A few years ago, I found a recipe on Epicurious, that was basically like the recipe I’m about to post here. (I have since made a few substitutions.) So the second time I decided to make it, was on the day that my in-laws came to our new house, after we got married. It was only my third time of meeting them (once after our engagement, and then on our wedding and then this third time) so trying to be extra efficient, I started prepping all my ingredients in the morning so that we could just put it in the oven after they arrived from the airport. Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeezy. Right?
But while slicing up ingredients (okay, okay, I was haphazardly using a bread knife to cut some of the hardened edge from my parmesan) I basically filleted my thumb to the bone, and started bleeding profusely. (Are you with me so far? Put your head between your knees—that’s what I had to do for fear of fainting.) So I did my best to compress the wound, while hyperventilating, and then called my parents to come take me to the ER since my husband was at work, an hour away by bus. So my dad took me to the ER, while my blessed mother finished making the lasagna which was mid-progress. Three stitches later, and a $700 bill, I was back home with a throbbing, bandaged thumb. Surviving all that trauma, my in-laws arrived later in the afternoon and brought me a bouquet of flowers, and we were still able to sit outside on the porch on a balmy August evening, and enjoy that lasagna. And man-oh-man…that lasagna was so good that the even the associated memories of the near bloodbath and nerve damage to my finger tip has not in any way deterred me from making it again. So please, do try this. It’s quite fantastic.
White Bechamel style sauce:
1/2 yellow or white onion
1-2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp butter
1-2 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Zest from 1 Meyer lemon or 1/2 regular lemon
salt & pepper to taste
10-12 stalks of asparagus
1/2 lb of bacon, fried & crumbled
2 full sized Portabella mushroom caps, sliced into strips
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
(1/4 cup grated parmesan or peccorino, optional to sprinkle on top)
9-10 lasagna noodles
Rinse the asparagus, snap off any dry ends, and then chop the stalks into 1” long pieces. Sautee the asparagus on medium heat, in a light drizzle of olive oil until crisp-tender and bright green—about 8 minutes or so. Also, sautee the sliced Portabella mushrooms with a bit of olive oil. If you want to minimize the amount of pans that you use, it helps to fry your bacon first, and then clean out the grease, while setting your bacon aside on paper towels on a plate to crisp up. Then you can sautee the asparagus and mushrooms in the same skillet. Otherwise, it’s quite okay to use a separate skillet (or oven-bake) for your bacon.
Next, set aside the vegetables and bacon in a bowl, and heat a pot of water to prepare your lasagna noodles according to package directions.
At the same time, start making your Bechamel sauce. Melt butter in the skillet over medium heat, and toss in finely diced onion, and sautee until nearly translucent. Add minced garlic at that point, and lower heat a bit. Toss in flour, and keep stirring onion until it is coated in flour. Add a few tablespoons of milk at a time to avoid clumping, and keep stirring until all the milk is added in. Let it simmer over low heat until thickened, and add some salt and the lemon zest, and nutmeg.
Now you can layer your lasagna, so preheat your oven to 375 F. Start by spreading about 1/2 cup of bechamel sauce on the bottom of a glass lasagna dish, and lay out the first three strips of noodle on top of that. Spread some more bechamel on top of the noodles as well as dollops of ricotta, and about half the mixture of asparagus, bacon and mushrooms. Sprinkle a handful of mozzarella over the top of that, and add the next layer of noodles. Repeat until you’ve used up all your ingredients, and finish with a top layer of noodles, and mozzarella. Bake for 30-40 minutes until bubbly and cheese is browned on top.
Jeanette - Off The Cuff
- Off The Cuff
- Blogger at: http://offthecuffhome.blogspot.com and http://offthecuffcooking.blogspot.com -- My name is Jeanette, and I was born in Sweden, but unlike the famous Muppet, I am not a professional Swedish Chef. I actually studied design and photography. I also was a freelance indie-rock critic for several magazines from 1998-2005, and had an in-house PR company for a while. Cooking is in my DNA--my dad's brother was a chef and their father was a pastry chef, my mom's mother was a caterer, who published a cookbook of traditional Finnish breads and pastries when she was 92. Everyone else in my family loves to cook, and we're not afraid to experiment. I have a yen for interior design and remodeling.