Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer Lasagna and Menu

Happy Birthday, Open Fridge!  Today marks the One Year Anniversary of my first post.  My goodness, how time flies.  I feel like I've learned a lot in the last year and hope that some of those smarts have been passed on--at the very least, a bit of my photography has improved!  I've really enjoyed keeping record of things that have come out of my kitchen and have been so touched and humbled by your kind and encouraging feedback.  Thank you. Thank you. 

Today's recipe is a reminder of how much I love this time of year.  It never ceases to make me happy thinking of (and using!) the abundance of produce available in the summer. Confession, here's how much of a weirdo I am: it's only July, and I am already shuddering to think of every day bringing us closer to day light savings time...seriously, Lauren, stop and just enjoy the moment, will you?  This delicate lasagna is rife with the flavors of summer--fresh tomatoes, zucchini, basil and just the thing to bring me back to reality that I can currently enjoy abundant sunshine and freshly-picked vegetables that have not trotted the globe.  Make it as a main dish or as a starring player in the menu suggested below and then go outside and enjoy those balmy evenings (hopefully, more mosquito-free than we seem to be experiencing these days!)!

Summer Lasagna
Grilled Italian Sausages (I used Chicken Basil flavored and they were yummy!)
Green Salad with Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette (try it with Toasted Walnut Oil!)
and Homemade Croutons
Angel Food Cake with Strawberries and Whipped Cream (or peach cobbler would be fantastic right now)

Summer Lasagna
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup basil pesto
salt and pepper to taste
9 lasagna noodles, cooked "al dente" to package directions
3-4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 small zucchini
1 small yellow (crookneck or zucchini) squash
4 garlic cloves, minced and divided
1-2 pints grape tomatoes, halved

fresh torn basil leaves for garnish

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions.  Drain and set aside. 
While noodles are cooking, make ricotta mixture.  In a small bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese and pesto.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, set aside.  
Thinly slice zucchini and yellow squash.  Place 1/3 of minced garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saute pan.  Over medium high heat, stir frequently until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Add half of zucchini and squash slices, season with salt and pepper and saute just until tender, 3-5 minutes.  Remove from pan, place in small bowl and repeat with remaining half of squash slices.  After zucchini has been sauteed, add remaining garlic, olive oil and tomatoes to pan.  Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until tomatoes begin to break down.  Remove from heat and set aside.

To assemble: Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Lay down 3 lasagna noodles.  Top with a layer of zucchini (using about 1/3).  Spread a layer of half of the ricotta mixture over top (you can also just place small dollops evenly over surface).  Top with a layer of tomato mixture (about 1/3 of the tomatoes).  Repeat with a second layer.  Top with lasagna noodles, remaining zucchini and tomatoes.  Sprinkle with reserved 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and bake, just until heated through--20-30 minutes.  Garnish with fresh basil leaves, slice into pieces and serve.

Variation: The original recipe does not bake the lasagna.  Each noodle is cut into thirds and the lasagna is assembled on each individual plate.  This makes for a gorgeous presentation and will avoid heating up your kitchen from turning on the oven.  The lasagna will be served much closer to room temperature (which is still a delicious thing!).

Adapted from: Martha Stewarts' No Bake Summer Lasagna 


  1. Happy Birthday, Open Fridge indeed! Hooray! LOVE this blog and what it means to my cooking, hospitality efforts, and feeding my family quality, nutritious food!

    ps. LOVE the menu idea...I am quite sure my efforts would not turn out so delicious as yours always do, but I shall try!! THANK YOU for the great ideas!!!

    love you!

  2. Happy Birthday to the Open Fridge! I love cooking and enjoy reading other recipes. So I have enjoyed this past year of your blog! Keep it up! And THANK YOU for giving us great recipes.

  3. no bake...that is fantastic (in arizona in the summer)! i think i'll have to give this one a whirl!

  4. Thank you, my sweet friends! Love you much.