This meatless lasagna was described as a showcase of spring vegetables. The filling was full of asparagus, peas, fresh herbs, greens, and leeks. It was loaded with cheese too, of course. 🙂
The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used no-boil noodles. I prepared it the day it was served but it could be prepared up to two days ahead. It can be assembled ahead of time and baked before serving or baked in advance and reheated before serving. Clark notes that the lasagna is easier to slice if it is baked and then reheated.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
For the Béchamel:
4 T unsalted butter (plus additional butter or cooking spray for greasing the pan)
1/3 cup (5 T) all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon fine sea, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 large garlic cloves, finely grated or minced (I used a garlic press)
For the Filling:
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound), ends trimmed, cut into 3/4-inch pieces if thin or 1/2-inch pieces if fat
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup frozen peas (no need to thaw)
1 cup combination of soft herbs (parsley, chives, basil, dill), finely chopped, plus more for garnish
2 leeks, white and light green parts, thinly sliced into half moons and cleaned
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
8 ounces baby spinach or baby greens, like kale or arugula (about 8 cups), chopped if large
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
32 ounces whole-milk ricotta (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
12 ounces dried lasagna noodles (about 12 noodles), or substitute the same amount of no-boil, oven-ready or fresh noodles; all will work
8 ounces whole-milk mozzarella, thinly sliced or torn into pieces
To Prepare the Béchamel:
In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat.
Once melted, add flour and whisk until combined. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until pale golden.
Slowly whisk in the milk, a little at a time, so that the sauce does not clump.
Add the salt, nutmeg and bay leaf. Gently bring to a simmer and let cook for 9 to 12 minutes, whisking often, until the béchamel is thick but still pourable.
Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan and grated garlic, and taste, adding more salt if needed. (I used coarse salt.)
To Prepare the Filling & Complete the Dish:
Place a 12-inch skillet over medium to medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Let it heat until it thins out, about 30 seconds, then add the asparagus and sauté, shaking the pan, until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
Season asparagus with salt and pepper, then transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the frozen peas and 2 tablespoons mixed soft herbs.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan and heat until the oil thins out, about 30 seconds, then add the leeks, fennel seeds, red-pepper flakes and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Sauté leeks until tender and golden at the edges, 4 to 6 minutes.
Add the spinach and remaining herbs, working in batches if needed, and sauté until the greens are very tender and the pan is very dry, about 10 minutes.
Stir in lemon zest and juice. Taste and add more salt if needed. It should be well seasoned.
Add leek-spinach-herb mixture to a large bowl. Stir in ricotta and 3/4 cup each Parmesan and pecorino (save remaining Parmesan for the top). Taste and add more salt if needed.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. (I set my oven to true convection.) Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray or a little butter.
Remove bay leaf from béchamel, then ladle some of the sauce into the bottom of the baking pan until just covered.
Place as many noodles as will fit on top of the béchamel, breaking or cutting them to fit in one layer.
Ladle a little more béchamel on top of the noodles, covering the surface.
Add half of the ricotta-leek-spinach-herb mixture, spreading evenly, then sprinkle half of the asparagus-pea mixture on top.
Add another layer of noodles, then béchamel, then the remaining ricotta mixture, then the remaining asparagus-pea mixture.
Top with the sliced mozzarella.
Add a third and final layer of noodles (don’t worry if you don’t end up using all of the noodles) and cover with remaining béchamel.
Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan.
Cover the pan with parchment paper and then foil; place on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips.
Bake for 30 minutes, then remove parchment and foil. Rotate the pan.
Bake for another 30 minutes on convection or up to 40 minutes in a standard oven, or until golden brown and bubbling on top. Rotate the pan for even browning, if necessary. (If the top is still pale, you can run the lasagna under the broiler for 1 to 3 minutes.)
I have two recipes that incorporate chili crisp to share. This saucy dish was subtly spicy and very creamy from the tahini. It had a deep sesame flavor. Next time, I may add a bit more soy sauce and rice vinegar to the sauce.
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Kendra Vaculin. It was a perfect springtime meal.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
5 T (1/3 cup) chili crisp
5 T (1/3 cup) tahini
3 T soy sauce, plus more, to taste
3 T unseasoned rice vinegar, plus more, to taste
12 to 12.8 oz dried soba noodles
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, cut into 2″ pieces
2 T vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
1 lb ground pork
thinly sliced scallions and/or cilantro, for serving
1/2 T to 1 T sesame seeds, toasted, for serving
Whisk chili crisp, tahini, soy sauce, and rice vinegar in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings, as desired. Set sauce aside.
