Every Sunday as kids we went to my grandparents’ house for some sort of pasta based meal. Usually, it was the normal macaroni and meatballs but sometimes we lucked out, Grandma got ambitious and we had lasagna. I’m not sure why lasagna seemed so much fancier and like a treat compared to the usual pasta, but it did.
We’d get there right after church, immediately run out of the car and down to the dog kennels for me and over to the horses for my brother. In the summer, we’d be in their in ground pool as fast as we could change into our bathing suits and be greeted with a Nestle crunch bar ice cream pop as soon as we emerged all wrinkled. In the winter, we’d play in my grandpa’s den, jumping on his exercise trampoline and staring at the swords and deer heads mounted on the wall. Between 12 and 2 Grandma would be at the stove making the sauce and asking people if it tasted “aspy” (a phrase I never understood until I finally learned it was some sort of Italian slang). We’d sit down around 3pm, say grace and dig in. Grandpa sat at the head of the table always in his blue velour jumpsuit telling some outlandish story involving many instances of the phrase “that son of a bitch!”. Think of The Sopranos, minus the mob part and maybe toned down by about 25% or so. Clean up involved men on the couch watching sports, women in the kitchen and me whining how it wasn’t fair. I still stand by that. It was the late 80s, early 90s, not 1920.
Many things have changed since then. I haven’t stepped foot in a church on a Sunday in years, my grandparents got divorced after 45+ years of marriage and I wouldn’t eat a Nestle crunch bar if you paid me. But when I see or think of lasagna, I’m instantly connected to those Sunday memories.
Foodbuzz gave me the chance to test out the new Glad Freezerware through the tastemakers program. When it came to the house and I saw the packaging had a picture of lasagna on it, I knew I wanted to create my own Sunday memory. A tribute to old memories with an easy, fresh and summery spin.
I used zucchini and kale to stuff it with, lasagna noodles that don’t need boiling and sauce that doesn’t need cooking. I think I’d give my Grandpa a heart attack just telling him that. It’s definitely not the typical meat, sauce and cheese heavy dish he’s used to, but I stand by it.
It might not be similar to regular lasagna in taste, but leftovers freezes great just like the “real” thing. The GLAD FreezerWare resists cracking and is designed to be heated directly from the freezer which is nice because I’ve definitely ruined other containers being lazy like that that way.
Leftovers were always the one bright part about having to leave Sunday dinners, make the hour trek back home and get ready for school the next day. 20 years later, family dinners have become a rare occurrence, school has become work, but at least I don’t have to fight my brother for the leftovers.
Simple summer lasagna
A vegetarian, summery lasagna using no boil noodles and a no cook sauce.
- 8 ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 clove garlic
- 10 leaves of basil + 1/4 cup chopped
- salt and pepper
- 2 cups whole milk ricotta
- 11/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 large zucchini, sliced thinly on the diagonal
- 1/2 head of kale, stems removed, leaves roughly chopped
- 4.5 oz (half a package) no boil lasagna noodles
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a rectangular baking dish with cooking spray.
- In a food processor, combine tomatoes, garlic, 10 leaves of basil and a generous amount of salt & pepper. Process until pureed, taste for seasoning and set aside.
- In a small skillet over medium-high heat, saute shallot with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil until softened, about 3 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine ricotta, red pepper flakes, remaining olive oil, sauteed shallots and salt & pepper to taste.
- Begin layering lasagna. First, coat bottom of the baking dish with a bit of the tomato sauce. Next layer noodles, overlapping slightly. Spread more tomato sauce on top of that. Drop dollops of the ricotta mixture on top of sauce and then layer 1/2 the zucchini, kale and basil.
- Repeat that layer once more and then top with last layer of noodles, sauce and remaining ricotta.
- Bake loosely covered with tin foil for 30 minutes.
- Remove foil and continue baking for another 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.
- Garnish with additional basil.