Make-Ahead Summer Vegetable Lasagna

Before I jump right into the recipe, I have to tell you that these next several weeks are going to be pretty busy for me. If you’ve been checking out my posts, you know that I’m heading over to Rome and London next week. Yay! I’ve been writing lists and getting organized for the trip. I am seriously neurotic when it comes to packing luggage, and I am a total carry-on-only warrior. I’ve got my travel journal ready and all my TSA approved snacks and travel size organic toiletries. Anyway, since I’ve been planning everything right down to the smallest of details, I realized I’d forgotten one of the most important things to consider. After returning home from a long trip, the last thing you want to think about is grocery shopping and cooking. I needed to come up with a meal that I can take straight from the freezer and pop in the oven as soon as I set down my bags.

Because farmer’s markets and summer CSAs are in full swing, and because I have more summer squash than I know what to do with, I decided to make a Summer vegetable lasagna. Lasagna is one of my favorite meals, y’all, and this recipe is nothing short of amazing. The Béchamel sauce really makes every bite a cosmic experience. The best part is that you can make this ahead of time and then freeze portions for a quick, healthy, and oh so tasty meal when you return home from your own vacay. You must try this!!!

Summer Vegetable Lasagna

Ingredients

For the vegetable filling:

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 lb. (250 g) cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 yellow or green summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) dice
  • 3 jarred roasted red bell peppers, coarsely chopped
  • 1 can (28 oz./875 g) plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (1 oz./30 g) fresh basil leaves, minced
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the béchamel sauce

  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) (2 oz./60 g) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) whole milk
  • 3 cups (24 oz./750 g) ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 lb. (250 g) no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 3/4 lb. (12 oz./375 g) mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions

1. Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C).

2. To make the filling, in a 5-quart (5-l) Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Stir in the bell peppers, tomatoes, basil and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Clean the pot.

3. To make the béchamel sauce, in the same pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly stir in the milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer half of the sauce to a bowl. Spread the remaining sauce evenly on the bottom of the pot. In another bowl, stir together the ricotta, egg and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper.

4. Cover the sauce in the pot with a single layer of lasagna noodles, breaking them if needed to fit. Spread one-third of the ricotta mixture evenly on top, then one-third of the vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with one-fourth of the mozzarella. Repeat the layering 2 more times, starting with the noodles. Top with a final layer of noodles and the remaining béchamel sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella. Cover the pot with aluminum foil and bake until the noodles are tender, about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until the top is browned, about 15 minutes longer. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm. Serves 8 to 10.

***To freeze, cut it into individual portions. Wrap the portions in aluminum foil and when you’re ready to reheat, just pop them in the oven for about 45 minutes at 375°F.

Source: Williams Sonoma

Try This—Banana+Coconut+Cardamom Ice Cream

Banana, Coconut, Cardamom Ice Cream. A quick and simple banana based ice cream with a little bit of spice. This post first appeared last year and is still one of my favorite nice cream recipes!

I’m not sure if I could have told you what cardamom was good for if you had asked me a couple of weeks ago. It’s one of those spices that I have on the spice rack, but I never use. I spent a weekend at my bestie’s house and she spiked our morning coffee with a little bit of cardamom. I wasn’t really down with it, but I drank it anyway because coffee. To be fair, I’m not really that into flavored coffee (this iced coffee recipe is as close as I get), so it wasn’t the cardamom that threw me off. Maybe coffee and cardamom isn’t for me, but I could totally see myself combining it with something else. I started to think about recipes that might benefit from that distinct herbal, citrusy flavor. With Summer right around the corner, I decided to make some ice cream.

Dude. This may have been the best decision I’ve made in a while. Even though it was absolutely freezing in the city this weekend, this ice cream was so good that I turned the heat on, curled up with a chunky throw on the couch, watched some Netflix, and totally gorged myself on what was supposed to be enough ice cream for two servings. Don’t judge me, just try this!

Banana+Coconut+Cardamom Ice Cream

recipe from Chitra Agrawal’s Vibrant India

serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 tablespoons dried unsweetened shredded coconut, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom powder
  • 1 tablespoon bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (optional)
  • granulated brown sugar, for garnish
  • sliced almonds, for garnish

Directions

  • peel the bananas and cut them into 1/2-inch disks.  place in a glass bowl or freezer bag.  freeze the bananas for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
  • using a food processor, pulse the frozen banana pieces.  they will first get crumbly, then gooey, then look like oatmeal pieces, and then start to bunch on one side of the bowl.  scrape down the sides and keep pulsing through these stages.  eventually, the banana will become smooth and creamy resembling soft-serve ice cream.  pulse the processor until the mixture aerates and becomes somewhat fluffy, then mix in the coconut, cardamom powder, and chocolate chips.
  • you can the ice cream immediately; it will be like soft-serve ice cream, or transfer it to an airtight container and freeze until solid, like traditional ice cream.
  • serve with an optional healthy sprinkling of jaggery (find it here), sliced almonds, and more grated coconut on top.

Source: Dolly and Oatmeal via Chitra Agrawal’s cookbook, Vibrant India.

