Two Pesto Summer Squash Lasagna

This time of year zucchini and yellow squash are in abundance at farmer’s markets, in neighborhood gardens and in the produce section at the local market. My mother-in-law always grows zucchini and we end up with all the extras when the plants take off and produce way more that the two of them can eat!

Two of my favorite Italian sauce flavors are pesto and sun-dried tomatoes. Their flavor profiles just wake up my palate. I find myself adding either – or sometimes both – of them to a variety of dishes. So, when I decided to make a summer squash lasagna as part of my Sunday Meal Prep, a lightbulb went off in my head to skip the Sunday Gravy and use these two flavors instead. 

I started off by making both a spinach pesto and a sun-dried tomato pesto. 

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I wanted to lighten up the filling, so instead of using all ricotta, I used half cottage cheese to make the cheese layer mixture.

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Using a mandoline (and a protective glove), I sliced the zucchini and yellow squash lengthwise to produce strips that resembled noodles. Then, I began layering the lasagnas. I used a small Pampered Chef baker and several small oval ramekins so that I would have multiple servings – dinner, lunches during the week and maybe one weeknight dinner if it lasted that long!

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I always start my lasagna the way my mom taught me – by putting sauce on the bottom so the noodles don’t stick. Then, I add a layer of noodles, a layer of ricotta mixture and one of the two pesto sauces. 

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For each dish, I alternated between the spinach pesto and the sun-dried tomato pesto.  

I always end with a layer that is squash or zucchini, sauce and cheese (no ricotta mixture in the final layer).  Tent the baking dishes with foil for the first 30 minutes to prevent the cheese from burning. Remove it in the final 10 minutes or so. 

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The results is an amazing flavor that tantalizes your taste buds on so many levels as each of flavor profiles hits the sweet spot on your tongue!

Two Pesto Summer Squash Lasagna

Two Pesto Summer Squash Lasagna

  • Vegetables:
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • Traditional (Sort of) Pesto:
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts, walnuts or pecans
  • ½ tsp minced garlic
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves (I just eyeball it with a big handful)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • olive oil to desired consistency
  • Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto:
  • ½ jar of sun dried tomatoes
  • ½ tsp minced garlic
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves (I just eyeball it with a big handful)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • olive oil to desired consistency
  • Ricotta Layer:
  • 1/3 cup Cottage cheese
  • 1/3 cup Ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 Tbsp parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper
  • Other ingredients:
  • shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350.

Use a mandolin to create strips of the zucchini and yellow squash about 1/32” thick. I like the noodles to be thin. If you don’t have a mandolin and your slices end up thicker, I suggest putting some olive oil, salt and pepper on them and roasting them for about 20 minutes before assembling this dish.

For Individual Lasagnas (oval 4X6 bakers):

Spread a couple tablespoons sauce on bottom of each baking dish to cover bottom to prevent sticking. Top with squash noodles to cover. Spread ¼ each of the pesto followed by the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles, then add mozzarella. Repeat this full layering process until almost at the top of baking dish and then top last layer with noodles. The next to last layer of either baking dish should be the pesto or sun-dried tomato sauce. The top layer should be mozzarella cheese.

Tent (to prevent cheese from sticking) with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 8 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

For Traditional Lasagna (9X13 casserole):

NOTE: You will need to make a double batch of the pesto and ricotta mixture to make a full casserole.

Spread sauce in bottom of baking dish to cover bottom to prevent sticking. Top with squash noodles to cover. Spread ¼ each of the pesto followed by the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles, then add mozzarella. Repeat this full layering process until almost at the top of baking dish and then top with more noodles. The next to last layer should be either the pesto or sun-dried tomato sauce. The top layer should be mozzarella cheese.

Tent (to prevent cheese from sticking) with foil, and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

 

What exciting flavor profiles have you used to alter traditional lasagna? 

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Cassandra Burke is a Forensic Scientist by day, and a Group Fitness Instructor, Swim Team Coordinator and Travel Agent by night. A Breast Cancer Survivor since 2010, she writes about her journey as well as her struggles – training for triathlons and races, struggling to get back her health, and balancing family life all while building her brand and finding her purpose after cancer. Subscribe to Cassandra’s newsletter for updates and follow @poweredbybling on social media! For endurance sport race travel and custom family vacation travel, visit her at pbbtravel.com.

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