I entertained a few women for lunch a couple of weeks ago. I thought a nice lasagna, along with a tossed salad, would be perfectly satisfying. However, I wanted to keep it on the lighter side, so instead of making my typical chopped meat filling, I substituted sautéed vegetables. Delish for a ladies lunch or weeknight family meal!
1 jar marinara sauce (or make your own)
1 box Barilla lasagna noodles
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
1 bag fresh baby spinach
1 large shallot, diced
About 15 ounces of ricotta cheese, at room temperature
1 bag shredded mozzarella cheese, about 4 cups
Grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
Wash the zucchini and yellow squash; pat dry. Chop into bite-sized pieces (quarter rounds are nice because they lay flat on the pasta). In a medium pan, sautee the shallot in olive oil. Add the zucchini and squash. Sautee until the vegetables begin to soften; add in the spinach and allow to wilt down. The vegetables should be tender, but not soft and mushy. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Boil the water for the lasagna noodles, adding salt and olive oil to the water (the oil will help the noodles from sticking together). Cook until just al dente. You don’t want the pasta to be overcooked or it will get too mushy in the oven. Drain well. In a small pot, heat your marinara sauce.
In a 9 x 13 glass baking dish, ladle some of the marinara sauce on the bottom. Begin layering the lasagna noodles. You can layer them the traditional way, which is by laying them lengthwise down the longest part of the baking dish. I layer them across the width of the dish, allowing them to hang over the sides of the dish, then I fold them all in at the end. However, this is not necessary (and it uses more of the noodles).
- Ladle sauce over the noodles
- Carefully place dollops of ricotta cheese on top of sauce; gently spread with a spoon or spatula
- Spoon some of the vegetable mixture on top
- Scatter a good amount of mozzarella on top, followed by a nice handful of grated cheese
REPEAT THE STEPS ABOVE FOR THREE-FOUR LAYERS (DEPENDING ON HOW THICK YOU LIKE YOUR LASAGNA)
Be sure to reserve enough marinara sauce for the very top layer of the lasagna. In a preheated 400 degree oven, bake the lasagna for about 30 minutes or until you can see the sauce beginning to bubble underneath the noodles. Allow it to sit out for at least one hour before slicing. I prefer to make my lasagna the day before, storing it in the fridge. It’s easy to reheat before I’m ready to serve it. Plus, it gives it a chance to really firm up, making it much easier to cut.
Crafty Tip: This is the perfect dish to make on a Sunday, then store in the fridge and reheat during the week for dinner. It also freezes very well.