Try This—Blueberry, Avocado, and Chia Breakfast Pudding

Start your day off right with this super healthy blueberry, avocado, and chia breakfast pudding!

I’ve really been on my breakfast grind lately. I find that when I eat a nutrient dense breakfast it pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the day. I have more energy and come lunch and dinner time, I make better choices. I’m an oatmeal and smoothie warrior when it comes to breakfast. Oatmeal and smoothies check all the boxes for me. They’re the quickest, easiest, and most nutritious breakfast staples to make in the throes of a hectic morning. Anyway, I got to thinking how dope it would be to make a breakfast pudding, because, ya know, dessert for breakfast is always the goal. Turns out breakfast pudding is the dopest of dope especially when you combine the antioxidant power of blueberries with the superfood power of avocado and chia. You must try this!

Blueberry, Avocado, and Chia Breakfast Pudding

ingredients

makes 2 servings
one serving= 296 calories, 19 grams of fat, 34 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of protein
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 2 tbsp non dairy milk (I’ve been swimming in Oatly lately)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup, or honey
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground or whole chia seeds

directions

  • combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth
  • divide pudding into 2 small ramekins or cups
  • refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the chia to thicken before serving
  • enjoy!

Source: The Iron You

Spring to Summer Beauty DIYs

These DIY face masks are perfect for transitioning your skin from Spring to Summer!

Blackhead Buster

ingredients

  • 1/2 fresh lemon
  • 3-4 drops of raw honey

directions

  • mix the juice from half a lemon with 3-4 drops of raw honey
  • apply the mixture to your face
  • leave the mask on for about 5 minutes and rinse off with cold water

Brown Sugar Coconut Body Scrub

ingredients

  • 1 tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup sea salt
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, plus
  • 1 tbsp of your favorite essential oil

directions

  • Combine ingredients in a bowl until it forms a paste
  • Apply to moist skin in a circular motion using your fingertips to help get rid of dead skin cells
  • Rinse off with warm water

Honey & Oat Facial

ingredients

  • 2 tbsp natural yogurt
  • 1 tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tbsp dry oatmeal
  • 1 tbsp ground almonds
  • squeeze of lemon

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl to form the exfoliating facial scrub
  • Massage gently onto face, and rinse with warm water

Balancing Avocado Face Mask

ingredients

  • 3 tbsp green clay powder
  • 1 small avocado, mashed
  • 1⁄2 small cucumber, finely grated
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Directions

  • Combine ingredients in a small bowl
  • Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes
  • With clean, dry skin, apply a thick layer to your face and neck, avoiding the eye and lip areas
  • Leave for 10-15 minutes, and wipe skin clean with a damp cloth

Exfoliating Breakfast Mask

ingredients

  • 1 tbsp raw honey
  • 1⁄4 banana, mashed
  • 1 tbsp Greek yogurt

Directions

  • Combine ingredients in a bowl, and apply to face for 15-20 minutes
  • Rinse off with cool water, and pat dry face

Source: Coveteur

Try This— Sweet Potato Hummus

this sweet potato hummus recipe is the perfect Paleo addition to your summer menu!

Since Winter basically refused to end this year and all the farmers’ markets and farm shares are either opening late or decidedly scant because of it, I thought I’d try my hand at hacking my favorite summertime dip. Hummus is a staple in my house. We smear raw veggies with this creamy delicacy all summer long as a healthy snack and sometimes it even winds up replacing a meal all together because we just can’t stop eating it. This recipe comes from the appetizer menu of Miss Ada, a cute little Mediterranean restaurant on Dekalb Ave. a few blocks from where I went to High School (Brooklyn Technical High School). Chef Tomer Blechman brilliantly uses sweet potatoes as a base instead of chickpeas in this recipe, so it’s perfect for anyone on a Paleo diet, or anyone that wants to use their chickpeas for something more productive like these beauty recipes. Best part is that by using sweet potatoes, your adding a healthy dose of complex carbs and fiber, oh and it makes your finished hummus totally Instagrammable. Drop everything… You must try this!!!

Chef Tomer Blechman in the outdoor eating area of Miss Ada 184 Dekalb Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205

Sweet Potato Hummus

Ingredients

serves 6 people

  • 5 medium sweet potatoes
  • 5 garlic cloves,
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 1 cup smoked paprika
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp creme fraiche
  • 1 red onion, small diced
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • Baharat spice mix (1 Tbsp each of cinnamon, cardamom, and English pepper)
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a medium pot, boil sweet potatoes until tender.
  • Allow to cool. Add to a food processor and blend with garlic and tahini until smooth.
  • Make the paprika oil: In a medium saucepan over low heat, simmer paprika and canola oil for five minutes. Allow to stand for 20 minutes; strain into a squeeze bottle.
  • In a small bowl, combine creme fraiche and onion. Set aside.
  • On a baking sheet, spread almonds in an even layer. Toss with remaining canola oil and baharat spice mix. Bake for five minutes.
  • Scoop sweet potato mixture onto a plate. Create a nest and place creme fraiche in the middle. Add the almonds, paprika oil, and Aleppo pepper. Garnish with thinly sliced onion and parsley sprigs.
  • Serve with pita or sliced vegetables.