Farmers’ markets are at their peak right now and almost anything that grows during the summer is now available. To take advantage of the bounty, why not make this lasagna which is packed full of summer herbs and vegetables? It’s the perfect dish for entertaining because you can assemble it in advance and bake as guests arrive. The various components take a bit of time to pull together but it’s pretty straightforward and the effort is well worth it. The recipe can also be adapted to suit vegetarians.
Summer Lasagna with Vegetables, Sausage and Pesto
Serves 6 to 8
For a vegetarian version, omit the sausage and double the vegetables.
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Pinch of salt
Sausage and Vegetable Sauce:
- 3 mild Italian sausages
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup diced eggplant (about ½ small eggplant, cut into a ½” dice)
- 1 cup diced zucchini (cut into a ½” dice)
- ½ small red pepper, diced
- ½ small yellow pepper, diced
- ½ red onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 28 fl. oz. (796 ml) can whole tomatoes
- 5.5 fl. oz. (156 ml) can tomato paste
- Pinch of sugar
- Salt to taste
- 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup flour
- 3 cups whole or 2% milk
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Salt, to taste
- 3 to 5 fresh lasagna sheets (or more to fit the pan)
- 5 oz. mozzarella, grated (equals about 1 cup loosely packed when grated)
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
To Make the Pesto Sauce:
- In a food processor or processor cup of a hand blender, combine all ingredients and puree until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To Make the Sausage and Vegetable Sauce:
- Remove sausage meat from casings. Heat olive oil on medium-high in a large skillet or enameled cast iron pot. Add sausage meat and cook until just browned, about 7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove sausage from the pan and set aside.
- Add eggplant, zucchini, peppers and onion to the pan and cook until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, chopped basil and red pepper flakes and cook for another two minutes.
- Pour in tomatoes and break up with a spoon. Add tomato paste and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Let the sauce simmer for about 15 minutes until it is thick (béchamel can be prepared during this time – see below). Season tomato sauce with a pinch of sugar and salt to taste. Set aside until ready to use. Sauce can be refrigerated up to two days.
To Make the Béchamel Sauce:
- In a large saucepan, heat butter on medium-high until just melted. Add flour and quickly whisk into the melted butter. Reduce heat to medium and cook flour mixture for 2 minutes, whisking constantly.
- Add 1 cup of milk and whisk until smooth. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until mixture begins to thicken and add another cup of milk. Continue until all milk has been added. Add nutmeg and stir to combine. Season with salt to taste and set aside until ready to use.
Assembling and Baking the Lasagna:
- In the bottom of a baking pan measuring 7” X 11” X 2” (2 quarts), spread a thin layer of pesto sauce. Cover with a thin layer of tomato/sausage sauce and top with a drizzle of béchamel.
- Place a fresh lasagna noodle on top, cutting sheets to fit the pan as necessary.
- Repeat the process: pesto, tomato sauce, béchamel, noodles/pesto, tomato sauce, béchamel, noodles/pesto, tomato sauce, béchamel. Top with shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan. Lasagna can be refrigerated until ready to bake, up to two days.
- To Bake: Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake lasagna for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top is bubbling and beginning to brown. Let cool slightly before serving.
Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.
This recipe first appeared on Suite 101.com.