool my bean-hating husband into eating this yummy dish!

  19. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Katie, I think that your bean-hating husband would be very surprised!

  20. Barbara Says:

    Really interesting idea, Nancy! Never would have dreamed the sauce was cannellini beans. Nice solution for your hubby! I order from Rancho Gordo all the time…they have wonderful products.

  21. gg Says:

    My family will be loving this dish come the weekend….thank you! Looking forward to checking out Ranch Gordo. cheers

  22. My Little Expat Kitchen Says:

    This is an incredible idea Nancy. I love it! I make white beans, either small or the giant Greek ones, often. We Greeks love them, so this is another fabulous idea that utilizes them. Thanks Nancy!

  23. Madeleine Says:

    You are so creative and smart. I love this idea!

  24. foodonfifth.com, Teresa Blackburn Says:

    Yum and yum again. T

  25. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    Yum yum and yum. Great use of the cannellini beans.

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