Monday, June 20, 2011

Sun-dried Tomato & Asparagus Lasagna

Who doesn't love lasagna?

Well, maybe people who aren't big fans of asparagus, but this is a lovely change-up from the average layers of meat sauce and bechamel.
And it's still asparagus season, so take advantage of it!
This is based off a Giada di Laurentiis recipe, which calls for pancetta in the base of sautéing the asparagus, which would be delicious, but as I was trying to make a vegetarian dish I skipped that step.
I also didn't sauté the asparagus, as you will see below, because there was just far too much for any one pan.

As I was making 4 lasagnas, I stretched the sun-dried tomato sauce with a little fresh homemade marinara. Just your standard onion, garlic, large can of crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, white wine, pinch of dried oregano, salt, and fresh basil.
For the sun-dried tomatoes, I used marinated Turkish-style tomatoes (rather than dried Italian) which are already plumped up from being in their olive oil with garlic and herbs.
Simply drop them with their oil in a food processor and let it go until smooth. Add more olive oil if you need to break them up a bit more.
Combine the two types of tomato sauce and set aside for layering.

For this much asparagus (3-4 bunches) I washed and sliced them all first and then laid them on a baking sheet, drizzled with salt and olive oil and a few pats of butter (white spots you see) and put each tray under the broiler for about 4-5 minutes. This way they get a bit cooked and flavorful, but they're not mush. 
You want them to still have some bite after baking.

Lightly sauce the bottom of your pan and then begin layering: pasta, sauce, asparagus, ricotta, grated parmigiano, repeat.

You could also just combine the ricotta and asparagus and spread them on together. I just didn't know how much ricotta I was going to need for 4 lasagnas (turns out, roughly five 14 oz containers. I really like ricotta.) so did it all separately.

Cover the top layer of pasta with a bit more sauce and then lay some low-moisture (read: deli sliced) mozzarella and bake at 350º for 20-30 minutes, depending on whether you are using no-boil lasagna or pre-boiled lasagna.
Note: for this dish, I would recommend either pre-boiled lasagna or fresh lasagna sheets (Giovanni Rana makes a very delicate kind) as there is not as much moisture in the sauce to cook the noodles.
Also, be cautious when salting your various stages of cooking, as sun-dried tomatoes can be quite salty. But I also avoided that excessive salt by using the marinated Turkish tomatoes.
A tasty twist on a comfort classic.

2 comments:

BenTheMan said...

Fuuuuuuuuuuuugh, that does not look terrible at all!

Jennifer said...

Seriously, how long until you start your own catering company? (And then end up on Top Chef Masters?)