This is a dish I’ve been wanting to make for a while and I’m glad I finally got around to it, but man, I could have picked a better day to do it. I made this dish on Friday, another 90º day, and using both my stove and oven probably pushed the temperature in my kitchen to close to 100. Luckily the weather has cooled down a bit for the time being, but I know the heat will likely return soon enough. This is my first summer since I got into cooking that I live in a house with no central air, and I now realize why my mom would avoid cooking on hot nights in our old house.
This recipe was actually inspired by a meal I used to get at the dining hall back in college. In the vegetarian section, they often served a Vegetable Lasagna with a white sauce. I really liked all the vegetables in it, and having a white creamy sauce rather than the traditional tomato sauce I was used to growing up. Most of the vegetables I chose to use in my version are at their peak during the summer and so it seemed like an appropriate summer dish – other than having to cook in this crazy heat!
This Summer Vegetable Lasagna is filled with fresh summer vegetables, such as zucchini, bell peppers, and spinach, and held together with a creamy garlic ricotta cheese mixture. Nixing the meat and loading up on vegetables makes this dish a lighter choice than traditional lasagna, and still tastes delicious the day after so it’s perfect for making head of time. You can use any assortment of vegetables you’d like, and switch up the sauce, too.
Summer Vegetable Lasagna
makes 1 8 x 8 dish, or approximately 6 large /9 small servings
- 5 cups assorted vegetables, sliced into 1/2-inch strips. I used:
- 1 medium yellow onion
- half a red bell pepper and half a yellow pepper
- half a medium eggplant
- half a zucchini
- 4 baby bella mushrooms
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 9 lasagna noodles, cooked to al dente
- 3/4 cup tomato sauce
- 2-3 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1.5 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup scallions, chopped
- spices: a dash of dried basil, red pepper flakes, and salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3/4 cup shredded mozzerella cheese and 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese, mixed together
- Begin by sauteing your vegetables in 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Stir often and cook for about 15 minutes, or until veggies are beginning to get tender. Add in half of the garlic, saute for an additional 2-3 minutes, and remove veggies from heat.
- While veggies are cooking, cook your lasagna noodles to al dente.
- When your vegetables and noodles are done cooking, preheat oven to 375ºF and lightly spray an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. You will probably need to trim the ends of your noodles to fit in the dish.
- Prepare the garlic ricotta mixture by combining ricotta cheese, remaining minced garlic, scallions, and spices. Taste and adjust any spices you find necessary. Stir in beaten egg.
- Spoon 1/4 cup of tomato sauce onto greased baking dish and spread evenly. Layer 3 lasagna noodles on top and spread half of garlic ricotta mixture on top, along with another 1/4 cup of tomato sauce. Next, layer with half of the spinach and then half of the sauteed veggies. Sprinkle with one-third of the cheese. Repeat this process for the next layer.
- Top off with 3 more lasagna noodles, the remaining cheese, and a few vegetables (if desired). Bake for 20 minutes covered in foil, and then another 10 minutes uncovered or until cheese is completely melted. Let sit for a few minutes before serving, and enjoy!