Happy National Lasagna Day! I laugh that the holiday falls right in the middle of summer, when temperatures entice quite the opposite type of meal. I typically translate lasagna feasts with cozy winter nights by the fire with red wine and slow tuns. Summer, however, prompted me to lighten up our lasagna a bit — and I believe we delivered.
My version of lasagna brings colors and tastes of the summer season to the table, pairing perfectly with a glass of white and a light, lemony greens salad. Roasted corn, fresh basil pesto and shredded rotisserie chicken fold into our ricotta blend for a hearty yet seasonally-appropriate filling. The interactive roll-up process is a perfect step to get the kids or friends involved!
I also mastered a healthyish alfredo — no butter or cream required — that does the job for our lasagna base and topping.
Lessons learned: While the vertical method of placing swirl-side-up is more visually pleasing, the sides lose the chance for a true alfredo sauce simmer in the oven. If you aren’t in the mood for drier noodles, which can easily be resolved with extra sauce post-bake or a drizzle of pesto or olive oil, place your roll-ups horizontally in the baking dish!
16 lasagna noodles
1 15-ounce package ricotta cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil pesto
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
1 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
2 ears corn, kernels removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Salt + pepper
Fresh torn basil, to garnish
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup low-fat milk
3/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Salt + pepper
1. Prep your equipment: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare a baking sheet with 2-3 pieces of parchment paper for lasagna noodles, once cooked. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Finally, coat a baking dish with nonstick spray.
2. While water heats, prepare alfredo sauce. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high in a medium saucepan. Add garlic and stir, cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute. Using a whisk, stir in flour and cook for 1 minute (it will get clumpy — don’t worry!). Slowly pour in chicken broth, whisking vigorously to break down flour. Then, whisk in milk. Bring pot to a simmer and continue to whisk for another minute more as sauce thickens. Turn heat to medium-low, stir in cheese, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust accordingly. Stir occasionally until ready to use.
3. Cook lasagna noodles according to package instructions. Using tongs, remove each al dente noodle and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. This avoids any sticking!
4. While lasagna noodles cook or shortly after, heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add corn and cook, leaving untouched, to roast and cook through.
5. In a glass bowl, add chicken, ricotta, 1 cup of mozzarella, egg, spinach, pesto, and half of the roasted corn. Stir filling until well combined.
6. Pour 1 cup of alfredo sauce into the bottom of the baking dish. Spoon about 1/4 cup of filling onto each lasagna noodle, leaving at least 2 inches at the top for rolling ease. Roll, place in the baking dish, and repeat until dish is fully lined.
You can fit 15 vertically or 12 horizontally! The extra noodles are for in case one rips.
7. Then, cover roll-ups with remaining alfredo sauce, corn, and mozzarella cheese. Place a few torn basil leaves on top. Bake for 20 minutes, until corn further roasts and cheese bubbles. Garnish with more basil, if preferred.