What are your favorite ways to prepare those fresh — and quick to spoil — summer veggies? Honestly, I’m always searching for new ways to serve that savory summer bounty. Now I realize that lasagne isn’t frequently regarded as a summertime option, but think of it more as a summer ratatouille with noodles, okay? It literally explodes with fresh flavor, tastes incredibly light, and you’ll be thankfully missing that “gut bomb” feeling which invariably accompanies the traditional meaty Bolognese version. (Bonus: this recipe utilizes a bounty of veggies, so you can clean out that crisper in short order before the spoil sets in!)
Guilt-Free (Well, Kinda) Vegetable Lasagna With Poblano Cream Sauce
For the Marinara Sauce*…
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup bell pepper, finely chopped
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- 2 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. thyme
- 1 tsp. marjoram
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1 (24 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tsp. sugar
In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until softened and beginning to turn transluscent. Add the bell pepper to the onion mixture and cook another 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, taking care not to burn the garlic pieces. Add the oregano, basil, thyme, marjoram, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Pour the crushed tomatoes into the onion mixture, then add the sugar and stir well to combine all ingredients. Cover the saucepan and simmer over low heat for 25-30 minutes, stirring occassionally. (Sauce can be made a day or two ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.)
* To save time, feel free to replace this homemade Marinara Sauce with your favorite jarred brand.
For the Poblano Cream Sauce…
I adapted this recipe from Peaceful Cooking’s version. It is absolutely delicious and so simple to make!*
- 4 roasted poblano chiles, peeled with seeds and membranes removed
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup milk or half and half
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup Mexican Crema
Kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste
Roughly chop the roasted chiles and place them in a blender or mini food processor. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion until it become soft and translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and sauté for an additional minute or two. Let the mixture cool for 5-10 minutes, then it add the chiles to the processor. Pour the milk into the processor, then puree until the sauce is smooth.
Melt the butter over medium-low heat in the same skillet, then add the butter, stirring often until the mixture begins to brown. Add the poblano puree and stir until it is completely blended. Add the Mexican Crema to the sauce, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to thicken. Season with kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste.
*Can you even imagine how amazing this Poblano sauce would taste over baked chicken, eggs, fresh fish or grilled veggies? OMG!
For the Lasagne…
- 2 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4” pieces
- 2 medium yellow squash, cut lengthwise into 1/4” pieces
- 5-6 roasted red bell peppers (from the jar)
- 1 small eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4″ pieces
- 1 small yellow onion, sliced into thin rings
- 2 portobello mushrooms, cut into 1/4″ pieces
- 1-1/2 cups low fat or part skim ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded carrots
- 1/4 cup sliced scallions
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
- 10-12 Whole Wheat lasagna noodles
- 1-1/2 cups reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
- 1-2 teaspoons seasoned salt
In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, grated carrots, onions and sliced garlic and mix thoroughly. Season with a little kosher salt and cracked pepper for taste.
Fill a large stock pot half full with water. Add a tablespoon or so of salt and a drizzle of vegetable oil. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the lasagna noodles, 3-4 at a time, and cook uncovered until they are just beginning to soften, about 5 to 6 minutes. (You will need about 10 noodles.) Lay the noodles side by side on a piece of wax or parchment paper while cooking remaining sheets to prevent them from sticking to each other.
While the water is heating, grill the onion rings in a skillet over medium high heat until they begin to soften. (This ensures that they’re sweet and thoroughly cooked when the lasagne is finished.)
Preheat your oven to 350F. Spoon 1/3 of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a 13”x9”x2” baking pan that has been lined with cooking spray. Place half of the lasagna noodles on top of sauce. (Do not overlap noodles.) Spread 1/2 of ricotta cheese mixture over noodles.
Top with a layer of zucchini and yellow squash laid side by side, then a layer of red bell peppers, and a layer of onion rings.
Spoon 1/3 of sauce over of the vegetables and place the remaining noodles on top of sauce. Spread the remainder of your ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles. Top with the rest of the zucchini and yellow squash, then add the mushroom pieces. Spread the eggplant slices evenly over the mushrooms and add top with the remaining onion rings.
Cover the vegetables with the Poblano cream sauce, then evenly cover the lasagne with the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Sprinkle a teaspoon or so of your favorite all-purpose seasoning over the cheese.
Bake the lasagne for 45 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil and it rest at least 15 minutes, which will allow the lasagna to absorb the juices and set.