Deconstructed Lasagna

It’s “meal-prep Sunday” and you’re trying to spend the day relaxing but you can’t seem to wrap your head around what you’re making for dinner this week. Pre-season sports begin, everyone needs to be somewhere by 6pm, and you’re lucky if you have a mere half hour to throw something healthy on the table; otherwise nobody is eating dinner until 8:30pm.

Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize. That’s a phrase I heard when I first started learning about plant-based nutrition and I think it should be one of the guiding principles in the way we shop for food. All too often as we peruse down the grocery store aisles we are bombarded with choices. Eastern medicine recognizes late summer as a time of “center” as the Earth Element influences two equinoxes and two solstices. Since the premise of plant-based nutrition is to heal with whole foods, I think it’s particularly easy to do at this time of year when food is in abundance. I highly recommend this simple yet bountiful recipe when you’re trying to find something that can be made ahead. It might surprise you how simple it can be to construct a healthy, vegetarian meal from just a few simple ingredients from your summer garden. If you didn’t plant a garden this year, you can easily find these ingredients at all of our local farmer’s markets and grocery stores this time of year. It’s the perfect time of year to test out the “meal-prep Sunday” and give “meatless Monday” a try.

This “deconstructed” lasagna is courtesy of my friend Nancy, a native of Berks County and a professionally trained chef who has lived abroad and been graced with over 30 years of cultural experiences cooking for the rich and famous. Her affinity for delicious ingredients and beautiful presentations is evident with every meal she prepares. Thank you, Nancy, for sharing this simple, yet magical recipe. It definitely allows my meal-prep Sunday to be just a little more relaxing during the summer months.

Lasagna noodles for layering
Pesto (buy prepared from Russos or see recipe that follows)
Fresh ricotta cheese (Russos)
Fresh grape tomatoes
Red bell pepper
Summer squash
Green and yellow beans
Fresh basil

Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions and blanch the vegetables. Slice the squash and bell pepper very thinly, and cut the beans and tomatoes in half. Begin layering with noodles, add a very minimal layer of pesto and then begin layering vegetables. Continue layering until noodles are all used up. Garnish with fresh basil and ricotta.

Fresh Basil Pesto
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 cups fresh basil leaves, pack it down tight
1/4 cup Parmesan-Reggiano
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted

For best results, use a high speed blender

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