When we think of lasagne we always think of the luciously rich ragu that is enveloped in between layers and layers of fresh pasta, long stringy melted cheese and heart-warming moments and memories. In all honestly, the lasagne I grew up on was the way my mum taught me - the Vastese way. Meat flavoured sugo with peas, chunks of mozzarella cheese and sliced boiled egg.
But one year when visiting my husband's family up north in Milan, his Zia made her lasagne in bianco for lunch one day. It was the first I had tried it and I was blown away by the flavour, so naturally I re-created her dish upon my return home to Perth. And now it makes its way to our table frequently. I hope it makes its way to your table frequently too!
Preparation Time - 40 mins
Cooking Time - 60 mins
Serves - 4 to 6
To make the pasta
- 400g tipo 00 flour
- 4 eggs
Make the pasta as you normally would, resting for a minimum of 30 minutes. I then roll the sheets through my Atlas Marcato machine to number 6, this keeps it quite thin if time doesn't allow me to pre-blanch (see below). Cut the sheets into 35-40cm lengths, depending on the size of your baking tray, and set aside.
NB:// You can use store bought lasagne sheets here, but you must pre-blanch them.
To make the bechamel
- 50g unsalted butter
- 50g flour
- 750ml milk
In a small pot over medium to low heat, melt the butter. Incorporate the flour to make a roux. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking continuously until it starts to heat through and becomes smooth in texture (the roux has melted through). Keep whisking as it comes to a simmer - after a few more minutes it will start to thicken into a luscious sauce. Turn off the heat. Season with a pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper. Set aside to cool - it will continue to thicken here.
To prepare the vegetables
- 2 bunches of asparagus
- 2 cups of peas
- 1 large leek
Wash and dice the asparagus, snapping off the woody ends first. Ensure that you leave 2cm of the spear whole. Wash and quarter the leek, then dice. In a frying pan, heat a small amount of butter or EVOO (or both!) and saute the leek on a low heat until soft and translucent - approximately 5 minutes. Remove, set aside. Next, saute the asparagus for 2 minutes until softened, set aside and keeping spears separate.
To assemble the lasagne
You will also need;
- Mozzarella cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- Baking dish
Have all of your prepared ingredients close by. In a rectangle baking dish, start with the bechamel by spreading a thin layer to cover the base of the dish. Follow with a layer of the pasta sheets, then evenly spread ¼ leek, ¼ diced asparagus, ¼ peas, then sliced mozzarella. Drizzle a good amount of bechamel and continue this process until all the ingredients have been used (about 4 layers).
Lay the asparagus spears evenly for the top final layer, finish with a good drizzle of bechamel to ensure all areas of the lasagne is covered, then continue with a good amount of grated parmesan. Ensure there is enough sauce/liquid will ensure the pasta sheets evenly cooked (especially if they have not been pre-blanched).
Preheat the oven to 180C and cover the lasagne with aluminium foil. Cook covered for 45 minutes, then carefully remove the aluminium foil and cook for a further 15 minutes to brown the top layer and crisp up the edges. (If you have time to pre-blanch your pasta sheets before assembling the lasagne, then you will only need to cook it covered for 30 minutes and, uncovered for 15 minutes).
Enjoy! And tag #thetableofus @thetableofus if you're sharing on instagram. I love seeing your creations.