Light and fresh are not typical descriptors of lasagna, but made with strips of oven-roasted zucchini, ricotta seasoned with spinach and arugula, a few fresh tomatoes reduced with red peppers, and local raw milk mozzarella, this dish was decidedly spring-like. Since the zucchini was young and a little floppy, I added a single sheet of thin durum wheat lasagna noodles at the bottom and between layers. I prefer the short wide noodles over the long ones. The noodles were barely noticeable but helped maintain the lasagna’s shape.
I used a Pyrex glass baking dish that measures about 6 x 8 inches. It comes with a plastic lid and therefore is very useful. This recipe serves 3-4 and is very flexible in the ingredients being used.
Spring Vegetable Lasagna
2 medium zucchini, ends trimmed and cut lengthwise into ¼-inch slices
4 short wide good quality lasagna noodles
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
½ red pepper, diced
6-8 fresh plum tomatoes, chopped
Pinch of salt
1 handful of spinach
1 small handful arugula
1 c ricotta cheese
1 egg, slightly beaten
Pinch of salt
1/3 – ½ c grated mozzarella cheese
Make the base. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly brush the zucchini slices with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Roast them in the oven until browned on one side, flip and cook a few minutes more. Remove from the pan and let cool on paper towels. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the lasagna noodles until not quite al dente. Remove, rinse lightly with cold water to stop the cooking and cool and dry them on paper towels.
Make the sauce. Saute the garlic in the olive oil over low heat until aromatic. Add the pepper, turn up the heat a little and cook for a couple of minutes, Add the tomato and a little salt and cook until the vegetables are softened but not dissolved.
Make the filling. Wash the spinach and arugula, shaking off the excess moisture. Cook them in a shallow pan in the water that clings to the leaves until wilted, about a minute. Remove the leaves to a colander to drain and cool. Squeeze out the excess moisture and chop them finely. Combine the greens with the ricotta cheese and egg, stirring to distribute the greens. Add a pinch of salt.
Assemble the lasagna. Lightly coat the bottom of a 6×8-inch baking dish with tomato sauce. Place one lasagna noodle in the center, lengthwise. Place half of the zucchini slices crosswise on top of the noodle. Spread half of the ricotta on top, Repeat the layers. Place a lasagna noodle on top of the last layer of ricotta and top with the tomato pepper sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella.
The dish can be prepared ahead and refrigerated for a day or so before baking.
Bake the lasagna. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the lasagna for about 40 minutes or until bubbly, Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Makes 3-4 servings.