As soon as we get warm weather, I begin to rely heavily upon my grill for easy, healthy dinners. Of course, I make your normal things like grilled chicken and turkey burgers, but I also try to get a bit inventive. This recipe came about ages ago, back when my husband and I lived in Providence, Rhode Island. We lived in this awesome little neighborhood, with a farmer’s market up the street every weekend morning. Back then, with no kids and no major weekend commitments, we’d sleep in, stroll to our favorite breakfast spot, swing by Federal Hill to pick up fresh pasta, and maybe a nice bottle of wine. On the way home, we’d stop at the Farmer’s Market. One day, I overbought on the vegetables, coming home with more eggplant, zucchini, and peppers than we could feasibly use as side dishes.
Feeling motivated, and perhaps inspired by the smells of Italian food on Federal Hill, I came up with this recipe. It’s pretty easy, incredibly healthy, and totally delicious. While I won’t tell you that it’s just as good as real lasagna– with it layers of noodles and cheese– I can say it will satisfy your lasagna craving but not weigh you down. I like to grill the vegetables and compose the lasagna while the kids are in school, then pop it in the oven for a few minutes when I am ready to serve it. I use eggplant, zucchini, red pepper and cherry tomatoes here, but yellow and orange peppers would work as would portobello mushrooms. If you don’t have time to make your own sauce, no worries. Just buy your favorite jarred sauce; I like our local Italian butcher’s marinara (if you’re near Union County NJ, check out Perrotti’s!) or Rao’s marinara in a pinch. I use small balls of fresh mozzarella, bocconcini, here. But, you could just easily slice regular sized fresh mozzarella. I also use pecorino cheese here, but you could use any grated cheese you have on hand. This is a lasagna you can feel good about eating, which for me makes it easier to enjoy. I hope you do, too!
What You’ll Need:
- 1 medium eggplant, sliced thinly lengthwise
- 3 medium zucchini, sliced thinly lengthwise
- 1 large red pepper, sliced into large strips
- 1 container of bocconcini halved or about 1/2 lb. of fresh mozzarella sliced
- 1/2 cup of grated cheese (pecorino or parmigiano)
- About 2 cups of marinara sauce
- A handful of grape tomatoes, halved
- A handful of basil leaves, sliced thinly
- Olive oil
- garlic powder
- red pepper flakes
What To Do:
- Heat grill. While grill heats up, brush both sides of the vegetable slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Grill the vegetables until they begin to brown. About 5 minutes per side but keep an eye on them.
- Once the vegetables have all been grilled, allow them to come to room temperature so you can handle them.
- In a small square baking dish, begin to compose your “lasagna” by layering a layer of vegetable (eggplant) followed by sauce and both kinds of cheese followed by the next vegetable (zucchini) followed by sauce and both kids of cheese. Do this until you have used up all of the grilled vegetables. Finish the top layer with sauce, the cheeses, and the sliced cherry tomatoes.
- When almost ready to serve, preheat your oven to 450. Once hot, place the baking dish in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and the tomatoes are softened. Take it out of the oven and garnish with basil and a drizzle of fruit olive oil. I like to serve this alongside a green salad.