Well, here’s another (temporarily) picture-free post, as I appear to have lost the photos of this lasagna. I’d almost suspect Sean of absconding with them (since it means I’ll have to make this again soon to take pictures), but he would just ‘fess up if he had, so I know he hasn’t :D. Suffice it to say that a square of this lasagna is actually quite pretty, with the green, white and red layers. It’s also very tasty. I once had a guest I served it to go off in rapturous praise for several minutes (no, I’m not exaggerating!), ending with the compliment “You could serve this in a fancy restaurant!” I happen to agree with him, and so does Sean: this is a delicious dish. As implied, I often serve it to guests as it is filling and delicious enough that they don’t miss the meat sauce that American “lasagna” (the Italians make it much better in my opinion) is usually made with.

I am including the recipe for homemade pesto here (if you have a food processor it is really quite easy), but you can substitute store-bought to speed this up. Alternately, though it will discolor a little, you can freeze homemade pesto and then have it to use whenever you want, though you have to remember to thaw it ahead of time on the counter or in the fridge, as it does not work to microwave it (cheese melts, oils get weird … yeah, don’t do it).

Jocelyn’s Pesto Lasagna


  • 1 batch simple red sauce
    • 1 24-32 oz. can diced tomatoes (I usually use petite diced, but as you’ll be blending it this time it doesn’t matter. It might if you use this sauce for different dishes)
    • 2 TBS or so of olive oil (honestly,  I don’t measure, I just put enough in the pan to sautee the onions in)
    • 1 large onion, diced
    • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 batch basic pesto
    • 2 cups basil leaves, packed down some (not “loose cups”)
    • 1/4 cup italian flat leaf parsley
    • 3 garlic cloves (large)
    • ½ cup pine nuts
    • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
    • 1/3 cup olive oil (up to ½ cup if necessary)
  • 12 uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 1 ½ cups ricotta
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella
  • 2 cups shredded Parmesan (if you can get block and grate it yourself it’s really nice, but the pregrated stuff works fine too)


1. Make your sauces. The directions for both are below. As I mention, you can sub in premade pesto, though IMO it isn’t quite as good. I recommend against using store bought red sauce, though, as that really isn’t the same flavor as this at all and this red sauce is really really really really easy.

1A. Basic Red Sauce

a. Put a frying pan over medium to medium high heat and put in the olive oil. When the oil is heated, add the diced onion and cook a few minutes, until the onion softens.

b. Add the chopped tomatoes, undrained or lightly drained if there seems to be really a lot of liquid in this particular can of tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, over medium heat until the tomatoes begin to break down a little and enough liquid has cooked out that the sauce has thickened some. This is usually 10-15 minutes, though it can be less if there isn’t as much liquid, they’re very soft tomatoes, etc.

c. Let the sauce cool some, though it doesn’t have to be all the way cool. Use an immersion blender, stand blender, or food processor and process the sauce until it is kinda smooth. This means the tomato chunks are no more, but you may well still have chopped onion visible. Mostly, it needs to be smooth enough to spread easily and evenly in the lasagna.

1B. Basic Pesto

a. In a food processor, chop the basil, parsley, garlic and pine nuts until very finely minced.

b. Add the parmesan cheese and run the food processor to blend it in.

c. With the food processor running, drizzle the oil through the feed tube until you get a nice pesto consistency (that is, pretty thick but easily spreadable). This is usually about 1/3 cup olive oil, but sometimes I need as little as 1/4 cup or as much as 1/2 (but that’s pretty unusual).

2. Now that your sauces are made (or while you’re making them, if you’re good at multitasking), put your water on to boil and boil the lasagna noodles for about 2 minutes less than the package directions. You want them to be just slightly underdone so that when the lasagna bakes they don’t get gooshy, but just get tastily finished. Drain and rinse with cold water, so that they don’t stick together too badly. If your timing is a bit off and the noodles are going to have to sit while you finish up sauces, pull them out of strainer and lay them over the edges, flatish, so they don’t stick to each other or themselves and become hard to work with.

3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil a 9 x 13 casserole dish (a rectangular one, not an “about this size but oval or round one” as that won’t work worth spit with noodles to layer!) and put a few spoonfuls of red sauce the bottom and spread it around.

4. Put three noodles across in a single layer on top of this. Spread 1/4 of the ricotta cheese as evenly as you can on the noodles, followed by half of the pesto, followed by 1/4 of the mozzarella and parmesan, respectively. Sprinkle in a little s&p if you’d like.

5. Lay down another layer of three noodles. Spread the ricotta as before, but this time follow with half the remaining red sauce, then 1/4 of the mozzarella and parmesan and some s&p if desired.

6. Repeat step 4, then step five.  Put a little extra parmesan on top, if you’d like. Put the lasagna in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until everything is bubbly and melted and the top is just barely beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and let sit at least 10 minutes (so that it cools enough to serve well and won’t burn your mouth!) though it can sit a while longer, so long as it is still nicely warm when served. Enjoy!