This lasagna has a secret. If you serve this lasagna to guests upon a first glance they may think that it's nothing special, but once they bite into it they will discover the special secret hiding inside, which is garden fresh pesto.
When I set out to make lasagna, which was over a week ago, I felt conflicted about making such a heavy pasta dish considering it was technically still summer. Even though I consider it a cold weather meal I was really craving it so, to make myself feel better about the whole situation, I decided to incorporate some fresh pesto I had on had on hand. Think of it as a transitional lasagna-- comforting and cozy yet with a taste of summer.
I'm not including a recipe and wil just provide a walk-through of what I did. If you don't have a favorite lasagna recipe just use the one that is on the back of the box of noodles-- adding the pesto will really make it special. Lasagna is one of those things that once you make it a few times you can start trying new things and won't need a recipe anymore. The version I made includes ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. I also used mild Italian sausage, but you can substitute any meat (or veggies) that you like.
Most basic lasagna recipes call for ricotta and this was the vehicle I used to incorporate the pesto. I used a roasted pesto that I had on hand and combined a 1/4 cup of it with 15 ounces of ricotta cheese. This was enough to give a nice hint of the pesto in the lasagna, but feel free to add more if you want it extra pesto-y.
I made a three layer lasagna starting with a small amount of sauce on the bottom of the pan. Next, do a layer of noodles (precooked until just tender), followed by a layer of the meat sauce, and then a layer of the ricotta, followed by a layer of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat with the second layer. On the last layer you will just use the meat and cheeses. I'm finding that it's hard to describe how to layer things, so I hope it's not too confusing!
Bake the lasagna according to the recipe you are using and allow it to rest for at least 5-10 minutes before serving. I have discovered that when I make it ahead and keep it in the refrigerator it's best to add 10 minutes or so to the bake time, so keep that in mind.
So, if you're like me already craving cold weather comfort food, but, at the same time, feeling conflicted about it, try incorporating your summer favorites into those dishes. Already have ideas? I'd love to hear them so be sure to leave a comment!