Recipe: Asparagus Herb Lasagna
Thanks to my friend Barbara for sending along this recipe from the NY Times.
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 pounds asparagus
- 1 recipe olive oil béchamel
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, such as tarragon, chervil, parsley, chives, basil, arugula
- 1/2 pound no-boil lasagna noodles
1. Fill a pasta pot with water, and add the garlic cloves. Bring to a boil while you trim the asparagus by breaking off the woody ends. When the water comes to a boil, add salt to taste and the asparagus ends. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover partially and simmer the asparagus ends for 30 minutes. Remove the asparagus ends and the garlic cloves from the water and discard. Bring the water back to a boil, and add the asparagus stalks. Boil thick asparagus stalks for five minutes, medium and thin stalks for three minutes. Transfer them, using a spider or tongs, to a bowl of ice water. Do not drain the cooking water. Allow the asparagus to cool for a few minutes, then drain and dry on a clean kitchen towel. If the asparagus stalks are thick, cut in half lengthwise first, then cut the asparagus (thick or thin) into 1-inch lengths. Set aside.
2. Whisk 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the cooking water from the asparagus into the béchamel, along with 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and the herbs. Add freshly ground pepper to taste and adjust salt.
3. Oil or butter a 3-quart baking dish or lasagna dish. Bring the water back to a rolling boil, and drop in enough lasagna noodles to cover the surface of the baking dish (for my rectangular dish, that’s three lasagna noodles). Boil just until the pasta is flexible (about three minutes for no-boil lasagna). Using tongs, transfer the pasta to a bowl of cold water, then drain on a clean dish towel.
4. Spread a very thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of the dish. Cover with a layer of pasta. Stir the asparagus into the remaining béchamel, and spread a layer over the noodles. Sprinkle on 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Parboil another layer’s worth of pasta, and top with the asparagus béchamel, then with another 2 tablespoons of Parmesan. Repeat with one more layer. End with a layer of pasta, and if you have any béchamel left, spread it over the top and sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan. Cover tightly with plastic if storing in the refrigerator.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the lasagna, and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 30 minutes until bubbling. Uncover, and continue to bake until the top just begins to color, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, allow to sit five to 10 minutes, and serve.
Yield: Serves six.
Advance preparation: You can make this up to a day or two before you bake it. Don’t drizzle on the last tablespoon of olive oil until you’re ready to bake. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate. Remove the plastic, and replace with foil before baking.