There is one love that I believe to share with millions of others: fresh asparagus. I think this love is not only about the gorgeous flavour of the vegetable itself but also about the time of the year when it is in season. After months and months of cold and gloomy weather and winter tomatoes tasting like cardboard, the sun finally comes out and fresh European asparagus hits our local supermarkets. What else can you really ask for? Well, maybe apart from Benedict Cumberbatch (another love that I believe to share with millions of others) joining you to share this deliziose asparagus lasagne, that is.
As today is Easter Monday, I browsed the internet for some Italian Easter food. A lasagne with asparagus was one of the commonly proposed dishes. This version is a bit lighter than some others as there is no bechamel sauce included. I substituted the proposed prosciutto with some slices of smoked turkey and a few knobs of butter since I expected the turkey to be a bit drier than cured ham. Some of these lasagne recipes included smoked salmon instead of ham, and I am quite sure that this lasagne would work well with that too.
A proper Italian nonna would obviously also make the pasta by herself but since I am not one and was recovering from a bout of cold, I used these ready albeit quite nice lasagne sheets.
This package also contained advice on a neat trick though which I hadn’t seen before: you can precook the sheets in boiling water for 8-10 minutes which reduces their required baking time in the oven. I did this and the dry sheets actually started to resemble fresh pasta. However, I didn’t quite yet master the art of keeping the sheets apart. Hence, the precooked sheets (stuck together and torn apart) did really resemble something that I would have made myself giving my lasagne a very authentic home-made look..!
Light Asparagus and Ricotta Lasagne
2 bunches of fresh asparagus
lasagne sheets (fresh or dried (~1 package))
500 g fresh ricotta cheese
grated cheese (e.g. parmesan)
prosciutto, cut into cubes
nutmeg, salt, pepper
Clean the asparagus, remove their chalks and cook them in salted, boiling water until ready (~ 5 minutes). Put the cooked asparagus in a blender together with the ricotta cheese, mix well and season with olive oil, salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.
Take a buttered lasagne dish and place the first layer of lasagne sheets in it. Add a layer of the asparagus followed by a layer of the prosciutto cubes. Repeat these steps several times (I made four layers). On top of your lasagne, add one more layer of the sheets and the grated cheese. Bake in the oven at 180C for 20-30 minutes if you are using dry but precooked lasagne sheets (30-40 minutes without precooking) or for 15 minutes if you are using fresh pasta.