Pesto Lasagna

“That smells amazing… I wasn’t hungry until now… Hands off… I was just sampling the edges..." These are the phrases that fill my home as we all breathe in the delicious aroma coming from the freshly baked Pesto Zucchini Lasagna.  Thin sheets of hand rolled noodles layered between sautéed zucchini, pesto made from the basil grown in the back yard, and creamy béchamel come together to make one of Gregorio and my favorite family meals. Whenever we make this together we can’t carry it to the table fast enough.  The edges are always “cleaned” by the time our family sits down for dinner.

RECIPE SERVES 12

Ingredients for Pasta

  • 2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • pasta maker - * if you do not have a pasta maker you can buy hand made lasagna noodles in the frozen section of most grocery stores.  

Directions for Pasta

  • Mound flour and create a well in the center to create a volcano-like structure.  Crack the 4 eggs into the center of the “volcano” and mix ingredients until the eggs are fully incorporated into the dough. 
  • Knead for 5 minutes and then let rest under a clean towel for 20 minutes.
  • Cut dough into 6 pieces, keeping the remaining pieces covered by the cloth.
  • Feed the dough through your pasta maker's widest setting. 
  • Turn the dial one setting back (to make more narrow). Pass dough through, supporting it with your hands.
  • Continue to roll dough through the pasta maker, progressing to the second-to-last narrowness setting on your machine.
  • Dust the sheets with flour and cut into long lasagna noodle strips, 4 inch wide by 13 inch long strips.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt the water, and cook one strip of noodle at a time until they float to the surface delicately removing them and placing them on a parchment lined baking sheet until you are ready to use.

Ingredients for Pesto

  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ cup pistachios
  • 4 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 6 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Directions for Pesto

  • Add the walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios into your food processor and blend until finely chopped. 
  • Add the basil leaves and salt, then process while drizzling in the extra virgin olive oil until a smooth puree forms (about a minute of blending).

Ingredients for Béchamel

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Directions for Béchamel

  • Melt butter in a medium sauce pan, add flour and stir until smooth. 
  • Cook mixture, stirring constantly, until the flour and butter combination turns a very light, sandy color (about 5 minutes).  
  • At the same time, heat the milk in a separate saucepan until it starts to steam.  Add the milk slowly to the flour and butter mixture, whisking constantly to form a smooth sauce. 
  • Continue to cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly and season to taste with salt and nutmeg. 

Ingredients for Zucchini

  • 3 medium-sized zucchini (about 8 inches long)
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions for Zucchini

  • Heat garlic and olive oil in a medium sauce pan until the aroma of the garlic fills the kitchen (about 2 minutes).
  • Add diced yellow onion to the pan and cook until the onions are translucent (about 3 minutes)
  • Add circular slices of zucchini to pan and cook until soft. (about 5 minutes). 
  • Add salt to taste.

Ingredients for assembling the Lasagna

  • 1 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
  • lasagna pan about 14"Wx10"Dx3”H 

Directions to assemble and bake the Lasagna

  • Spread the béchamel 1/4 inch thick on the bottom of a rectangular pan.
  • Next, spread a layer of fresh lasagna noodles covering the bottom of the pan so you can no longer see the béchamel.
  • Spread a layer of pesto 1/4 inch thick over the lasagna noodles.
  • Layer half of the sautéed zucchini and onions over the pesto.
  • Repeat steps 1 through 4 and then finish with all the remaining Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
  • Cook in the oven at 350 degrees for 20/25 minutes covered and then 10 minutes uncovered until the top is golden brown.
  • Let the lasagna rest for 10 minutes before serving.  You can easily cook this a day in advance, and then reheat before you serve.  It really only gets better!

Please like and share your comments if you enjoy this recipe.  I hope its aroma fills your home soon!