We’re deep in the heart of summer here in Portland, and with all the hecticness of work, travel, and summer outings, I’ve been craving some major comfort food. This week it’s taken the form of this epic and delicious lasagna, which combines my love of sweet peppers, tomatoes, fresh basil, and cheese in one hot and delicious baked casserole dish. I already used up all the sauce I made and froze from my tomato harvest last summer, and since I like my sauce the Tuscan way (aka on the simple + fresh side), I used the new Bertolli® Rustic Cut Sweet Peppers and Portobello Mushroom Sauce because it has no artificial flavors, no artificial colors, and no added sugar—just delicious veggies that were made into sauce at their peak ripeness! The sauce I used contains hearty tomatoes, red and yellow peppers, Portobello mushrooms, carrots, celery, onions, garlic and basil- all ingredients I love! When it comes to tomato sauce, simple and rustic is definitely best. I always use jarred tomato sauces or my frozen ones in the fall, winter, and spring rather than making it fresh with the tomatoes at the supermarket, because the off-season fresh tomatoes tend to be hot house ones that have been raised with lots of pesticides and shipped in hard as a rock, with little to no flavor. Whereas the sauces in jars tend to be made when the tomatoes are actually ripe, in season, and full of their natural sugars and flavors. Seasonality FTW! Bertolli is my go-to for canned sauces because they’re made with large, crisp, rustic cut vegetables (i.e. big enough to bite into, taste individually and be able to tell what the vegetable actually is), so you don’t need to add additional seasoning, meat or vegetables.
To make this lasagna a little fancier in appearance, I just arranged some sliced tomatoes, whole cherry tomatoes, sliced bell peppers, burrata cheese, and little cherry-sized mozzarella balls on top. There’s really no pattern to it, and the more scattered everything is, the better it looks once it’s done baking, plus you get some more vibrant colors on top! This recipe makes about 12 pieces of lasagna, and since Jeremy and I are a 2-person household, I like to refrigerate the leftovers to solidify the lasagna, then cut it into individual serving slices, wrap each one in plastic wrap, transfer the individual servings into a gallon freezer bag, and store them in the freezer for a quick future homemade dinner. Easy peasy! Let me know in the comments if you try the recipe yourself, and don’t forget to check out the full collection of new Bertolli Rustic Cut sauces here. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
This post was sponsored by the kind foodies at Bertolli, but all opinions and thoughts expressed here are my own, per usual!
Easy Sweet Bell Pepper Lasagna
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion (finely chopped)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 24 ounces full fat ricotta
- 16 ounces full fat cottage cheese
- 1 cup shaved parmesan
- 1 egg (whisked)
- 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus 1/4 cup fresh whole basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon flake sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 12 lasagna noodles
- (3) 23 ounce jars of Bertolli® Rustic Cut Sweet Peppers and Portobello Mushroom Sauce
- 6 medium bell peppers, caps and seeds removed, cut vertically in half and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 2 medium tomatoes (thinly sliced)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 8 ounces burrata
- 6 ounces cherry-sized fresh mozzarella (ciliegine)
Heat the olive oil over medium low heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, transparent, and lightly golden around the edges, about 10 to 14 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Add the garlic and saute until garlic is softened, another 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, cottage cheese, parmesan, egg, basil, thyme, fennel, salt, pepper, and sautéed onion mixture.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and cook the lasagna noodles until flexible, about 8 minutes. Drain the noddles and rinse them with cold water. Need 4 per layer, so 12 noodles total.
Spread 1 1/2 cups of the Bertolli® Rustic Cut Sweet Peppers and Portobello Mushroom sauce on the bottom of a greased 14 by 10-inch and 3-inch deep casserole dish. Arrange 4 noodles lengthwise in a single even layer over the sauce. Spread with 2 cups of the ricotta mixture, then place some of the bell pepper pieces on top in 2 side-by-side rows of 10, then spoon and spread 2 cups of the Bertolli® Rustic Cut Sweet Peppers and Portobello Mushroom sauce over the pepper layer. Repeat the process twice more starting with the layer of cooked noodles, so that at the end you have three different noodle layers and a layer of sauce on top.
Arrange the sliced tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, remaining bell pepper pieces, burrata, and mozzarella over the top of the lasagna. Place the dish on a lipped baking sheet and bake in the oven until the sauce is bubbling around the side, the fresh tomatoes on top are slightly wrinkled and darkened, and the cheese is completely melted, about 60 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes before garnishing with the remaining 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves and serving.