Toast sesame seeds in a 350 degree oven until fragrant and lightly browned, stirring once or twice, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Cook soba noodles in a large pot of boiling water until almost cooked, about 2 minutes.
Add asparagus pieces; cook until noodles are al dente and asparagus is crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.
Rinse noodles and asparagus under cool running water; reserve pot.
Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high.
Cook ground pork in an even layer, undisturbed, until browned, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring and breaking up with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 3 minutes. (Use a splatter screen!)
Add reserved sauce and cook, scraping up browned bits, 1 minute.
Transfer pork mixture, noodles, and asparagus to reserved pot. Add 2/3 cup cooking liquid; cook over medium heat, stirring gently with spoon and adding more cooking liquid if needed, until noodles and meat are well coated, about 2 minutes.
Serve topped with thinly sliced scallions, cilantro (if using), and toasted sesame seeds.
I have a couple delicious weeknight pasta recipes to share.
The original recipe for this dish described it as “weeknight fancy”- loved it. The spicy brown-butter coated walnut topping was an essential element to earn this description.
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sarah Jampel. I served the flavorful sauce over arugula-parmesan ravioli and incorporated garlic and asparagus. I also modified the method. Any variety of store-bought ravioli would work with this dish.
Yield: Serves 4
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 10 oz package frozen peas (about 2 cups)
1 cup (lightly packed) basil leaves, plus more for garnish
1 large garlic clove
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
4 T unsalted butter, divided
16–20 oz fresh or frozen ravioli (I used Trader Joe’s fresh Arugula & Parmesan Ravioli)
4 T (1/4 cup) coarsely chopped raw walnuts or pistachios
1 tsp Aleppo-style pepper
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces, optional
Place the frozen peas in a fine-mesh sieve and place in a large pot of boiling salted water; cook until peas are tender, about 4 minutes.
Lift sieve from water to drain peas and basil and transfer to a blender. (I used a Vitamix.)(Alternatively, you can skip the sieve and use a spider or slotted spoon to fish out the peas and basil.)
Reduce heat to medium-low and keep cooking liquid warm. (You will use it for the sauce, ravioli and the asparagus, if using.)
Add the basil, garlic, grated Parmesan, 2 tablespoons butter (cut into 4 pieces) and 1/2 cup cooking liquid to the blender with the peas.
Blend, gradually increasing speed to high and adding up to 1/4 cup additional cooking liquid as needed, until you have a mostly smooth, fairly loose sauce; season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. (I didn’t add any additional liquid.)
Return cooking liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Add ravioli -and asparagus, if using. Cook, stirring gently to unstick, until tender, about 3 minutes or according to package directions. Drain reserving 1/2 cup of pasta liquid. Reserve pot.
Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat.
Add the chopped nuts and cook, stirring often, until butter begins to smell toasty and turn brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.
Add Aleppo-style pepper, finely grate in lemon zest, and season lightly with salt; mix well.
Slice lemon into wedges.
Return cooked ravioli -and asparagus, if using- to pot, pour pea sauce over, and stir gently to coat. At this point, the consistency can be adjusted with reserved pasta water, if necessary. Using a large spoon, transfer ravioli to plates or a serving dish.
Top with more Parmesan and basil, then spoon brown-butter nuts over the top. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over, as desired.
I loved that this was a veggie-loaded dish. Other members of my family may have complained that they wished it had more meat. 😉 Everyone enjoyed it!
I used asparagus combined with farm stand sugar snap peas and my CSA garlic scapes and bunching broccoli. Any crisp vegetable could be incorporated. We ate it over rice drizzled with Sriracha to add extra heat- perfect.
This Sichuan-inspired stir-fry recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Deb Perelman.
Yield: 4 servings
1 to 2 T peanut or vegetable oil, divided (I used 6 teaspoons)
2+ lbs crispy green vegetables (I used 1 lb asparagus, trimmed, cut on a diagonal into 1″–2″ pieces with 1 lb bunching broccoli, cut into 2″ pieces, and 2 cups sugar snaps)
8 oz ground pork
pinch or dash of red pepper flakes, optional
4 to 6 scallions, white and pale green parts only, finely chopped
2 garlic scapes, finely chopped, optional
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 2″ piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped
2 T Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine) or medium-dry sherry
2 T soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
white or brown rice, cooked, for serving
store-bought chili crisp or sriracha, for serving, optional
Heat 1 or 2 teaspoons of peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high to high. (I used a 14-inch stainless steel skillet.)
