I know it is spring when:
Every pigeon, butterfly, ladybug and cat around me is doing it
I can't stop photographing the wisteria outside my window (see last post)
My solitary early morning run suddenly gets crowded
I start cutting 40 little nails and toenails 2x a week instead of 1x (is it just my kids' overall growth that is so affected by hot weather?)
I stop wearing socks, but keep an emergency pair in my handbag (fancy!)
Every previously hidden nook and cranny of the apartment is visible and screaming "clean me!"
How can you tell it is spring?
Something all of us experience is the appearance of an abundance of greens at the market after a long winter filled with root vegetables.
A few weeks ago Frank, the person behind the blog Memorie di Angelina, posted this recipe. While I have had this kind of lasagna in restaraunts, I had never made it myself and was immediately attracted given the copious amount of asparagus I have been buying these days. Also, when it comes to Frank's recipes, I know I am in good hands: his blog is full of great Italian dishes and everything I have cooked from it turns out perfect. All his posts are rich in descriptions and additional notes, which will answer any questions you may have.
This spring lasagna is a more delicate version of an Italian favorite, if not lighter given the generous amounts of bechamel sauce, butter and Parmesan cheese it requires. I have made it twice in two weeks for friends and it was met with enthusiasm both times. Unfortunately I never manage to keep any leftovers for myself!
It is ideal an ideal dish for a dinner party because it allows you to spend more time with your guests, glass of wine in hand, than in the kitchen. Also, I imagine it freezes well like most lasagna, so when you are making it, you might as well make two and stash the second one away (note to self).
2 bushels of asparagus
lasagna (dry or fresh)
Rid the asparagus spears of their tough stems and steam until tender.
While the asparagus is cooking, start preparing the bechamel sauce (follow link in ingredients).
When the asparagus is ready, cut the tips off and set aside. Put the stems into a blender or food processor and blend with a couple of tablespoons of bechamel sauce, adding salt (and a little pepper if you like).
Preheat your oven to 180°C/375°F.
Grease an ovenproof dish with butter and start layering: lasagna sheets, bechamel sauce and asparagus puree, asparagus tips, a dusting of grated Parmesan cheese and a few scattered knobs of butter. Start all over again until you have from four to six layers. Cover the last layer of pasta with bechamel sauce, Parmesan cheese and butter.
Bake in the oven for about a half hour or until the filling bubbles and the top starts turning golden brown.
Remove the dish from the oven and let rest for about a half hour before serving.
If I can give you some advice, keep the bechamel sauce runny, especially if you are using fresh lasagna (store bought or not), because it tends to absorb more liqui; and salt both sauces more than you think necessary, as the dish will taste a little bland otherwise.