It’s hard to say goodbye to summer, but the taste of summer tomatoes and fresh basil can linger on with this recipe for Tomato Basil Lasagna. Lasagna is perfect for entertaining, as it can be made ahead and baked in the oven while you enjoy your guests. But most lasagna recipes are too heavy for early Fall, when it’s still fairly warm in most parts of the country. And, although it’s convenient, most lasagna recipes require much preparation.
This recipe is quick, easy and delivers a fresher taste than most. The filling is a simple combination of well-drained canned diced tomatoes, fresh basil, shredded mozzarella and chopped garlic. The recipe is based on a more elaborate preparation by renowned Italian chef Marcella Hazan. Her version calls for homemade spinach pasta, and if you have a source for fresh lasagna noodles in your area, by all means use them. However, I have found that the no-cook lasagna noodles available in most supermarkets are a good substitute for fresh. The trick is to give them a quick blanching in boiling water rather than layering them dry, as the box dictates. Their texture is much more delicate than regular dry lasagna noodles.
Serve your Tomato Basil Lasagna with a big green salad and some crusty bread for a "farewell to summer" meal.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the mozzarella, drained tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil and 2/3 cups of the grated Parmesan. Set aside.
- 1 box (10 ounces) no-cook lasagna noodles
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained well
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped or pressed garlic
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly torn into pieces
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
- Olive oil
Drop 2 or 3 lasagna noodles into the boiling water at a time, cooking for 2 minutes. Remove noodles to a colander and drain well, repeating with remaining noodles.
Coat the bottom of a 9 x 12-inch baking dish with olive oil. Line the bottom of the pan with noodles and cover with a layer of the mozzarella mixture. Repeat layers until all noodles and filling are used, ending with a layer of pasta. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup of bread crumbs and a bit of olive oil.
Bake, uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes, until bubbly and top is golden. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 6 servings.