I’m in the middle of this salad love affair thing at the moment.
I know. Odd.
But don’ freak out – I think you all know what kind of salads I like to eat. The vegetableless kind. Or the kind with the fewest vegetables possible. The kind with lots of cheese and chips and bacon and cheese. I have another one coming your way and, well… it feels like a copout but is just so darn good.
So it makes complete sense that I want something hearty and soul warming. Right? That’s how I’m justifying it. That’s how I’m justifying that I made freaking lasagna in the SUMMER. Time consuming, cheesy comfort food that takes an hour or more. In the summer.
I also made it because lasagna isn’t a frequent meal around here… whatsoever. If you’ve been reading along then you may know that italian food is my least favorite cuisine due to my lack of love for tomato sauce. And then there is this whole thing where my husband claimed that he hated ricotta cheese, blah blah blah, but over the last few years he’s accidentally eaten so much of it that the argument no longer stands.
Marriage secret: trick your spouse into eating things.
This might be the worst time ever to share lasagna, after all so many of my Junes have been consumed with graduation parties and the standard rigatoni, lasagna and fried chicken that I am over anything even remotely close to that. BUT! It may also be the best time. It works for Sunday dinners and you can even just prep a big pan and freeze some leftovers and have a meal in a minute. Or ten.
This big dish of love is made with whole wheat lasagna noodles, my favorite roasted grape tomatoes, tons of garlic and basil and oodles of cheese. We are talking, like – tons of cheese. Tons of different cheeses. It’s a total cheese fest.
Get on board.
Yield: makes one 9x13 dish
Total Time: 1.5 hours
4 pints grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 ounces mascarpone cheese
4 ounces freshly grated mozzarella cheese
4 ounces freshly grated provolone cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
12 ounces freshly grated fontina cheese, separated into 4 equal portions
1/2 cup freshly chopped basil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Add tomatoes to a nonstick baking sheet and toss with salt, pepper and olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are slightly bursting - yes, they will sort of burst even though they are cut in half. Once finished, remove and set aside until ready to use. I found it was easiest to "divide" them (with a spatula) into three equal portions on the baking sheet.
While tomatoes are roasting, prepare water for the lasagna noodles and boil according to directions - only halfway since they will cook in the oven.
Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat and add butter. Whisk in flour to create a roux, cooking for 1-2 minutes until golden. Add in milk and stir constantly until slightly thickened, then reduce heat to medium-low and add mascarpone, garlic, mozzarella and provolone. Continue to stir until cheese sauce is creamy and melty. Add in oregano, thyme, salt and pepper.
To assemble lasagna, place three noodles on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Cover in roasted tomatoes, a handful of basil, a handful of fontina cheese, then a few ladles of cheese sauce. Layer three more lasagna noodles on top. Repeat this two more times, finishing with four lasagna noodles on top. Cover those with remaining fontina and any extra cheese if it looks like it needs it. Ladle any extra sauce on top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until cheese on top is golden and bubbly. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving, so lasagna can kind of hold together.
[inspired by my white pizza dip]