22 August 2011

Eats: grilled vegetable lasagna

Last Monday I whined that Mr. P has gone back to school. It’s true. They’re already six and a half days into the school year. And there is football on television! I love football, I really do, but this is the first year I can remember that I’m really, truly not ready for it. Football means fall, and I am just not done with summer. So many people love fall and go on and on about their pumpkins and cinnamon and crunchy leaves and how they can’t wait for summer to just be over already, but I am not one of them. Fall is the foreboding prelude to winter, which is COLD and DARK. So I’m clinging to summer with all my white-knuckled might.

Evidence: summer vegetables! What? They are still inexpensive at the grocery. Inexpensive vegetables means SUMMER and a refusal to acknowledge that the COLD DARK season is approaching.

But here’s the thing. I don’t exactly love vegetables, and yet every summer I do this. I get the idea that just because they’re in season, we need to be eating vegetables! They are in season, and that season is summer, and therefore one eggplant and two zucchini, please!

You know what else is summery? Grilling! We shall slice these up and grill them!

I used the same approach to vegetables here that I did with the spinach gnocchi: when in doubt, turn it into Italian food and it will inevitably be delicious, right? So I chose to use these veggies in a vegetarian lasagna – which would be our meatless meal for the week.

Before grilling, I sweated (sweat? swate?) the zucchini and eggplant, as demonstrated here, and then I marinated the slices in Italian dressing.

And by “marinating” I mean I poured some dressing over them, squished them around a bit, and then politely asked Mr. P if he was doing anything and, if not, could he kindly grill these for me? As he was not particularly busy, the veggie slices marinated for all of five minutes before Mr. P headed to the grill.

This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite perks to being married. I cannot grill. I am actually quite afraid of the grill (perhaps we should rename this blog The Redheaded Stepchild’s List of Semi-Irrational Fears). Plus if I go outside for literally one minute to help Mr. P load the veggies on the grill, this happens to me:

Four mosquito bites on one leg. The other had five. My arm got two. On Mr. P? None. But I’m not complaining, because mosquitoes mean IT IS STILL SUMMER.

Anyway. With me safely inside, away from the gas grill and mosquitoes and other undeniable evidence that it is the BRIGHT WARM ANTITHESIS TO WINTER, Mr. P finished grilling the veggies over medium heat for about 15 minutes (turning once, halfway through).

I mean, gorgeous, right? Man’s got talent.

Then it was time to assemble the lasagna! For the sauce, I used some of my homemade pizza sauce (two portions, or two-thirds of this recipe), but you could use jarred spaghetti sauce if you, too, are grilling vegetables in stubborn insistence that summer is not yet over.

For the cheesy, i.e. best part, I mixed up 16 ounces of ricotta cheese, a heaping spoonful of minced garlic (equal to a few cloves), a tablespoon or so of Italian seasoning, and a handful of shredded mozzarella. It could have also used an egg to hold it together a little better during baking, but I didn’t have one.

Then: layering time! I greased the pan as always and started with spreading tomato sauce on the bottom. After that came veggies and half the ricotta mixture.

Then I repeated the layers, finishing with sauce and shredded mozzarella. Because what’s a recipe without shredded cheese topping? Perhaps we should instead go with The Redheaded Stepchild’s List of Foods to Cover with Cheese.

Then I baked for about 30 minutes at 350, until all heated through, with melty cheese on top.

And the verdict? Wellll... well. Remember how I mentioned at the beginning that I am just not so much into vegetables? And how I buy them not because we like them, but because we should and they are in season? That’s basically the reason we didn’t finish these leftovers and they are still sitting in the fridge, waiting to be thrown out. Sure, we ate most of it, but when it came to leftovers or a peanut butter sandwich, we chose the sandwich. I took the leftovers to work for lunch once and found myself eating everything but the eggplant. We probably would have liked it more if I’d breaded the vegetables, a la my favorite eggplant lasagna at a local restaurant, but grilled just didn’t do it for me – not because we did a bad job grilling (it was perfect, if I do say so myself), but just because we really don’t care for eggplant that much. If you actually truly like eggplant? This is perfect! If you don’t? Ehh.

So, unlike the spinach gnocchi, my grand plan failed. Italian food can’t make me like all vegetables. But? Vegetables can let me bask in summertime just a little bit longer, and that is almost, almost a good enough reason to make this anyway.


Shanna said...

I agree with you on the eggplant.. I've just never acquired a taste for it. It has to be hidden very well in a recipe for me to eat it. Kinda like venison. If it's in there, DON'T TELL ME!