“Zucchini and Meat” Summer Lasagna

Gotta fix me a summer lasagna…and enjoy layers of noodles, red and white sauce, and medley of cheeses.     But I must make it “summer-friendly”, meaning less preps involved, some parts semi-homemade and not too rich and heavy sauces.   So, not minding the steamy conditions outside and little sweats inside, I was determined to make my summer lasagna.  My strategy:  Saute the vegetables and ground beef filling, jazz up a jar of pasta or spaghetti sauce, whip up a creamy ricotta cheese filling and use Barilla no-boil lasagna noodles.   So here’s the recipe…

“ZUCCHINI AND MEAT” SUMMER LASAGNA
Feel free to add any other veggies in your fridge like bell peppers, mushroom, squash, etc.   The fillings will make enough for a)  “dinner tomorrow” 9 x 13 lasagna and b) “can’t wait, I want it now” 8 inch square pan.  Once stored overnight in the fridge, the “dinner tomorrow” lasagna can be easily cut into squares.

Vegetable and Meat Filling:

1/2 lb ground beef, browned and drained
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 large zucchini, sliced (use mandoline, if available)
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Saute, stirring constantly.  Add flour last, cooking it well.

Tomato Sauce:

1 (24 oz) jar pasta or spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup tomato catsup
freshly-squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
Whisk to combine well.

Ricotta Filling:

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups ricotta cheese (Use Calabro cheese so no need to strain to remove excess moisture)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs
Beat all ingredients using electric mixer.

Grated mozzarella cheese (Use Calabro)
Topping:  1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Spray a) 13 x9 x 3 inch and b) 8 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Assembly:

1.  Spread thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of prepared pans.

2.  Top with single layer of no-boil lasagna noodles.  Spread with Ricotta filling, Vegetable and Meat Filling, grated mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce.

3.  Repeat layer 2.

4.  Top with another single layer of no-boil lasagna noodles.  Spread with Ricotta filling, tomato sauce, grated mozzarella cheese.  Sprinkle with coarsely chopped walnuts.

Cover with foil, and bake for 55 minutes.  Remove foil, and bake an additional 5 minutes.    Let lasagna rest 20 minutes before “diving into” lasagna in small baking pan.

You’ll love this…it’s summer-rific!

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