Spring-ish Sundried Tomato Lasagna

It’s almost time to phase out the heavy winter comfort food for the lighter, fresher dishes of spring. ALMOST. In Park City, March can be fickle: sunshine and a sunburn on Friday followed by a snowstorm through the weekend (which is what just happened).

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This twist on a traditional lasagna fits right in between the seasons, a mix of comfort food and spring flavors. The most interesting thing about this lasagna is the sauce, using sundried tomatoes instead of a marinara. To make it, I drained some jarred sundried tomatoes and pulsed them in a food processor with lots of basil and some fresh parmesan cheese. I transferred it to a bowl and added heavy cream to make a thick sauce. Yum!

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For the filling, I used lots of tasty, fresh veggies: asparagus, mushrooms, and roasted corn. I also chopped up onion and plenty of garlic.

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To get started, I browned a bunch of salty pancetta, then set it aside on a paper towel-lined plate. I got the onion started in the drippings, followed by the asparagus and mushrooms. Next came the roasted corn kernels, the garlic, and some crushed red pepper for a little heat. Beautiful veggies!

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When the veggies were tender (but still had a bite), I transferred them to a bowl. I added the pancetta and some big scoops of ricotta cheese. The filling is done!

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To assemble the lasagna, I started by spreading some of the thick sundried tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Next came a layer of halfway boiled no-boil lasagna noodles. (I was worried that the sauce didn’t have enough liquid in it to cook the noodles!)

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Next came half of the veggie-ricotta mixture, then a generous sprinkling of shredded mozzarella cheese. I repeated the process, then added one last layer of noodles, sauce, and cheese. Let’s bake it!

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There’s something magical about a lasagna fresh from the oven. The browned, bubbling, cheesy topping hides what’s inside and makes you want to dive in. So we did.

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This dish tasted like no lasagna I’d ever had. The strongest flavor is the sundried tomato sauce, sweet and savory at the same time. Each bite included a jumble of yummy vegetables, with a salty pancetta surprise every now and then. The creaminess of a cheesy one-pot casserole satiates the comfort food cravings of chilly months, while the fresh veggies and unique sauce are hints of springtime– perfect for this crazy, in-between season in Utah.

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What’s your favorite recipe for not-quite-springtime? Share with me!

Spring-ish Sundried Tomato Lasagna (adapted from Giada de Laurentiis)

You’ll need:

  • 9 lasagna sheets, cooked to less than al dente
  • Olive oil
  • 10 ounces jarred sundried tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese for sauce
  • ¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese for layers
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces Italian brown mushrooms, sliced
  • Kernels from two charred corn cobs (or 1 cup frozen corn, thawed)
  • 8 ounces (or more) of diced pancetta
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 15 ounce container ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Salt, pepper, crushed red pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, combine the sun-dried tomatoes and basil. Pulse until the mixture is combined. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan and the heavy cream. Set aside.

In a large skillet, brown the pancetta until crisp. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and add the onion. After a couple of minutes, add the asparagus and mushrooms. After a few more minutes, add the roasted corn, garlic, and some crushed red pepper. Cook until all of the veggies are crisp-tender. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the ricotta, pancetta, a little salt, and some pepper. Stir to combine.

Spread some of the sun-dried tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9×12 casserole dish. Place three lasagna sheets over the sauce, then half of the veggie/ricotta mixture. Next sprinkle some mozzarella cheese and some of the remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan. Continue for 1 more layer. Top with lasagna sheets, some sun-dried tomato mixture, mozzarella, and Parmesan. Bake until the ingredients are warm and the cheese is melted, about a half hour. YUM!

Hungry for more? Check out the collection of recipes on the FOOD BLISS link above. 

One year ago: Easter nostalgia, deviled eggs, and a handful of Tums.

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