When I think of summer cooking, I think baked cheesy lasagna and toasty meatball subs, don’t you? Okay, so maybe not, but they are Italian classics that I long to taste all year long, without the heavy lifting in the hot kitchen! And these days, when a craving strikes, I’m sent spinning on a mission to make it happen. So this week, I aimed to “summer”-fy two of my favorite dishes. Here are my summer-takes on Lasagna and Meatball Parm Subs.
Grilled Meatball Parmesan Subs
8 raw homemade Meatballs (This is usually my husbands job, he’ll never release the exact recipe but I’m sure it’s your basic combo of beef, veal, pork mix, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a touch of Italian seasoning. For recipes, check out any of the Food Network chefs basic recipes.)
2 cups of marinara (We usually make large batches and freeze in individual containers, but store bought works just as well!)
6-8 slices of mozzarella cheese
2 grinder rolls
Sear your meatballs in a drizzle of EVOO in a large pan pre-heated over medium-high heat. (Use an over safe pan and do it right on the grill!) You don’t need to cook them through, just brown the outsides a bit. Remove the pan from the grill. Transfer your meatballs straight to the grill. Cook through, about 15 minutes.
Toast your grinders slightly. Top with 4 meatballs each, marinara sauce, and mozzarella cheese. Leave subs on grill until cheese is melted and sauce is warmed. Enjoy!
Summer Squash Lasagna
9 cooked lasagna noodles
2 julienne-cut zucchini
2 julienne-cut yellow squash
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 cloves of chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups ricotta
1/4 cup water
16 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut in chunks
1/2 cup Parmesan
2 tomatoes sliced
Bechamel Sauce (recipe follows)
In EVOO over medium-high heat saute zucchini, squash, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper until soft. Let cool slightly.
Pulse the ricotta, water, mozzarella (saving 4 ounces to shred for the top of lasagna), Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a food processor until blended.
For the bechamel, warm 3 cups of milk in a sauce pan. In a separate pan, melt 4 TBS of butter over medium heat. Whisk in 3 TBS of flour, one at a time. Let the mixture bubble for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Slowly add the milk, one cup at a time, whisking constantly. Simmer the mixture until bubbling and thickened, whisking frequently, about 10 minutes. Whisk in a sprinkle of ground nutmeg and remove from the heat.
Layer your lasagna ingredients, starting with a coating of bechamel on the bottom of the dish to prevent sticking. Layer three noodles, half the squash mixture, 1/3 ricotta mixture, sliced tomato, 2 ladles of bechamel and then repeat, omitting the tomato on the second layer. End with a third layer of noodles and top with remaining bechamel. Sprinkle with dried oregano if desired. Bake at 375 degrees, covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for another 20 minutes. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese and broil until bubbly and brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
It’s always fun to experiment with classic dishes on the grill. Sometimes, it really works! The toasty grill flavor gives the meatballs a charred flavor that baking them just doesn’t get. And the mix of fresh, crisp summer vegetables like zucchini and squash topped with a sweet white bechamel instead of a heavier marinara meat sauce makes this lasagna a great warm weather alternative! Like I always say, nothing is too crazy to experiment with in the kitchen or, in this case, on the grill grates. Call it pregnancy cravings but next I’m on a mission to grill pasta! Details to come! Until then…
Stephanie a.k.a. The Foodetarian