Well I’m back after a small sabbatical from the world of blogging and have plenty of yummy summer recipes to share with you. I was having trouble deciding what to share with you first and finally settled on sharing my recipe for Grilled Veggie Lasagna since it uses so many of the wonderful fresh summertime veggies that are picking now.
This will seem like a lot of veggies and you will probably start thinking “how will all this fit into my pan.” But don’t worry, once you grill it all and the water evaporates, it all scales down to size. Of course I usually do always have my lasagna pan end up a little over-full and it leaks out but I’ve learned to toss a cookie sheet into the oven under it in case of leaks.
This dish does take some time to prepare but it is so worth it. I did it in stages. I grilled in the morning, then cut everything up later on, finally made the pasta and then assembled. Finally I had a dish of lasagna in the oven over the course of the entire day but since I spaced everything out, it didn’t seem to take up so much time.
I used eggplants, zucchini, yellow squash, red bell peppers, and spinach in my recipe but you can switch up the veggies to your favorites, although I don’t recommend changing out the bell peppers because in roasted form they helped to bring the dish together. I also used canned tomatoes in this but if you have plenty of extra wonderfully juicy summer tomatoes, you might want to consider adding those instead. Here in Colorado, fresh tomatoes are a luxury from my plants so I tend to eat them uncooked.
I also made fresh pasta using my favorite pasta recipe from Fabio Viviani. It’s such a simple Italian egg pasta recipe that just wows every time and can be adapted to fit any pasta dish that I’m making. You can add fresh or dried herbs, cheeses, or just keep it simple as I did for the Grilled Veggie Lasagna. I just added lots of fresh ground black pepper to it. If you don’t have time, get lasagna noodles and cook them according to package directions but I must say the fresh pasta adds so much more to the dish.
You can also play with the cheese mixtures in this. I uses whole milk ricotta, pecorino romano, mozzarella and goat cheese. I do recommend keeping the goat cheese and of course the mozzarella (how could you not have mozzarella in lasagna?! That’s just blasphemy!). The goat cheese added a wonderful tang to the dish that worked well to help create balance. In fact, next time I make it, I’m adding it to all the layers instead of just the top. But the whole-milk ricotta can be substituted for reduced fat or even cottage cheese and the pecorino romano can be switched with Parmesan or Romano or your favorite hard cheese. Don’t ever be afraid to experiment in cooking, it’s what it’s all about.
So now that I’ve hopefully got you mouth-watering at the idea of this yummy, spicy and flavorful Grilled Veggie Lasagna, it’s now time to share the recipe with you. Let your tastes buds celebrate and enjoy the tastes of summer and ooey gooey cheeses with pasta and a crusty bread (I served mine with homemade Rosemary Bread).
Grilled Veggie Lasagna
Fresh or Ready-Made Pasta
1 medium-size yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (adjust for your tastes)
3 large eggplant, sliced 1/2″ thick
3 zucchini (about 8″ long), sliced 1/2″ thick
3 medium-sized yellow squash, sliced 1/2″ thick
5 red bell peppers (or 12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut up)
28 oz. canned diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1 large bunch fresh spinach, washed and shredded
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
16 oz. whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1 cup pecorino romano
20 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded
3 oz. goat cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil: 1 Tbsp for sautéing onions and enough to brush on veggies for grilling
Slice the eggplant, zucchini and squash and then lightly coat with olive oil. Heat your grill to medium-hot and place the oiled veggies on the grate and close the lid. Cook until grill marks appear on the side (around 4 to 5 minutes) and then flip and repeat. Work in batches until done. To do the red peppers: place the peppers on the grill, un-oiled, and turn them as the skin blackens. Once the peppers are blackened on all sides, remove from the grill and place in a plastic bag for about half an hour. This allows the peppers to sweat for easy removal of the skin. Allow your veggies to cool for easy working and then dice into 1/4″ to 1/2″ pieces.
Prepare your pasta dough while the veggies are cooling or cook ready-made lasagna noodles according to package directions. For fresh dough, leave covered with a damp cloth in an oiled bowl until time to roll into sheets for the lasagna layers.
Preparing Veggie Filling:
Heat 1 Tbsp. olive in a large pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook 4 to 5 minutes until soft. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant. Puree half the diced tomatoes and then add both the diced and purée tomatoes to the pan along with the half of cup of water. Allow to simmer for about 3 minutes and then add all the grilled veggies to the pan, followed by the spinach. Season with salt and pepper and stir until mixed well. Remove from heat and set aside.
Preparing the Cheese Filling:
In a large bowl, add the ricotta cheese, pecorino romano, eggs, fresh basil, fresh ground black pepper to taste and half teaspoon of salt and stir to combine.
Preheat the oven 350° F and lightly oil a 9″ x 13″ x 2″ baking dish.
Roll out a sheet of fresh pasta to desired thickness on a floured surface, leaving rest of pasta in the damp cloth until needed, rolling out each layer as needed to prevent it from drying out.
Spoon about 1 cup of the veggie filling into the bottom of a the baking dish. Arrange the sheet of pasta or your prepared noodles across the pan to cover the dish.
Spread half the cheese filling over the pasta and sprinkle with a third of the shredded fresh mozzarella cheese. Top with a third of the veggie filling. Add another layer of the pasta and repeat with the cheese filling, a third of the mozzarella cheese and third of the veggie filling.
Apply a last layer of pasta, veggie filling and then top with the last of the mozzarella cheese and sprinkle on the crumbled goat cheese. Cover the dish loosely with a lightly oiled piece of aluminum foil and pop it into the oven. Bake covered for 30 minutes and then uncover and bake for 15 more minutes or until cheese is crusty around the edges. For final yumminess, turn on the broiler and brown the cheese until golden brown on top.
Allow the lasagna to rest for about 30 minutes before serving. This gives times for the liquids to absorb and the dish to cool, making serving easier. Like with most lasagna this one is better the next day if you can wait that long to try it.
Makes about 16 servings.
More Veggie Lasagna Recipes: