Ok, so it's been raining here. Normally this time of year is one of warmer weather, buds on the trees, green grass, and the occasional rain shower. Not this year though. Oh no, Mother Nature is ticked off about something and it rained for four days straight and we got around 6" of rain during that time.
Things are finally green alright, but they're also soaking wet and many of my friends have water in their basements or living rooms.
Before the "monsoon" of 2013 hit, we had a staff meeting at school in which our principal treated us to lunch. Salads and pizzas of all kinds from a local restaurant adorned the giant table at the back of the meeting, and one in particular caught my eye: a white pizza with ricotta, roasted garlic, and basil. Heaven on a crust, I tell you.
I had the thought to recreate it as a lasagne… and now that it's spring, asparagus seemed like the perfect addition.
I couldn't make it full-fat and crazy rich like the pizza had been, so I challenged myself to make it as "light" as possible while still keeping an overall flavorful dish.
I normally shy away from making lasagne that requires pre-cooking the noodles because, honestly, it's a royal pain in the ass. None of my pots are quite tall enough, the noodles slip and slide all over, and usually, red-sauce based lasagne doesn't actually need pre-cooked noodles. White sauce though, since it has a lower water content, the noodles need pre-cooking if you don't want them gummy. And who likes gummy noodles?!
So this beauty of a lasagne has whole wheat noodles, fresh asparagus, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, low-fat cheese, low-fat milk, only about 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter, and a whole lot of freshly roasted garlic. The only thing it wasn't low on was amazing and complex flavor.
Fresh basil on top was the perfect addition, and I'm glad I forgot to mix it into the filling. The freshness gave it that perfect spring flavor that I was looking for. If you make this, keep in mind that it could VERY easily be made full-fat, and would probably hold together better than mine did. I didn't even care that it fell apart though… it was all I was hoping it would be!
White Lasagne with Asparagus & Lemon
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients (8 servings)
- 1 box whole wheat lasagne noodles, cooked and kept hot
- 1 head garlic, roasted (instructions follow)
- 16 oz. fat free ricotta cheese
- 2 cups low-fat mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1 bunch asparagus, cut in half lengthwise
- 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- juice of two lemons (about 1/3 cup)
- 2 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 1/3 cup flour
- salt and pepper to taste
- A few leaves of basil, chopped
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.Make the sauce
Heat the lemon juice and butter/oil in a small saucepan.
Add the flour and whisk until thick, like a brownie batter.
Add the milk, salt, and pepper, and stir until thickened.
Whisk in the parmesan cheese, then simmer over low heat until ready to use.Make the filling
Mix together 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, the ricotta, and all the cloves of roasted garlic.
Stir until the garlic is mixed in.Assemble
Layer noodles, filling, and asparagus in alternating layers, ending with noodles, saving a few asparagus halves for the top.
Pour the sauce over the noodles, allowing it to settle a few minutes. Top with remaining cheese, and top with the asparagus halves.
Bake until the top is brown and the sauce is bubbling, about 30 minutes.
Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with chopped basil on top.