I have many, many wonderful memories of being in the kitchen as a child. Among them? Watching my grandmother assemble lasagnas at the kitchen counter. She would boil the long, curly-edged noodles, cube blocks of mozzarella (even when shredded cheese grew popular, she stuck to the cubes), prepare the ricotta mixture ... all of it. Then she would layer it all, telling me about each step as she went.
Naturally, when I started cooking (as in seriously cooking ... instead of dabbling), lasagna was one of the first foods I made.
What I love about making lasagna is that it's a pretty universal food ... I can make a tasty spinach lasagna pretty quickly when my vegetarian and semi-vegetarian friends visit, or I can make a beefy one in a pinch to eat for most of a week. Sometimes, I throw in some sausage too and it's totally YUM!
But mostly, I reserve lasagna for wintertime. It's usually a pretty heavy food, which seems more fitting for chilly nights than sunny, warm days. But lately, I have been thinking about ways to make this wintery dish a little more appropriate for summertime ... my solution? No-bake lasagna ...
My no-bake lasagna uses simple ingredients and minimal cooking. You start with cooked lasagna noodles (yes, you have to do the cooking!) and a few tasty fillings. Then you assemble the lasagnas in miniature form and cook them on the grill for just 10 minutes. Finally, you cool them and serve.
Easy, easy, easy!
My husband adores my Grilled Sausage Lasagna, which is filled with Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage, ricotta, marinara and mozzarella. It does take time to prepare, but it cooks so fast. The best way to tackle this one is to prepare the lasagnas ahead of time and then just pull them out to grill until they are hot and bubbly.
My favorite version of no-bake lasagna is Grilled Caprese Lasagna. It's a lighter version, filled with pesto, mozzarella and tomatoes. Serve it with a big green salad and crusty bread for a perfect meal. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
Of course, if you are looking for something more traditional, then the Italian Classic Lasagna is good too.
Sarah W. Caron (aka scaron) is a food writer, editor and blogger who writes about family-friendly foods and raising a healthy family at Sarah's Cucina Bella.