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A Different Approach to Lasagna

January 20, 2011

Whew, it has been a while since I last posted. I was sick. Blech. <(@_$)> But alas I have returned with a great recipe to share.

I think one of the best/easy meals to make for a group of people is lasagna. It can pretty much be made ahead and warmed as your guests arrive. You may be saying to yourself “Boooo lasagna. <(-_-)> Boring. Boring. Boring!” However, this recipe is different. I found it in a Barilla online celebrity cookbook that I downloaded a couple of months back. It is a recipe for vegetarian lasagna with asparagus and eggplant that was endorsed by Julianne Moore. (OMG it must be delicious right?) Plus, how can you not love the colors!

So the recipe called for a pesto sauce to be used alternately with the white sauce, but I really wasn’t feeling that. Plus, I am a big fan of the ricotta layer in more classic lasagnas. Therefore, I decided to go with a spinach-basil-ricotta filling in place of the pesto.

Thoughts:

-As with most cream sauces I make, I used soymilk.  Feel free to use dairy if you so desire.

-I use panko in just about every recipe that calls for a breadcrumb crunchiness factor. You can use ordinary breadcrumbs if you don’t have panko on hand.

Asparagus and Eggplant Lasagna

  • 1 box lasagna noodles
  • 1 bunch medium asparagus spears
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large Japanese eggplant, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½  cups mozzarella cheese
  • ½ c. panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1 15 oz. container of ricotta cheese
  • 1 small package frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed of excess liquid
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 egg

For besciamella sauce (fancy Italian word for simple cream sauce a.k.a. bechamel in French):

  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 3 cup soy milk, hot
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of nutmeg (fresh if you have)

Preheat the oven to 400.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Trim the asparagus and boil for 1 minute. Remove from water and place into a bowl of ice water. Drain well and cut each spear in half lengthwise.

I felt inclined to build an asparagus cabin. My house was a lovely shade of green.

Either cook eggplant in a sauté pan over medium heat in a little bit of olive oil for about 5 minutes or drizzle with olive oil and grill up right quick.

I really like the color contrast of eggplants. Deep purple exterior with beige seeded center. Too bad my crappy phone camera can't show this effectively.

In a medium bowl mix together the spinach, ricotta, egg, and basil. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

To make besciamella sauce, in a pan melt the butter over medium high heat. Sprinkle in the flour and stir around the pan to incorporate into the butter. Let cook until light golden brown, about 6-7 minutes. Slowly add in the milk to the butter, cup by cup and whisk until smooth. Bring mixture to a boil and then remove from heat and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Set aside for layering. Woot!

Cook the lasagna sheets in the boiling asparagus water until al dente (I think that is still a thing with lasagna noodles).

Prep a 13×9 inch baking pan by buttering or spraying.

I was very happy with the grill marks from the grill pan. It looked so pretty while assembling.

Put a little bit of sauce on the bottom of the dish. Layer 3 sheets of lasagna on bottom of the pan; top with a nice layering of the asparagus followed by a few slices of eggplant. Add a healthy drizzle of sauce. (about a cup). Layer with 3 more sheets of lasagna. Then using a spatula spread half of the ricotta mixture. Repeat these layers again. (You may have some leftover veggies depending on the size of your eggplant and bunch of asparagus). After placing the remaining noodles on top layer, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and the panko.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and the breadcrumbs have browned up.

Yah the finished product. (I was so excited to eat that I forgot to take pictures, this one is a leftover slice so not bubbly oozy).

P.S. Use a really sharp knife or sharp metal serving spatula to effectively cut through the layers and not have asparagus pieces that jump ship.

~Erik <(^_^)>

 

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6 comments

  1. Very nice asparagus house! I didn’t think about slicing the eggplant that way. I’ve only ever done it the normal way when you make fried eggplant. Making me hungry as do most of these postings. Very nice grill marks! Hope to see you soon! Call me sometime!


    • Haha I was quite proud of my structurally sound eco-friendly house. I’ll definitely give you a call sometime soon!


  2. Lookin’ yummaroo!!! I hope you’re feeling better. Well, after eating that lasagna, how could you not be feeling better? 🙂


    • Yeah it really did help to lift my spirit, as does any home cooked meal.


  3. ..o.m.g.
    Now that I’m back in the states you better call me on your next recipe!!!!



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