Where's the Beef?

Let's just say that something is awry.

For whatever reason, David has no desire to eat meat as of late. The thought of a big, juicy grilled steak has seemingly lost its appeal to him. And I am as befuddled as I am thrilled! Maybe it's the heat or maybe it truly is a turn of events, but that reality certainly means that, at least for now, I do not have to "accommodate" our meat or non-meat eating issues at meal time. That can complicate matters quite a bit.

When I came home from the market on Sunday with well over 18 pieces of summer squash (zucchini, crooked-neck and golden) and at least 8 eggplants (both round and Japanese), I knew I needed to make something that called for a lot of vegetables. And I do mean a lot. And something that would be equally as good as leftovers.

So I posted an inquiry on Facebook as to what I should do with this bounty and the response of "vegetable lasagna" was the one that got me. Karen Volpe Cook of EatSA made this recommendation and I took her up on it. And gave it my own spin.

Rather than use noodles, I used thinly sliced squash and eggplant. I replaced the obligatory spinach with kale, smothered the layer with homemade tomato sauce (stuff I had in the freezer from the peak of tomato season) and then plopped spoonfuls of homemade ricotta and freshly grated Parmesan on top. Naturally, I added plenty of fresh basil and oregano to the tomato sauce as well.

If I were to make this again, I would consider roasting the vegetable slices (doused with extra virgin olive oil) in a 400 degree oven so they caramelize and extract some of the liquid. This would also give an added dimension of flavor to the lasagna. I would also remove the stems from the kale which David thought was "quite unsightly" and chop it coarsely.

The good news is that Meatless Monday then became meatful Tuesday when we served leftover vegetable lasagna with a link of grilled hot Italian sausage. Oh well. While David might not be interested in a steak, neither of us can turn down a glorious, grilled Italian sausage. 

Buen provecho!

Summer Vegetable Lasagna
The Cowgirl Gourmet

Print recipe

I came up with this recipe as a way to use an extraordinary amount of assorted summer squash and eggplant. You can add in lasagna noodles if you want, but we really enjoyed the simplicity of the vegetables. The fact that it was gluten-free and carb-free was even better. 

Use more of whatever vegetable you have or replace the kale with spinach. You could roast the vegetables off in the oven first and then layer the dish. If you do this, you should also cook the kale or spinach so everything is just reheated in the oven rather than cooked. 

This is such a versatile recipe, just make it your own using the ingredients you have and what you and your family like best.

Serves 6-8

4-6 summer squash (zucchini, crooked-neck and/or golden), ends removed and thinly sliced lengthwise
3 eggplant, thinly sliced lengthwise
Bunch of kale or spinach, washed and big stems removed, chopped
1 cup ricotta (homemade is preferred)
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 1/2 quarts of tomato sauce (homemade is preferred) with fresh basil and oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a rectangular baking dish, spoon 2/3 cup of tomato sauce. 

Then begin layering the sliced squash and season with salt and pepper. Top with greens (kale or spinach). 

And then slather the sauce on top. Place dollops of ricotta and carefully spread the ricotta into the sauce making sure the sauce covers all of the vegetables. Top with grated parm. If you want, you could add slices of fresh mozzarella now or just leave the mozzarella for the top of the lasagna.

Next layer the eggplant.

And add chopped kale or spinach, season with salt and pepper and top with sauce, dollops of ricotta and parm. Again, blend in the ricotta with the sauce. If you want a cheesy lasagna, you could add mozzarella here if you want.

Then layer more sliced squash, season with salt and pepper and top with sauce. This should be your last layer, so now place the mozzarella on top, cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes to an hour until its bubbling. You may want to remove the foil for the last 10 minutes so the cheese gets all brown and crispy.

When it's done, remove the lasagna from the oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Slice generously, serve with salad and enjoy!


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