This morning I was innocently eating my breakfast and watching the news and was bombarded with a depressing story:  today is the first day of summer.

What?!  You mean I have been melting in 100-plus-degree weather all this time and it’s not even summer yet?  And…there is still three more months of this?  I give up…

So in celebration (or in resignation) to the season, I present my favorite lasagna recipe chock full of many of my favorite ingredients.  Tomatoes, pine nuts, pasta, garlic, nutmeg and, most importantly, goat cheese anyone?  Yes please!

Summer Vegetable and Goat Cheese Lasagna

Serves 6-8

Adapted from Peace Meals by The Junior League of Houston

9 oz fresh baby spinach

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional if needed

2 shallots, diced

3/4 cup pine nuts

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

2 teaspoons nutmeg

Salt and pepper

8 oz part-skim ricotta cheese

8 oz goat cheese

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

2 24-oz jars of your favorite pasta sauce

9-12 no-boil lasagna noodles

1 large zucchini, thinly sliced into rounds

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Blanch the spinach in boiling water until wilted; remove to a colander and rinse with cold water.  Press out the water and blot with a paper towel.  Lightly oil the botoom of a 9 by 13-inch baking dish; set aside. In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and saute shallots, pine nuts, and garlic for 3-5 minutes, adding additional olive oil to keep the ingredients moist while cooking.  Add the spinach, tomatoes, and nutmeg.  Season with salt and pepper, and continue to saute for another 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a bowl, stir together the ricotta and goat cheese; add the parsley and basil.  To assemble the lasagna, put a very thin layer of the pasta sauce on the bottom of the prepared dish.  Next, layer 3 or 4 of the lasagna noodles, half of the spinach mixture, half of the cheese mixture, half of the zucchini and top with a layer of sauce.  Repeat the layering, beginning with another layer of lasagna noodles.  Finish with a layer of lasagna noodles topped with remaining sauce.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over lasagna.  Bake for 45 to 55 minutes.  If necessary, cover the lasagna with foil to prevent too much browning.  Allow lasagna to rest for 10 minutes.

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