Once pan is hot (oil will be lightly smoking), add half of the vegetables and a couple pinches of salt and cook, tossing only once or twice so the pieces have a chance to blister, until crisp-tender and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add another 1 or 2 teaspoons of peanut oil to skillet (no need to wipe it out) and repeat process with remaining vegetables.
Reduce heat to medium-high; add remaining 1 or 2 teaspoons of peanut oil to skillet, then add pork, spreading out into an even layer. Season with a couple pinches of salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes, if desired. Cook, undisturbed, until meat begins to brown underneath, about 2 minutes.
Break up meat with a wooden spoon and add scallions, garlic scapes (if using), garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring, until pork is crisp and mixture is very fragrant, about 2 minutes. (I used a mini-food processor to finely chop the scallions, garlic, garlic scapes, and ginger.)
Add wine and soy sauce and return the vegetable to the skillet. Cook, turning to coat with pork mixture, until heated through, about 1 minute.
Transfer stir-fry to a platter or large shallow bowl and drizzle with sesame oil. Serve with rice and hot sauce.
I used to be able to bribe my husband to eat a frittata for dinner by serving it with roasted potatoes… unfortunately, that bribe has worn thin. A frittata topped with burrata was an easy sell! 🙂 This dish could be served for any meal of the day.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. The burrata brought it to the next level. Next time, I would make half of the pesto. We ate it with roasted potatoes and green salad. Nice.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
1 pound (1small bunch) medium asparagus, tough bottoms removed
½cup extra-virgin olive oil
1cup basil leaves, plus a few small basil leaves for garnish
1cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2tablespoons unsalted butter
8large eggs, lightly beaten
¼cup grated Parmesan cheese
1-2balls of fresh burrata, about 1/2 pound total, at room temperature
Rinse asparagus, and pat dry. Cut into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal, or into julienne strips if preferred. Set aside.
In blender or small food processor, purée olive oil, basil and parsley to make a thin pesto. Season with salt and pepper.
Put a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or other nonstick omelet pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add butter and swirl to coat pan, then add asparagus. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring for about a minute without browning.
Quickly pour in eggs and stir with a wooden spoon, as if making scrambled eggs. Tilt pan and lift mixture at the edges to allow any runny egg from the top to make its way to the bottom. After 3 or 4 minutes, the frittata should be mostly set. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Lay a lid over the skillet, and turn off the heat. Leave for a minute or so, until frittata is moist and just done. (Alternatively, place pan under a hot broiler for a minute or so.)
Set whole burrata in the center of frittata. Drizzle with herb pesto. Pierce burrata with tip of a knife and spoon contents over frittata.
Cut frittata into wedges and serve directly from pan, garnished with basil leaves.
I love springtime pasta dishes loaded with vegetables. This version was creamy, rich, and absolutely delicious. Chopping the asparagus so that it could be completely incorporated throughout the pasta was genius.
This recipe was adapted from Ruth Rogers of River Café London: Thirty Years of Recipes and the Story of a Much-Loved Restaurant cookbook, via Food 52. I modified the proportions to use one pound of pasta. I also left the asparagus tips intact. Amazing!
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
14 to 16 ounces taglierini, tagliatelle, or pappardelle pasta
5 to 6 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
Trim or snap off the tough ends from the asparagus spears. Cut into 1-inch pieces; reserve tips in a separate bowl.
Finely chop the 1-inch pieces of asparagus all together with 2 of the garlic cloves and the herbs in a food processor. (I chopped the garlic and herbs first and then added the asparagus.)
Bring the cream to a boil in a saucepan with the remaining 4 whole garlic cloves and simmer until the cloves are soft. Remove from the heat; discard the garlic.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a separate large pan and sauté half of the chopped asparagus for 5 minutes, stirring. (I used a 14-inch skillet.)
Add the rest of the chopped asparagus-herb mixture and the reserved asparagus tips, followed by the flavored cream. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the cream begins to thicken, about 6 minutes. Season to taste. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
Cook the pasta in a generous amount of boiling salted water, then drain thoroughly.
Add to the sauce along with about half of the Parmesan and toss together.