This melty lasagna is packed with flavor from roasted summer squash, fresh basil, oregano, spinach and the sweetest garden tomatoes. Plus, it's a perfect way to use up a whole lot of vegetables in one fell swoop.
Between our CSA and our garden, it's kind of hectic around here. Green beans, cherry tomatoes, kale, chard and delicata squash just keep on coming and we haven't even started to think about harvesting our rather large sweet potato patch yet (more on why we planted so many sweet potatoes). And every other week brings another big load of vegetables from the farm across the river, too. I know I'll miss it once everything is withered and brown but, for now, trying to keep up is somewhat stressful.
I find myself fantasizing about making leisurely trips to the grocery store to pick out the ingredients for something I've chosen to make just because it caught my fancy, not because I've got to do something with another towering load of kale from the garden or because I have to use up five pounds of beets to make room in the crispers before our next CSA pick up.
But since this is real life, I want to share this truly delicious way to use a bunch of summer squash, a boatload of sungold cherry tomatoes and lots of fresh basil, oregano and spinach. The other name I was kicking around for this glorious concoction was "Kitchen Sink Lasagna" but in the end, I decided that "harvest" sounded more appetizing. And it really is very appetizing.
I won't lie to you and tell you that this is a quick, easy meal. But it is incredibly tasty and you can make enough for several meals and potentially even freeze some for later. I froze a bunch of the tomato sauce I made, too - so much easier than canning!
Lasagna is all about layering and the building blocks that make this harvest version so tasty are roasted summer squash with garlic and herbs, sauteed spinach and a fresh, herb-spiked tomato sauce. That said, nothing is set in stone and you do not have to use those particular ingredients or make your own sauce from scratch. I certainly would not think less of you for using a jar of sauce and it would speed up the process considerably.
But since I had to use up all those vegetables, this is what I did. First the prep - I washed the beautiful basil, oregano, tomatoes, summer squash and spinach. Then I chopped up a mountain of onions and garlic.
Then I got the sauce started since it needs time to simmer. I sauteed lots of onion and garlic then added a big bowl full of sungolds and a few big red tomatoes from the garden, crushed it none too gently with a potato masher, added salt and pepper and a teaspoon of sugar, tossed in some chopped basil and oregano and let it simmer. Then I attacked it with my immersion blender until it was smooth. Yes, I left the skins in there. I am lazy and they're good for you. The end result was a bubbling pot of brilliantly colored sauce that reminded me of the surface of an active volcano crater if you were to sprinkle some fresh herbs over the magma. I always carry fresh herbs when I'm going to view a volcano...
Then I turned my attention to the summer squash. Preheated the oven to 400, got out my knife and sliced them up. I mounded them on a baking sheet, drizzled a healthy amount of olive oil over them, threw a handful of chopped basil and oregano and dosed them liberally with sea salt and black pepper. Then I mixed it all around with my hands until everything seemed to be coated and put them in to roast. About 15 minutes later they were done and I set them aside.
While the squash cooled and the sauce simmered, I sauteed the spinach with some garlic, salt and pepper until it was soft - two to three minutes. Then I stirred it into the ricotta cheese and added a bit more salt and pepper and a little bit of ground nutmeg.
Somewhere in there, I'd put a big pot of water on to boil for the lasagna noodles. I used these organic ones from bionaturae - they're quite tasty. The kids actually enjoyed eating them plain and they are nice and strong which is helpful when you've forgotten to stir the noodles after dumping them in and have to pry them apart after draining them.
Then it was time to cut the cheese, so to speak :) I made short work of grating a small mountain of Parmesan and slicing the fresh mozzarella as thinly as possible. It is absolutely fine to use pre-grated cheese, by the way. I probably would have done so but didn't have any at the time.
Building time. I put down a layer of my lovely sauce, then a layer of noodles followed by ricotta cheese and spinach and another layer of roasted summer squash and topped it with mozzarella. Then I repeated it as many times as my ingredients allowed for.
I put it in the oven at 375 for a mere 20 minutes and then we and our good friends sat down to a heavenly meal of harvest lasagna, green salad and garlic bread. Le yum. And that was just the first time. Lasagna is one of those dishes that gets tastier with a little time so the leftovers are even better.
Makes one pan, serves 6-8
Ingredients (use organic whenever possible)
*4 small to medium summer squash, washed, ends removed and thinly sliced the long way
* 1 quart tomato sauce (if you want to make your own and are not sure how to proceed, try this recipe)
* 1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
* 4 large cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
* 2 1/2 cups shredded or thinly sliced organic whole milk mozzarella cheese
* 15 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
* 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* 4-5 cups fresh spinach, washed and dried (one or two large bunches' worth)
* 1 large bunch fresh basil leaves, washed, dried and chopped
* 1 bunch fresh oregano leaves, washed, dried and chopped
* 1 package lasagna noodles (12 oz)
* 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
* Sea salt and black pepper to taste
* Olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Mound the sliced summer squash in the center of a heavy baking sheet or dish, add a handful of the chopped fresh herbs and roughly a third of the garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil (2 Tbsps or so) and toss well until all the slices are evenly coated. Roast for 10-15 minutes, checking once or twice and turning things, if needed, to ensure even cooking. You want to roast them until the edges have browned but before the slices get crispy. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool and turn the oven down to 375 degrees.
2. Bring a large pot of water to boil for the lasagna noodles and cook according to the instructions on the package. I recommend only cooking until al dente as they will absorb a lot of liquid from the tomato sauce during baking. Rinse and drain the noodles and set aside until it's time to start layering.
3. Heat 2 Tbsps olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and saute the onion and the rest of the garlic until the garlic is fragrant and the onion is translucent. Add the spinach and cook it for another two or three minutes, stirring often, until the spinach is wilted and dark green. Combine the spinach mixture with the ricotta cheese, the nutmeg and more salt and pepper and stir well to combine - you can either do this in a medium-sized bowl or right in the frying pan (one less dish to wash.)
4. Build the lasagna. In a 9 x 12" lasagna pan, start by spreading a layer of tomato sauce, then put down a layer of noodles, overlapping the ends slightly to cover the entire base. Add a layer of the ricotta-spinach mixture then a layer of roasted squash, more sauce and top with mozzarella cheese and some grated Parmesan. Repeat as many times as your ingredients and your pan permit. Top with whatever mozzarella and Parmesan you have left and cover tightly with tin foil.
5. Bake at 375 for roughly 15 minutes or until you can see that it's all heated through and melty (a glass pan works best for this kind of lasagna voyeurism) then remove the tinfoil and bake for another few minutes to brown the top. You can also broil it briefly (but don't walk away! a broiler is a powerful thing) to achieve the browning more quickly. When you're satisfied with the level of melty-ness and browning, remove from the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving so no one burns their tongue. As I've mentioned, it will likely taste even better the next day so you can definitely make this ahead and keep it in the fridge until it's go time. Either way, you are sure to enjoy the leftovers.
You might also like:
- Rustic Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic & Herbs
- Butternut Squash Ravioli with Browned Butter, Sage & Pine Nuts
- Pumpkin Mac and Cheese