Monday, July 20, 2009

Fancy vegetarian: Asparagus lasagna

I found this recipe on my chair when got into work one morning. I don't work in the food industry, so I took it as a sign.

The end result was delicious, provided you really like asparagus, but I do have some reservations about the prep, so I've annotated the recipe, below, should you want to try this one out for yourself:



2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
48 medium asparagus spears, about 1 1/4 lb
4 sheets of fresh lasagna noodles
3 oz Gruyère cheese, grated
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese


In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour
and continue to cook, whisking for 1 min. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the milk. Return to a low heat and cook, whisking continually until mixture boils and thickens. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Place in a small bowl and cover the surface directly with plastic wrap. Set aside to cool.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Trim the asparagus and tie together in bunches of 6.[1] Drop into the boiling water, and simmer until just cooked, about 5 minutes. Remove the cooked asparagus using tongs and drop into a bowl of ice water. Once cold, drain well and untie.

Return the water to the boil and add the lasagna noodles. Cook until al dente, then drain and rinse under cold water. Drain and pat dry.

Trim the asparagus spears into 4-inch (10-cm) lengths. Slice the remaining stems into thin diagonal slices and reserve. Cut the lasagna noodles in half lengthwise.[2]

Butter a large baking dish. Place the noodles against sides of baking dish with a third of each noodle on the bottom of the dish and the other two thirds overhanging one side of the dish.Divide the reserved asparagus between the noodles. Sprinkle with half grated Gruyère. Fold the noodle back over this and top the next noodle third with 6 of the 4-inch (10-cm) asparagus spears and more Gruyère. Finally, fold the remaining piece of the noodle back over this. You will have an S shape, with sliced asparagus stems and cheese in the bottom of the S and spears and cheese in the top half.

Preheat the oven to 425.

Whisk the cream until soft peaks form.[3] Whisk a couple of spoonfuls into the reserved sauce, and then fold in the remaining. Place a large spoonful of this mixture on each individual lasagna, spreading to the edges. Sprinkle with parmesan, then bake for 20 min or until hot and golden brown.

[1] I can see no value in bundling the asparagus. I guess it's to make easier to trim the spears equal lengths latter on, but any time savings there would have been negated by the tying and untying of 8 asparagus bundles.

[2] I'm 90% sure they meant to write crosswise. That, or my lasagna noodles were not standard size (doubt that) because when I followed the assembly instructions, my very large baking dish didn't come close to fitting all of the lasagna pieces. I had to use a second dish (hate that), and it seemed to me that the asparagus spears stuck out a little more than they should have. What I should have done was baked them on a foil covered baking sheet.

[3] I whipped the cream a little to thicken it before mixing it into the white sauce, but that's it. I figured that this step was purely aesthetic and that the recipe was labour-intensive enough without having to whip cream at the end.




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wow...i had no idea you did i wish i'd taken pictures when i did the original dish that inspired the sheet on your chair :) Great work!! Colleague M