Put Lasagna Bolognese on Your Summer Menu

Although July 29 holds the delicious distinction of being National Lasagna Day, I’ve always envisioned lasagna as more of a fall and winter dish, for those nights when you need a little pasta and cheese comfort to take the chill off. In the summer, I prefer my dishes lighter. Here’s a less-heavy take on lasagna Bolognese — perfect even during the peak of summer!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped carrot
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted tomato paste
  • 1 ounce diced pancetta
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (do not drain)
  • 1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 6 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 6 cooked lasagna noodles

Preparation

  1. Place onion, celery, carrots and garlic in a food processor; pulse until coarsely ground.
  2. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat.
  3. Add onion, celery, garlic to pan. Sweat ingredients for about 3 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
  4. Add tomato paste and pancetta; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  5. Add ground beef (or, for an even healthier option, ground turkey) and cook for 4 minutes, stirring to crumble.
  6. Add wine; cook for 2 minutes or until liquid evaporates, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.
  7. Add salt, red pepper and oregano to pan, and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Add milk and basil; cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes; reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.
  9. Preheat oven to 425°.
  10. Combine ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, and egg in a small bowl.
  11. Spread 3/4 cup beef mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9–inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over beef mixture; top with half of remaining beef mixture and half of ricotta mixture. Repeat layers once, ending with ricotta mixture. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella evenly over top. Bake at 425° for 35 minutes.
  12. Preheat broiler to high. (Keep lasagna in oven.)
  13. Broil lasagna for 2 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and sauce is bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

— P.J. Butland