Lasagna is great for entertaining, because it can be made ahead and baked in the oven while you enjoy your guests.
The downsides are that most lasagnas are too heavy for the summer, require tons of work and have long baking times.
Here's a recipe for a tomato-basil lasagna that's different: It's quick, easy and delivers a fresh taste that's ideal for this time of year.
The recipe is based on a more elaborate one from Italian chef Marcella Hazan.
Her version calls for homemade spinach pasta, and if you like to make pasta from scratch, go ahead and use it in this recipe. I have found, however, that the no-cook lasagna noodles available in most supermarkets are a good substitute for fresh. The trick is to give them a soak in hot water rather than layering them dry, as the box dictates.
1 box (10 ounces) no-boil lasagna noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes, preferably petite diced, drained well
1 teaspoon finely chopped or pressed garlic
1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly torn into pieces
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
Set oven to 400 degrees. Fill a large baking dish with very hot water and add the lasagna noodles. Set aside for five minutes and then remove the noodles and drain on paper towels.
Meanwhile, combine the mozzarella, drained tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil and w cups of the grated Parmesan in a large bowl. Set aside.
Drizzle some olive oil in the bottom of a 9-by-12-inch baking dish. Line the bottom of the pan with some of the noodles and cover with a layer of the mozzarella mixture. Repeat layers until all noodles and filling are used, ending with a layer of pasta. Sprinkle the top with the remaining q cup of Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup of bread crumbs and drizzle with a little olive oil.
Bake, uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes, until bubbly and top is golden. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 6 servings.
See Karin prepare the recipe at noon Tuesday on television station WJBF (Channel 6). For more recipes, check out our recipe archive at recipes.augusta.com.