Easy Summer Vegetable Lasagna

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It seems I start every post with “I love (insert type of food),” but once again, it’s true: I love lasagna. I usually think of it as a winter food, and one that requires a few hours of prep if done well. But this is a quick and easy summer recipe using, yes, you guessed it, ready to bake lasagna noodles! And it definitely won’t take you hours. 

A heads up, I did skip a few steps in the photos below. So make sure to follow the instructions, not just the photos.

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Use a deliciously smokey flavored cheese to give this dish the perfect pop and flare.

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This lasagna is great for improvising. In this recipe, if you keep the sweet onion and spinach mix, you can substitute almost any vegetables you desire for the zucchinis and eggplant. 

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The pan looks like some sort of splatter design I drew in Paint on my computer in the 90’s.

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Oven-ready lasagna noodles are a great choice, this coming from someone who likes to do a lot from scratch. I find they work best in lasagnas because they stay firm, whereas homemade or store-bought pot boiled noodles don’t. Especially in a vegetable lasagna, when the veggies add a lot of water already, oven-ready noodles are preferred.

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Spread as much or as little tomato sauce as you desire. (Or as your acid reflux desires.)

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Eggplant will shrink about half it’s size so don’t be shy with it. 

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And a beautiful mix of yellow and green zucchini, like little polka dots on a dress. 

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Layer with ricotta cheese, fresh herbs, and parmesan cheese. 

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Sprinkle some cheese, a layer of noodles, a bit more sauce…

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Some sweet onion and spinach…

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…and finally some more smoked shredded cheese.

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Yes, I do love lasagna. Not as much as I love my husband. But I definitely do love lasagna. And did I mention, he loved this meal too?  

Easy Summer Vegetable Lasagna
A fresh and easy twist on lasagna, perfect for the summer.
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Ingredients
  1. 9-12 oven ready lasagna noodles (depending on the dimensions of your pan, I used 9 in my pan)
  2. 1 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  4. 1 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
  5. 4 cups (packed) fresh spinach leaves
  6. 1 medium green zucchini
  7. 1 medium yellow zucchini
  8. 1 eggplant
  9. 15oz whole milk ricotta cheese
  10. 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  11. 1 large egg
  12. 1 tbsp fresh thyme, roughly chopped
  13. 1 tbsp fresh basil, minced
  14. 1-1/2 or so cups tomato sauce (really, to your own preference)
  15. 2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
  16. 1 cup smoked mozarella/provolone/gruyère/cheddar (whichever you can find) cheese, grated
  17. Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare all your ingredients: chop, slice, mince!
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-heat for about 2 or 3 minutes. Add the onions and cook 2 minutes. Add garlic. Continue cooking until onions become soft and translucent, about 2 or so more minutes.
  3. Add the spinach leaves to the onions and garlic. The pan will be heaping and awkward! It's okay. Cook it, stirring regularly and carefully, until all the spinach begins to wilt, about 2-3 minutes. Then remove from heat.
  4. Meanwhile, using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, carefully slice the zucchinis and eggplant into rounds. Slice thinly, but if you slice the eggplant too thin it disappears.
  5. In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, half of the parmesan, the thyme and basil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the egg and stir again until well mixed.
Prepare in the Pan
  1. You're all set to go! Spoon a few tablespoons of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9-inch-by-13-inch dish, just enough to coat the bottom with a thin layer. It doesn't have to be perfect.
  2. Layer a third of the lasagna noodles along the bottom of the pan, and top with a generous layer of sauce. Layer the eggplant slices, then the zucchinis, in rows, overlapping slightly.
  3. Divide the ricotta mixture in half, and using your fingers, spread the first half in a layer, as best you can. It doesn't have to be perfect.
  4. Sprinkle a third of the mozzarella and a third of the smoked cheese on top.
  5. Add a second layer of lasagna noodles, layer with sauce, and top with the spinach and onions, followed by the remaining ricotta, another third of the mozzarella and another third of the smoked cheese.
  6. Add the last layer of lasagne noodles, top with all the remaining cheese.
  7. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 40 minutes until the cheese is fully melted and the lasagna is cooked through.
  8. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees, remove the foil, and cook uncovered for an additional 12 minutes until the cheese begins to bubble and turn golden brown.
  9. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before slicing. Serve warm.
Notes
  1. This recipe freezes well!
  2. The cheese measurements are forgiving: use a little more or less as you desire.
Kara the Cook http://karathecook.com/
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Happy cooking, baking, and eating!

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PS. If you are wondering if I ever think it’s too hot to turn the oven on, the answer is unequivocally no! My husband may disagree..:)

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