Sunday, July 29, 2012

Lasagna: Revamped for Summer

One normally thinks of lasagna as a warm, hearty winter meal. Usually made with a tomato sauce, loaded with meat, cheese, a good lasagna can warm you even on the coldest nights. I decided to throw this common expectation of lasagna on its head, and make a fresh summer lasagna, featuring veggies and herbs associated with the warm summertime.

I picked up some squash, ripe tomatoes, mushrooms, peas, onions, and spinach and prepped a fresh lasagna with a bright basil pesto sauce that was rich and flavorful, but not too heavy.

I carmelized the onions and mushrooms, roasted the squash, steamed the peas, and sauteed the spinach so they would be ready to layer in the lasagna. For the pesto sauce, I used basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan, and lemon to make a standard pesto, and added in some light cream to thin the sauce and give it a nice creaminess. I pureed all the ingredients of the sauce and set it aside for the lasagna building.

Once all of the veggies were prepared, I architected the dish, starting with a layer of pesto sauce on the bottom of the pan.

I then added a layer of lasagna sheets, followed by some fresh ricotta. Then came the veggies, with my roasted, sliced squash acting as another layer of pasta.

I then added onions, mushrooms, spinach and peas to the mix, followed by another coating of pesto sauce.

I repeated this once, covered the lasagna with a final layer of pasta sheets (3 layers of pasta, 2 of the veggies), a little more pesto sauce, and then the fresh tomato slices with some parmesan, salt and pepper. I then baked it until golden, about 30 minutes, served and enjoyed this summery take on lasagna.

(Made for a 9"x13" baking dish)
9 lasagna sheets
1 zucchini sliced lengthwise
1 summer squash sliced lengthwise
6 mushrooms sliced
2 medium yellow onions sliced
1 bag spinach
1 cup english peas, shelled
2 ripe tomatoes sliced
2/3 cup ricotta
4 tablespoons shredded parmesan
1-2 cups packed basil
3-4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1 juiced lemon
1/4 cup light cream
Salt and pepper
Olive Oil

To Cook:

  1. Bring salted water to a boil in a big pot and cook lasagna until al dente (8 minutes for dry, 2 minutes for fresh)
  2. Let lasagna sheets cool - keep wet with a little water or olive oil so they don't stick together and set aside
  3. Rub squash and zucchini with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 375 for 20 minutes
  4. Sautee onions and mushrooms in a large heavy bottom pan until carmelized
  5. Bring a quarter inch of water to a boil and add peas for 2-3 minutes
  6. Sautee spinach in a large pan with olive oil until wilted
  7. Mix basil, garlic, pine nuts, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of parmesan in a blender until smooth, adding oil to thin the sauce
  8. Add cream and blend until smooth and thoroughly mixed
  9. Spread pesto sauce on bottom of the lasagna pan
  10. Layer pasta, then spoon ricotta, followed by the squash, then onions, mushrooms, spinach and peas, then another layer of pesto sauce
  11. Repeat once and top with the 3rd layer of pasta, top with a little more sauce, tomato slices, and remaining parmesan, and bake for 30 minutes at 375 until top is golden
  12. Let cool for 5-10 minutes, slice and serve!

1 comment:

Ty's Kitchen said...

Hey So!
Glad you reached out, let's definitely get together in your hood! Also, let me know how the lasagna turns out.

See you soon!