When I first started gardening on my own last summer I had a hard time controlling the amount of plants I bought. I guess you could say I was in backyard space denial. When I arrived home with 24 tomato plants, not to mention celery, carrots, watermelon, cucumber, cantaloupe, peppers and string beans, my mom who volunteered to help, tried to help me come to terms with the fact that I had room for only about 1/4 of what I had bought. In my defense, as a new gardener, it was hard to understand how big these little itty bitty plants would get and would need to grow. This year I was a smarter shopper and I reduced what I bought and split my purchase with other gardeners. The only thing I bought in quantity was basil because I had a hard time finding bigger plants and ended up with a 12 pack of little basil sprouts. I planted them all, not wanting to waste them. Now they haunt me in my sleep. What can one do with so much basil? Needless to say I have been making A LOT of pesto. While making some pesto, tomato and fresh mozzarella panini for a party the other day, I realized I was going to have all 3 ingredients left over. I knew I had half a box of oven-ready lasagna noodles in the pantry and decided to throw caution to the wind and experiment! I added a splash of cream to the pesto, cooked up some of the tomatoes with capers and balsamic vinegar and layered the rest with fresh tomato and mozzarella. The result was quite nice.
Note: Oven ready lasagna noodles need a lot of moisture to cook through. Since this recipe has little sauce, it is important to use fresh juicy garden tomatoes and fresh mozzarella which has more moisture. Also make sure to keep the lasagna wrapped in foil for most of the cooking time.
Creamy Pesto Lasagna with Fresh Mozzarella and Garden Tomatoes
www.lessonsinfood.wordpress.com original recipe
yields : 1 large “loaf” to serve 2 ( for a larger traditional size 4x the recipe )
- 1/2 cup home-made pesto
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 giant ripe beefsteak or heirloom garden tomato (or two smaller ones)
- 10 ripe cherry tomatoes
- 1 tsp capers
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 6-8 slices fresh mozzarella
- half box of oven ready lasagna noodles
- salt and pepper
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a saucepan combine cherry tomatoes, capers and balsamic vinegar together and simmer over medium heat until tomatoes pop and begin to release their juices. Reduce and thicken for about 2-3 minutes.
Combine pesto and cream together in a bowl, season with salt and pepper.
Slice large tomato into about 6- 8 slices.
Spoon some of the reduced cherry tomato mixture on the bottom of a greased loaf pan, then top with a lasagna noodle. Spread pesto cream sauce over the entire noodle. Top that with two large slices of tomato and mozzarella and a little bit of the cherry tomato mixture. Repeat until ingredients are used up. Finish with the cheese on top.
Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove the foil and let the cheese brown on top for 15 minutes. Check to make sure the noodles have absorbed all the moisture from the pesto sauce, tomatoes and cheese, if they feel undercooked, continue cooking until tender. Shut the oven and let the lasagna rest in the warm oven for 20 minutes so it is easier to cut and it absorbs any remaining liquid.
Serve with fresh cherry tomato and basil salad.