My children have been participating in the library’s Summer reading program and like years past, they have to read so many books to receive a prize. But this year they also added an additional program–one to get kids active. For this challenge they have to do things like play soccer, go swimming, check out a book about healthy eating, or one of my personal favorites–visit the farmer’s market. I absolutely love that the library is helping take part in encouraging kids to eat fresh, local food and be physically active.
And like just about every other child I know, my kids had to check off each item on their to-do list to claim their prize. While visiting the farmer’s market is nothing new to them, they both took this visit a bit more seriously. My daughter eyed an eggplant due to it’s purple color. And my son wanted to choose some zucchini, in hopes that I would make Zucchini Bread Pancakes–which of course I did.
My over zealous children picked out more fresh produce than we could possibly eat and therefore we were left that particular trip to the farmer’s market with an abundance of eggplant and zucchini. In my book, that is NEVER a bad thing. But sometimes convincing my kiddos to eat eggplant and zucchini can take some craftiness on my part. So I decided to sell it with cheese. I told them we could create a lasagna that would be layered with ravioli stuffing and cheese and tomato sauce, they wouldn’t even realize how many veggies they were eating.
The kids were convinced to give it a go. So we sliced up our farmers market bounty thinly (you can use ANYTHING you have–yellow squash, sweet potatoes, peppers, etc) and tossed them with pesto and then lightly grilled them to achieve a smokey depth of flavor to the veggies. You can skip the grilling of the veggies, but it really takes the dish up a notch.
Next it was a simple as mixing up ricotta cheese with some herbs and layering away. For this version, I skipped the noodles–leaving more room to consume more veggies (and cheese of course!) And then I topped the whole dish with freshly sliced tomatoes and mozzarella and baked.
I LOVED this dish. The smokiness of the grilled vegetables paired nicely with the fresh tang of the pesto and the ricotta gave this dish a rich, luxurious taste. My kids? They ate one serving. They didn’t rave about it but they didn’t gag either. For a dish so heavy on vegetables, I am satisfied with that. And the best part was that they wouldn’t fight me for the leftovers, which I helped myself to for lunch the next day.
This is a great gluten-free or low carb option for anyone out there who wants to enjoy lasagna. It is also a great way to use up that fresh summer produce. Or just to make me happy–because this is a dish I could eat any day!
- 1 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise into ½ inch thick strips
- 1 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise into ½ inch thick strips
- ¼ cup pesto (or if you don't have pesto--olive oil will work)
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup mozzarella, shredded
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 large tomato
- 1 cup homemade tomato sauce, or your favorite jarred brand
- ½ pound sliced fresh mozzarella
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Prehea grill to medium heat. Also preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Brush the vegetables with the pesto (Or olive oil and salt and pepper) on both sides. Grill for 2 minutes per side and remove.
- Mix together the ricotta, eggs, shredded mozzarella, salt, oregano, and nutmeg.
- Ladle ½ cup tomato sauce on bottom of 9x13 dish. Lay down a layer of eggplant. Top with ½ the ricotta mixture and top with the zucchini slices. Top with the remaining ricotta mixture, followed by the final layer of eggplant.
- Top with the remaining tomato sauce. Lay the tomato and fresh mozzarella slices over the top and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
- Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake additional 15 minutes.
- Let sit 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving.
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