Summer Squash and Pesto Ricotta Lasagna

A vegetarian lasagna bursting with flavor from summer squash, basil pesto ricotta, and a homemade tomato sauce | http://veggieandthebeastfeast.com

I know that turning on your oven for 50 minutes sounds like the worst thing ever in late July. I get it, but I’m hoping I can convince you otherwise.

A vegetarian lasagna bursting with flavor from summer squash, basil pesto ricotta, and a homemade tomato sauce | http://veggieandthebeastfeast.com

I’ve been eating mostly salads, grilled veggies and veggie burgers, and other oven-free foods lately. I love raw veggies when it’s hot out, but this weekend I felt the need to switch things up and throw some of summer’s best produce into the oven.

A vegetarian lasagna bursting with flavor from summer squash, basil pesto ricotta, and a homemade tomato sauce | http://veggieandthebeastfeast.com

Being a Minnesotan, there’s only a small window of time when fresh, organic, local produce is available at the co-op. Since zucchini is starting to take over gardens around the state, I used that seasonal, beautiful squash in this summertime lasagna.

A vegetarian lasagna bursting with flavor from summer squash, basil pesto ricotta, and a homemade tomato sauce | http://veggieandthebeastfeast.com

When we started dating, Ryan would probably have been uninterested in vegetarian lasagna. He would assume it was bland, because lasagna was all about the meat to him. I assume most people feel this way, and I understand why, but I have to disagree.

These days, when we’re at a restaurant and he considers ordering lasagna, he says, “Well, I shouldn’t order that here, because you make really good lasagna at home.”

Such a sweet talker! That’s a man after my heart.

A vegetarian lasagna bursting with flavor from summer squash, basil pesto ricotta, and a homemade tomato sauce | http://veggieandthebeastfeast.comA vegetarian lasagna bursting with flavor from summer squash, basil pesto ricotta, and a homemade tomato sauce | http://veggieandthebeastfeast.comA vegetarian lasagna bursting with flavor from summer squash, basil pesto ricotta, and a homemade tomato sauce | http://veggieandthebeastfeast.com

To make vegetarian lasagna interesting, you need to layer in the flavors. Instead of plain ricotta, I swirled in some homemade basil pesto. Instead of canned marinara, I made my own with high-quality crushed tomatoes with basil, and dark brown sugar to give it a little smoky sweetness. The vegetable layer includes the fresh, seasonal zucchini and yellow squash I couldn’t resist at the co-op, as well as some super-flavorful sliced leeks. When I don’t know what to add to a dish to give it more flavor, I usually reach for leeks. They have a deep, savory flavor that takes dishes a step further than a regular old onion ever could.

A vegetarian lasagna bursting with flavor from summer squash, basil pesto ricotta, and a homemade tomato sauce | http://veggieandthebeastfeast.com

I’ll admit that lasagna takes more time and effort than most of my meals, but I don’t mind putting in some extra elbow grease when the result feeds me for DAYS. I made this lasagna on Sunday, and enjoyed 3 slices before heading out of town to meet up with Ryan in northern MN. I gave half of the pan to my sister, and I still have another 3 slices waiting for me in the freezer when I return.
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