Lasagnas are all-year long food. This majestic layered pasta dish is usually associated in winter months, heavy béchamel sauce, and unctuous meaty bolognese. Truly, this is the traditional. But such a limitation does not have to exist.
Rather than using the proper but laborious homemade béchamel, this summertime rendition uses ricotta cheese and cottage cheese. Broccoli is quickly blanched, minced and folded into the ricotta cheese. The vegetal taste permeates and brings new life to the lasagna. And rather than a meaty bolognese, this summer remix uses two different tomato-based sauces for double the sunshine-ness. The first is the more traditional canned tomato sauce. The second is a gently simmered mix of cherry tomatoes.
But what kicks this over the top, and my favorite aspect, the cottage cheese. Its texture, mouth feel, and flavor is divine in a lasagna. This lasagna may be enjoyed hot or cold. And your family and friends will dig your relatively healthiness and creativity.
Broccoli, ricotta, cottage cheese lasagna recipe
Ingredients (serves 6):
- 1 package of dried or fresh lasagna pasta sheets
- 2 lbs broccoli
- 1 lb ricotta cheese
- 1/2 lb cottage cheese
- 1 lb fresh mozzarella, shredded by hand
- 50 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 16 oz canned San Marzano whole tomatoes
- 12 garlic cloves, sliced or minced
- Handful basil
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
I recommend preparing the following tomato sauces in advance either the day before or earlier in the day.
Prepare the cherry tomato sauce by adding olive oil, 8 garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, and the halved cherry tomatoes in a large sauté pan over low heat. Gingerly cook these for 15-30 minutes. Stir the contents with a wooden spoon once in a while. Season with salt and pepper at the very end once the tomatoes are soft and released some of its juices.
Prepare the second tomato sauce by sautéing the other 4 cloves of garlic over medium heat. Add the canned tomatoes and the basil. Have this simmer over low heat for 15-30 minutes.
Bring two large pots of water to a boil. One will cook the broccoli, the other the lasagna pasta sheets.
Season aggressively the boiling water with salt and add the broccoli. This will blanche quickly, approximately 1 minute. Do not overcook the broccoli and have them turn into soft, mushy vegetables. Strain the the broccoli and place them into a bowl of iced water. This bath will stop the cooking process. After a couple minutes in the cold water, transfer the broccoli to the chopping board. Give them a rough chop and add them to the ricotta. Fold the broccoli into the ricotta cheese and season aggressively with salt and pepper.
Add the pasta sheets to the other seasoned pot of boil water. Cook the pasta as per the instructions of the package and strain.
Now the best part, building the layers of the lasagna. Using a baking dish, cover the bottom of the dish with some of the canned tomato sauce. Don’t want the first lasagna sheet layer burning and sticking the pan. Then fill free to build the lasagna as you wish. I go pasta sheet, cherry tomatoes, pasta sheet, broccoli ricotta, pasta sheet, cherry tomatoes & cottage cheese & shredded mozzarella, and then repeat. On the very top, incorporate a bit of the canned tomato sauce as well.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Pop in the lasagna for approx 15-20 minutes for it to heat all the way through. Serve immediately or cold with some garlic bread. Enjoy!