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Summer Lasagna with Burrata and Pesto

Summer Lasagna

One of the downsides of living in Muskoka is that some great ingredients are just not available. But rather than do without, I’ve just learned to adapt. Every time I take a trip to Toronto, I make a couple stops on the way home. One is to Grande Cheese (web site currently under construction), where I stock up on Italian ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes, pizza sauce, balsamic, olive oil, arborio rice, prosciutto and pancetta and of course, cheese. I’ll also make a stop at Quality Cheese, just down the road where I’ll pick up some burrata and buffalo mozzarella cheese. (Both stores just west of the 400 at Hwy. 7)

A delicious light lasagna recipe, perfect for summer. With tomatoes, pesto and burrata cheese.

When I get home with a fresh container or two of burrata, beyond some slices with fresh field tomatoes, it is this dish that I anxiously anticipate. It’s possibly my very favourite pasta dish. I call it summer lasagna, because it is lighter and fresher than the typical lasagna. That said though, this is a dish that could be enjoyed any time of year as an main or in smaller portions as a pasta course when entertaining.

In the summer months when the kitchen gets hot and my energy for cooking diminishes, I will sometimes cheat with store-bought pesto, canned San Marzano tomatoes and/or pre-made or dried lasagna noodles. Other times, I’ll make some or all of it from scratch. I can tell you this though … either way it’s a really fabulous dish! If you opt for store-bought, look for the best tomatoes, pasta and pesto you can find. If burrata cheese is just not available, buffalo or fresh mozzarella would be a good substitution.

Summer Lasagna with Tomato, Burrata and Pesto
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This is a lighter, summer version of the classic lasagna. I'm detailing the recipe here to make each ingredient from scratch. If time is tight (or your kitchen is too hot to cook), you can substitute store-bought pasta and pesto if your prefer. If good tomatoes are not available, I find good quality, whole, canned tomatoes a better option. For canned tomatoes, use the tomatoes only (not the juice) and break up with a spoon.
Recipe type: Main Courses
Serves: 4

  • To make the pasta: (or use ready-made fresh lasagna noodles, dried lasagna noodles or just use your regular pasta recipe)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt

  • To make the pesto: (or use store-bought)
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese plus more for lasagnette
  • 2 walnut halves
  • 1 teaspoon pine nuts
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • To make the tomato sauce: (or replace the fresh tomatoes with tomatoes from 1 28-oz can San Marzano whole tomatoes, without the juice and breaking up the whole tomatoes with spoon in pan)
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 4 vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste, preferably double concentrated
  • 8 fresh basil leaves

  • To assemble:
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 8 ounces burrata cheese or fresh water-packed mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  1. To make the pasta: In a small bowl, mound up the flour and form a well in the centre. Add egg, oil and a pinch salt to the well. Using a fork, gently break up the yolk and slowly incorporate flour from the outside into the egg. Continue until all liquid is absorbed, then transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until the dough forms a ball that is neither sticky or crumbly, adding more flour as necessary. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. To make the pesto: Fill a small bowl with ice water. Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Add basil leaves for 15 to 20 seconds then, using a slotted spoon, transfer leaves to ice water. Let sit 1 minute, then drain and squeeze water from leaves.
  3. In a blender or food processor, puree the basil leaves, oil, cheese, walnuts, pine nuts, garlic and generous pinch salt and pepper until smooth. Transfer pesto to a small bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent discoloration. Refrigerate until needed.
  4. To make the tomato sauce: Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop tomatoes into water and boil 20 seconds; drain, peel, seed and cut into 1-inch pieces. (*If using canned tomatoes, remove whole tomatoes from can and set aside, discarding juice or reserving for another use)
  5. Heat oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and generous pinch salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, basil leaves and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, the reduce heat to low and allow to simmer until sauce is reduced and thickened, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat, taste and season with salt and pepper as needed..
  6. To assemble: Cut pasta dough into 2 pieces; rewrap one. Flatten dough so that it will fit through the rollers of a hand-cranked pasta machine. Set rollers of pasta machine at the widest setting, then feed pasta through rollers 3 or 4 times, folding and turning pasta until it is smooth and the width of the machine.
  7. Roll pasta through machine, decreasing the setting one notch at a time (do not fold or turn pasta), until sheet is about 16 x 5 inches (if dough feels wet, dust with flour). Cut pasta into 4 (4-inch) squares; discard scraps. Lay squares 1/2 inch apart on a dry baking sheet and cover with a clean dish towel. Repeat with remaining dough.
  8. Pre-heat oven to 450°.
  9. Fill a medium bowl with ice water. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add 1 teaspoon oil and 4 pasta squares; cook for 2 to 3 minutes after water returns to boil (6-7 minutes if using dried lasagna noodles). Using a slotted spoon, transfer pasta to ice water, then to a large plate. Repeat with remaining squares.
  10. Pat pasta dry. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with oil. Put 4 pasta squares onto baking sheet. Dollop half of tomato sauce onto squares. Dot with half of burrata. Dollop 1 teaspoon pesto on top of each square, then sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and pinch salt and pepper. Top with remaining pasta squares.
  11. Drizzle lasagnette with melted butter and a touch of oil (you will have leftover ingredients) and bake until edges are lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Transfer to serving plates. Top with remaining tomato sauce, burrata and a drizzle of pesto (reserve leftover pesto for another use); garnish with basil leaves. Serve immediately.
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I love hearing from you, so if you have a question or something isn't quite clear, I'm happy to help. If you made this recipe, I'd love to know how you liked it ~ Jennifer

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