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