I’m still seeing summer squash at the market, so I wanted to squeeze this gem of a dinner in before everything turns to pumpkins and spice.

When making a classic lasagna, usually I make two sauces, tomato and a bechamel (one of the French mother sauces consisting of butter, flour and milk) or sometimes Mornay sauce, which is simply bechamel enriched with cheese. Because I was already venturing into the wild by substituting the noodles for caramelized slabs of zucchini, it didn’t feel like it was too much of a stretch to skip the two sauces and instead make a single creamy tomato sauce spiked with cooked ground beef, fire-roasted poblano and a hint of nutmeg.

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Everything about putting this lasagna together feels a bit faster and easier. Instead of seasoning the ricotta cheese with herbs and spices, this time I just scooped it straight out of the tub after draining excess water and left the job of seasoning to the sauce. You’ll also notice we don’t fuss with trying to make the zucchini take on the thin shape of noodles. When the zucchini is allowed to stay a little thicker, not only does it caramelize well in the pan, once it’s cooked it slices like silk and adds a luscious bite of zucchini flavor and texture instead of getting lost in the rich delights of a hearty sauce and cheese.

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