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.


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?)