May 28, 2020

Lasagna with Asparagus 

Recipe:

Although lasagna has its original birth in the region of Emilia Romagna, it has certainly become one of the classic, international symbols of the Mediterranean peninsula called Italy.  This dish has evolved from the classic Lasagne alla Bolognese layered with a luscious bechamel, into limitless variations and possibilities.  From vegetarian, to rich meat based sauces, this dish is now loved around the entire globe.  Lasagna sheets can of course be made from scratch, but when you are in the mood for this delicious classic, nothing is easier and quicker than the Oven Ready Lasagne sheets made by the Italian company Barilla. (not sponsored).  As no boiling of the Oven Ready Lasagne sheets is necessary, the task of preparation will be minimized to a quick assembly.  This recipe was developed by our friend, and Executive Chef for Barilla USA.  Make sure to follow him on Instagram for countless pasta recipes.  Let's get started!

Supplies:

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Oven Ready Lasagne by Barilla 
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 900 grams asparagus - about 2 bunches
  • 1 shallot finely minced
  • 200 grams Parmigiano Reggiano 

 For the Béchamel:

  • 120 grams butter
  • 90 grams All Purpose flour
  • 1.5 liter whole milk (when weighing 1 kg and 500 grams)
  • 1/8th teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt to taste
  • White pepper to taste

For garnish:

  • Parsley or thyme (we chose to use thyme)
  • 1 hard boiled egg yolk 
  • Salt 
  • White pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped chives or thyme
  • Some asparagus tips reserved on the side, already cooked

Directions:

  1. Preheat the The Marinara Pizza Oven to 400°F - 200°C.
  2. Simmer the milk in a pan. 
  3. Peel and slice the clean asparagus.  Cut each into small diagonal strips reserving some of the tips to use for garnish. 
  4. In order to avoid waist place the peeling of the asparagus in the simmering milk to infuse additional flavor to the béchamel.  **In order not to waste one can boil the asparagus peels in vegetable broth or chicken broth, add some sautéed onions and a splash of heavy cream. With the help of an immersion blender cream everything until smooth.  Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and croutons. The result is a delicious asparagus cream soup.  Another option is to add the creamed asparagus peels to a vegetable soup.  This way nothing is wasted.    
  5. To make the bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan.
  6. Pour the flour over the melted butter while whisking well.  Allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Once the milk has simmered for several minutes, with the help of a strainer separate the asparagus peels from the milk.  Pour the hot liquid into the butter and flour mixture.  In order to avoid the forming of lumps, whisk the bechamel continuously in the center as well as on the sides of the pan.  This is very important.  The mixture will begin to thicken up in 3-4 minutes as it gently boils. 
  8. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Once it has thickened to a smooth, creamy consistency, remove from the heat and allow the bechamel to rest for a few minutes.
  9. Blanch the reserved asparagus tips for about 2 minutes in boiling water.  Remove from the water with a strainer and set aside for later.  These tips will be perfect for final garnish. 
  10. Drizzle a pan with olive oil and sauté the diced shallots.  Add the sliced asparagus to the hot pan as well.  Stir and allow the ingredients to sauté for about 3 minutes over high heat.
  11. Add the sautéed asparagus to the bechamel while gently stirring everything together. 

Assembly of the lasagna:

  1. For the assembly of the lasagna, spread some bechamel in the bottom of your baking dish. 
  2. Next, place 3 lasagna sheets over the bechamel.  Once again, gently pour and spread more bechamel sauce over the lasagna sheets.  Grate a generous amount of Parmigiano Reggiano over the entire surface and place  3 additional lasagna sheets over it.  Repeat this process until all the lasagna sheets are used up.  Make sure to reserve enough bechamel for the last layer.  Lastly, sprinkle the very top with Parmigiano Reggiano.
  3. Garnish the surface of the lasagna with some of the asparagus tips.  Be creative.  Drizzle the very top with some olive oil.
  4. At this point the lasagna can be covered up with aluminum foil and immediately baked in the oven.  
  5. Bake in the preheated oven covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes.
  6. After 30 minutes, uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the corners of the lasagna will be slightly browned.  
  7. Remove from the oven, and allow the lasagna to sit for about 20 minutes before cutting into portions and serving.  
  8. Garnish each plate of lasagna with the grated egg yolk that was previously boiled, as well as some chives or more thyme.  Finish everything off with small drops of good Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Enjoy!
Buon Appetito!

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