Spring Vegetable Lasagne Recipe
It’s Spring! I think all people who love food, love spring. If you shop at farmers markets rather than the supermarket, there’s always a dreary couple of weeks at the end of August when the winter produce is winding down but the spring vegetables aren’t quite ready for picking. If you’re lucky you might see some nice baby vegetables around but I wasn’t so lucky.
With the glut of fresh spring produce available, I like to make “spring vegetable” everything – lasagne, soup, pasta, risotto, bakes, salad, pizza…. there are so many things you can make that will be light and lovely but still full and delicious. This week I will be posting several of my spring vegetable dishes, and I have to apologise to anyone on the other side of the world – you’re going to have to wait a couple of months! :)
This morning I got these beautiful thin, tender young asparagus that were just absolutely perfect for this dish. I also got some really cute little baby zucchini.
My spring vegetable lasagne features a velvety, cheesy leek bechamel that covers the vegetables like a sheepskin rug. I’ve also made mine gluten free by using store bought gluten free lasagne sheets. I made my own chicken stock for this recipe, but if you’re vegetarian, vegetable stock will be just as nice.
Serves 4 with a side salad
- 1 packet San Remo Gluten Free Lasagne Sheets (12 small sheets) or regular instant lasagne sheets (you could also use fresh pasta)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 baby zucchini, or around 1/2 cups, chopped into a small dice
- 1 bunch baby asparagus
- 1 tablespoon mixed fresh herbs – I used rosemary, thyme, lemon thyme and 2 mint leaves – finely chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped (go chopped for this one, not minced, it’s really worth it)
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 1/2 cup baby spinach
First, prepare the filling, then you can prepare the bechamel. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius fan forced.
Trim any woody ends on your asparagus, then cut the tops off with about 1/2-1 inch of the stem. Chop the remaining stem about the same size as your zucchini. Heat the oil in a frypan over medium heat. Add the zucchini, asparagus and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes, then add the herbs. Cook for another 2 minutes, then add the stock. Let it bubble away for 3 minutes. Remove it from the heat, pour into a bowl and if you can, plunge that bowl into iced water to cool it down, as the vegetables will continue to cook in the hot stock.
For the Leek Bechamel
- 2 large leeks, quartered and finely sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 60g butter (40g and 20g split)
- 40g cornflour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups milk, warmed
- Half a fresh nutmeg (or pinch of ground nutmeg)
- 50g strong vintage cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper
Heat 20g butter and the olive oil in a large saucepan. When the butter has melted, add the leeks, 1 clove of chopped garlic and season with salt and pepper. Sweat over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes or until softened and just starting to darken.
Add the remaining clove of chopped garlic and the other 40g of butter. Once the butter has melted, add the cornflour and stir well to combine (until you can’t see any white flour any more). Turn up the heat to medium and cook for 1-2 minutes until you can see the cornflour bubbling around the edges of the leek. Begin to add the milk, about half a cup at a time. Stir well between each addition. The bechamel should start to thicken.
Once you’ve added all the milk, cooking for another minute then remove from the heat. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the cheese and stir to melt. It should be just a little bit looser than you’d like, as it needs to pour through the lasagne and it also thickens on standing. If yours is too thick, just add a touch more milk.
For step by step instructions on bechamel, see my post on How to Make Perfect Bechamel (Cheesy White) Sauce
To assemble the lasagne
Use the layering process below or do it however you like. Just make sure you have liquid near the lasagne sheets as it needs it to cook.
1. Small amount of stock vegie mix
2. Lasagne sheets
3. Stock vegie mix (just be careful not to add TOO much stock, you can strain the mix a bit if you think its too watery)
4. Leek bechamel
5. Half the peas and half the baby spinach
6. Lasagne sheets
7. Stock vegie mix
8. Leek bechamel
9. Remaining peas and baby spinach
10. Lasagne sheets
11. Last of the stock vegie mix (I used less than 1/4 cup of stock at this point)
12. Leek bechamel
13. Arrange the asparagus tips on top
14. If you like, top with a little more grated vintage cheddar
The gluten free lasagne sheets take 45 minutes to cook, so thats how long I did mine for, but basically just follow the instructions on your lasagne packet. Don’t do what I did and walk away to write a blog post while it’s cooking, as my cheese topping ALMOST burnt. It wasn’t quite ready though so I just covered it with foil. If you use fresh pasta and need to brown the top, just pop the grill on.
This is best left overnight so the layers can set, otherwise if you remove it from the dish immediately after baking, it will all just spill apart on the plate. Reheat in a 160 degree celcius fan forced oven for 15-20 minutes or until hot in the centre.
Serve with a simple rocket salad dressed with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a splash of lemon juice.