It’s tomato time here in Seattle. Despite a late start and some serious coddling through a cold northwest June, our plants burgeoned into maturity in July and – after a long stretch of glorious weather through August – began yielding luscious red beauties a few weeks ago.
At Chez Bullhog, when our tomatoes are ripe we have a growing list of fresh tomato favorites that grace the table: bruschetta topped with diced tomato, garlic, basil and good olive oil; fresh tomato Pizza Margherita; and the ever-popular Fresh Tomato Lasagna.
Now there’s a new kid on the block. This No Noodle Lasagna – layers of sliced tomato, wilted spinach and fresh mozzarella baked with a parmesan béchamel topping – has tons of flavor with almost no carbs. As a side dish or as the main event, it’s a winner every time!
2 pounds of fresh tomatoes
12 ounces of fresh spinach
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
8 ounces of fresh mozzarella balls
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons of bread crumbs
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cups of parmesan béchamel sauce (recipe below)
Prepare the layer ingredients: Slice the tomatoes ¼ inch thick, discarding the ends and coring if necessary. Wash and drain the spinach. In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, toss in the garlic and then the spinach. Turn once, frying for about 3 minutes until most of it is wilted, and set aside. Take the mozzarella balls out of their liquid and slice thinly.
Assemble the layers: Butter the sides and bottom of an 8” x 8” pyrex pan and coat it with 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs. Put a quarter of the tomato slices on the bottom in an even layer and sprinkle with oregano. Top with 1/3 of the wilted spinach and 1/3 of the fresh mozzarella. Generously sprinkle with salt.
Continue building the layers the same way and finish with a final layer of tomato.
Make the béchamel: In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter until melted; mix in 2 tablespoons of flour. In 6 parts, add 1 1/3 cups of milk to the sauce, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Essential for smoothness is that each portion of milk heats and combines thoroughly with the sauce before proceeding to the next addition.
In a bowl large enough to hold all the sauce, whisk 2 eggs until frothy. Now add the hot white sauce to the egg in 6 portions, a little at a time, stirring constantly until all has been incorporated. Stir in ¼ cup of freshly grated Reggiano Parmesan.
Quickly pour the hot béchamel sauce over the tomato layers and spread it evenly before it has a chance to set. Sprinkle a little more parmesan on top if you like.
Bake and serve: Bake for 35 minutes in a preheated 375° oven until the top is lightly browned and the juice is bubbly.
Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Because the flavorful juice from the fresh tomatoes is sure to pool around the lasagna, it’s best to serve each portion on its own small plate.
Now raise a glass to fresh tomatoes at their finest. Yum!