Apologies for the delayed post. For whatever reason, this post about the medium sized zucchini was the hardest for me to decide on. I flipped through every cookbook I have and went into the archives of several blogs looking for inspiration. I considered making this inventive cobbler which I am still going to try, and I also considered some iteration of this but I have yet to buy a spiral slicer (next on my "to buy" list for the kitchen). I settled on pasta-less lasagna. The mornings and evenings have turned cold here and I find myself less drawn to chilled soups and salads for dinner. I want hot food but I still don't want the heavier pastas and stews of winter. This lasagna, using slabs of zucchini and eggplant in place of the noodles is a nice middle ground--hot, comforting, gooey with cheese but light and fresh and full of the summer garden harvest. I didn't include a recipe for the pesto here because I never really measure when I make it. Basically I throw salt, a clove or two of garlic, a raw nut of my choosing (walnuts this time) and big handfuls of herbs (basil & lemon balm in equal measure) into the food processor, hit "on", and pour good olive oil into the feed tube until I get the texture I want. From there I salt, pepper, and re-herb as needed. It requires, as most cooking does, the happy job of multiple taste tests.
Noodle-less Zucchini & Eggplant Lasagna
2 medium sized zucchini
1 medium eggplant
10-15oz whole milk ricotta
zest of one lemon
parsley, thyme, oregano, mint or any other fresh herb you have on hand
red pepper flakes
mozzarella and/or parmesan to top
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice the zucchini & eggplant lengthwise into 1/8-inch thick slices. Arrange in a single layer on your counter, cutting board or a sheet tray and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt.
In a bowl mix ricotta, lemon zest, egg, and chopped parsley, mint, oregano & thyme (or other herbs), and red pepper flakes until well combined. Salt and pepper to taste.
Lightly oil a lasagna pan and cover with a single layer of zucchini. Top the zucchini with a generous layer of the ricotta mixture.
Cover the ricotta with a single layer of eggplant. Top the eggplant with a generous layer of pesto. Repeat the layering steps alternating zucchini, ricotta, eggplant, pesto until you reach just below the lip of the pan.
Sprinkle grated mozzarella and/or parmesan over the top and cover the pan with foil making sure the foil is not resting directly on top of the cheese.
Bake covered for 25-30 minutes. Uncover the lasagna and bake another 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and brown. Zucchini and eggplant should be fully cooked but, in my opinion, still a bit firm.
Let rest uncovered for 10 minutes, slice, share, enjoy.
Health benefits of lemon balm & basil
Lemon balm is antibacterial and has been used topically to dress and heal wounds for centuries. When ingested it is said to help with digestion, relieve nausea, and help with troubles of the liver, spleen, kidneys and bladder.
Basil is a member of the mint family. It helps stimulate appetite and digestion and it is a tonic for frazzled nerves. It is a natural breath freshener and can help counteract flatulence, constipation, nausea, and stomach cramps. It is a mild antibacterial and anti fungal so the leaves can be used topically to alleviate itching skin and insect bites.
Bonus: They are both delicious!!!