I talked already this year about how summer is over and it’s getting colder and we totally need to start embracing warm-weather food, and then I show you a recipe with a decidedly summery herb AND vegetable as the main ingredients.
It’s a confusing time for everyone, this in-between seasons business. I get the moon stuff, but I wish that the seasons changed like on the first of the month or something. October 1 is fall, that kind of thing.
BUT, since it’s still pretty warm and my basil is inexplicably still enormous and there is kind of always yellow squash around, I needed to make something that CELEBRATED those things. Not just used, but celebrated. The basil especially. I love a lasagna with a non-red sauce, and if you’re even the teensiest bit into pesto you’ll adore this. The sauce is pesto, but with cream. WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE? Nothing is what.
AND BASIL. You need all the basil. This was approximately 1/5 of the size of my basil plant, and made about 4 cups of loosely packed fresh basil leaves when I removed the stems. Give or take. If you buy the packages at the store buy two and call it a day.
If you’re baking this right away, go ahead and preheat the oven to whatever your noodle box says. You can also make this a day or two in advance and keep it in the fridge, which makes it a great weekend make-ahead. Then, get started on the pesto sauce.
Combine the basil, garlic, half and half, cream, stock, parmesan, pine nuts, and a sprinkle of salt in a food processor.
Blend the ingredients until they’re smooth. The mixture should be thin, like thick lumpy milk or something. So. Appetizing. Taste it, and add salt and pepper. We’re looking for a pretty salty flavor since this will be what’s used to salt the noodles and squash in the dish.
Then cut the squash into thin planks – kind of like lasagna noodles, get it? Since we are adding the squash we end up using fewer layers of noodles, so we add veg and cut down on processed carbs. Win!
Now, to make the lasagna. Start with a thin layer of the pesto sauce in the bottom of a baking dish.
The lasagna should be slightly soupy. If it isn’t, pour 1/2 cup or so of extra stock and/or half and half around the edges to be sure there is enough liquid to cook the noodles. The squash helps with this too.
Bake the lasagna per the package directions (usually covered for 45 minutes, uncovered for 15), until the noodles are cooked through and the top is bubbly and brown. It’s hard, but let the lasagna rest for 10-20 minutes after you take it out of the oven so it doesn’t slide apart when you slice it.
The flavors here are INSANE. I love the squash cut like the lasagna noodles because it helps the whole dish stand up really well without ricotta or egg or any other heavy ingredients. You could totally swap out the cheese for something a little stronger, or even dot in a little bit of goat cheese if you’re feeling fancy.
Oh, and. No fresh basil? Mix 1/2 cup prepared pesto with the stock + cream + half and half in the initial sauce-making step and proceed. No stress necessary. Enjoy!
- 4 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan, divided
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup half and half
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, plus extra for topping
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
- 5-6 small yellow squash, thinly sliced into planks
- no-boil lasagna noodles (enough for 1 pan of lasagna)
- In a food processor, combine the basil, garlic, cream, half and half, stock, pine nuts, and half the parmesan until very smooth. The mixture will be thin; add more half and half if needed to thin it out to make 2-3 cups of sauce. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper to your preference; set aside. The mixture should taste sightly salty as it will be flavoring the noodles and squash in the lasagna.
- Layer the lasagna in the following order: make a thin layer of the pesto sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish. Top with an even layer of noodles, then an even layer of squash planks, layered like the noodles. Sprinkle with a handful of the cheese, then pour over a bit more sauce - 1/2 cup or so. Repeat 3 or 4 times until all the ingredients are used, ending with noodles, cheese, sauce, and the rest of the parmesan. Sprinkle the top of the lasagna with a few extra pine nuts.
- Bake as the noodle box instructs, then let the lasagna rest for 15 minutes. Slice gently into squares and serve!