Saturday, September 10, 2011

Summertime Lasagna

Lasagna is not something that I make very often.  It is just far too time consuming.  I think I have only made two lasagnas in all of the years that I have been cooking - a Wild Mushroom Lasagna from Gourmet that I made for Thanksgiving a few years back (it was totally fabulous btw so I highly recommend making it) and this "summertime lasagna," which was only a lasagna in that lasagna noodles were layered with veggies and ricotta.  It makes a great summertime version of lasagna because you don't have to bake it in the oven and heat up the whole house.  Plus it just feels so much lighter.  The traditional balance of noodle to filling is turned upside down and this becomes a celebration of fresh ricotta, tomatoes and zucchini than a gooey, cheesy lasagna.  I really liked it and Alex did too.  In the future I might try drizzling the burst cherry tomatoes with a little aged balsamic for a little more acidity and sweetness.  If you are going to make this dish I would recommend picking up some local fresh ricotta (or making your own) because it's so much richer and more flavorful than the ricotta you pick up from the grocery store.  I also recommend using fresh cherry tomatoes (we used a mix of sun golds and traditional red cherry tomatoes) and zucchinis (we used Italian striped zucchini) from the farmers' market.  Since this dish is so simple and lacks the cheese and tomato sauce or bechamel of a baked lasagna, you really need to make sure your individual ingredients are as fresh and delicious as possible.  If you do that you will end up with a really nice dish.  If you use out of season cherry tomatoes and a tub of ricotta from the grocery store, it might end up being a little blah.  So I guess it's a summertime dish in more than name.
Recipe after the jump!

Summertime Lasagna Recipe

1 cup ricotta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
8 lasagne noodles, broken into thirds, cooked according to package instructions and drained
1 minced garlic clove
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1/2 cup torn basil leaves

Combine ricotta, Parmesan and olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Heat oil in skillet over medium high and add garlic and tomatoes. Cook until slightly broken down, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl.

Add zucchini to skillet (with a little more oil if needed). Season with salt and pepper and cook about 5 minutes until tender. Transfer to another bowl.

Scatter a few tomatoes over four plates. Top with one noodle, a spoonful of ricotta mixture, zucchini and more tomatoes. Repeat layering twice, ending with noodle and tomatoes. Drizzle a little more olive oil on top.

Garnish with basil and serve.

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