Remember that time I tried to make an all-veggie lasagna using eggplant & zucchini as the noodles? You know, back when I lived in Florence, Italy.
It is unspeakably entertaining to be able to say that I have actually lived in Florence. I’m thinking of printing onto my business cards. Too much?
That particular attempt ended up as more of an Italian vegetable pie than a lasagna, although that’s not to say it wasn’t tasty. So, when our neighbor brought over a huge yellow squash fresh from a coworker’s garden, the image of my first good-yet-completely-unlasagnalike try popped into my head:
And the next OTHd Challenge was born.
First, take a pan – I opted for the long shallow pan versus the 8X8, do whatever feels right to you – and spritz with some cooking spray.
Preheat your oven to 375 (you may end up turning it up to get it to cook faster should you be like me and horribly impatient/very hungry).
This squash was a big mofo, and was almost too much – probably about 3 medium-sized gourds would do it. I also recommend getting smaller squishes because the larger they grow, the tougher their skin becomes. And the bigger a pain in the butt it is to slice it into nice, even, lasagna-noodle-like slices.
I forged on with the slicing, undeterred by the dozen times I almost sliced my fingers off and by the unaesthetically appealing uneveness of the slices. This is why I love cooking; caution is thrown to the wind and I just wait and see what happens. I know, I know – I’m livin on the edge.
Next, I threw the many unwieldy squash slices into a big ole Ziploc with 2 T olive oil + 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar + 2 minced garlic cloves + fresh parsley-rosemary-oregano + S+P. Let it all mingle together for about an hour or so.
Did you wait the whole hour? Promise? Ok. Now, you know that oven I told you to preheat? Take your marinated squash slices and throw them on a pan and let them cook for about 5-8 minutes on each side (less time for smaller slices!).
While your squish is softening up preemptively in the oven, let’s work on the filling. I must say, I’m a little proud of this filling that I pulled out of nowhere.
All I did was take 3/4 c. of ricotta (I used fat free because it was all I had, use whatever your heart desires!) and mix in some sea salt, pepper, and a bit of lemon zest, about 1 – 1 1/2 tsp. I also pan roasted a clove of garlic I sliced and threw that in, although I might do another clove, I couldn’t taste it very well.
Have you flipped your squash? Okey dokey, let’s make lasagna. Make a layer or two of the squash. Then, on top of that add your ricotta filling, then 1/2 c. parmesan cheese. After that I made a layer of baby spinach, which I liked a lot, but if you don’t have it, don’t stress. After the second (and last) layer of squash, pour a can of Italian-spiced diced tomatoes over the top – you know, the ones with garlic/oregano/basil? I promise they are in your supermarket.
Sprinkle some more parmesan on top (~1/4 c.) and bake away. I just baked until it started bubbling, probably about 25-30 min, and I did end up turning the heat up to 400. Take it out & slice away!
Next time I would like to add some cannellini beans to it. You could also play around with the veggies – I plan on using eggplant and/or zucchini the next time around! I think basil would be a fantastic addition as well. But this was pretty good all on its own! Rave reviews from both of my parents – who, I will tell you, do not lie to me about my cooking. The lemon in the ricotta really made it, too – very light and summery. I will most certainly be making this again!
Another humpday, another challenge met and won. All in a day’s work.