|Liberated Lasagna with Arugula-Basil Pesto and Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce For Two|
In this in-between season tomatoes are more like ping pong balls than the sun-kissed visions we long for and are just as flavourless. While I was puttering around the house today I tucked a pan of store-bought tomatoes into the oven, came back 45 minutes later, and had a peak. Roasting concentrates and caramelizes the flavour of cherry tomatoes. The roasted tomatoes become a versatile ingredient, perfect for tossing into pasta or salads, layering on sandwiches, or just using as a terrific side dish for grilled or roasted meats. They keep in the refrigerator for a week (or longer, if you can manage not to eat them all first), and you can freeze them, too. We can certainly use this method this time of year while we are longing for warmer weather. We need to be patient just a little longer for sun-ripened tomatoes; mother nature needs time. Their intense flavour was perfect for this free form lasagna. I roasted them with some herbs, garlic and onion and blended them into an unctuous sauce saving a few for a pop of a garnish on top. The recipe below is for 2, so, you will have some leftover tomato sauce, so, perhaps add diced olives or capers, and spoon it over sautéed or baked chicken breasts; thin with broth, water, or heavy cream for a hot soup; or drizzle over broiled seasonal halibut.
The cooked lasagna noodles are cut into squares, brushed lightly with basil-arugula pesto and layered with this intensely flavoured roasted tomato sauce. Add a few slices of moist buffalo mozzarella cheese, a quick trip into a hot oven on individual plates, and out comes these gorgeous dishes, the epitome of rustic elegance. That is the basic template since you are limited only by your imagination. For your own twist on this twist layer your noodles with lightly grilled zucchini or eggplant, roasted and peeled red peppers, wild mushrooms, or cooked winter squash, crumbled Italian sausage; the possibilities are endless.
But wait, you're saying, that's not lasagna. Well, in my home it will be from now on throughout the summer months. It's quick, it's easy and is open to any interpretation. As you all know a traditional lasagna is an all afternoon affair from the making of the lovingly cooked ragù to the white sauce or "besciamella." From there you need to layer and bake, and allow it to cool slightly before you dig in. But strip away some of the lushness, pare the dish down to its essentials, and something new appears. You'll find that this lighter touch lets each ingredient shine through.
|This looks like a large portion, but the size of the plate is deceiving.|
**Liberated Lasagna with Arugula-Basil Pesto and Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce**
from the More Than Burnt Toast Kitchen
6 sheets of lasagne noodles
1 large ball buffalo mozzarella cheese, cut in 1/4-inch thick slices (or use barrata)
1/4 cup Arugula-Basil Pesto (recipe below)
1 cup Roasted Tomato Sauce (recipe below)
Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350F. Cook lasagna sheets according to package directions. On an ovenproof plate create alternate layers starting with cooked pasta sheets, arugula-basil pesto, slices of buffalo mozzarella and roasted tomato sauce and ending with pesto. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, just enough to melt mozzarella. Sprinkle with grated Romano. Serve immediately.
**Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce**
1 pound red cherry tomatoes
1 pound yellow cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F.
In a large, glass baking dish, toss the tomatoes with the oil, onion, garlic, balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes (if using), salt, and pepper. Roast until the tomatoes are tender, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from the oven and add the basil, parsley, and oregano. Transfer mixture (including juices) to a blender; pulse several times, until smooth, (alternatively use a stick or immersion blender).
**Arugula and Basil Pesto**
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves
2 generous handfuls (loosely packed) fresh arugula
1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons lukewarm water
Place 1/2 cup oil basil leaves, arugula, Romano cheese, pine nuts, garlic, and lemon zest in processor. Process to a thick paste. With motor running, add remaining 1/4 cup oil and 2 tablespoons water to processor. Blend until smooth. Season pesto to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 days ahead. If so, pour a thin layer of oil over pesto; cover and chill.)
|Layers of creamy buffalo mozzarella, pesto and roasted tomato sauce|
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