The chef’s greener version of the classic casserole is exactly what a cool summer evening supper calls for, and it’s a simple, elegant meal.
De Laurentiis’ Asparagus Lasagna is a classy version of the traditional Italian dish
As the Everyday Italian host writes in her cookbook Giada’s Kitchen, her veggie-centric spin on the casserole dish is much lighter than the original.
“If you find regular lasagna with a tomato sauce too heavy for summer meals, this is a great alternative, and it’s a real stunner on the plate,” she writes. “A sun-dried tomato pesto is layered between the pasta and vegetables, adding a bit of sweetness to the dish.”
The recipe calls for olive oil, lasagna sheets, jarred sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, grated Parmesan cheese, diced pancetta, minced fresh garlic cloves, four bunches of asparagus trimmed and cut into one-inch pieces, whole-milk ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, and unsalted butter.
The chef’s greener lasagna is worth the effort
Firstly, De Laurentiis prepares the lasagna noodles and sets them aside until they’re ready for assembly of the dish.
Next, it’s time to make the pesto sauce: “It’s not your classic sauce,” De Laurentiis says in the Food Network video, link below, for this recipe. “But it’s going to look beautiful with the asparagus.”
The drained sun-dried tomatoes are combined in a food processor with “a lot” of basil leaves: “You don’t have to chop anything up because the food processor does it all for you,” she adds.
Keep in mind not to leave the ingredients whirring away in the processor. The chef says what you’re looking for in this pesto is not a smooth sauce but a “coarse chop.” So pulse the basil and tomato combination until it’s roughly chopped.
She mixes Parmesan cheese right into the pesto and sets it aside.
The pancetta is chopped, fried, and placed on a plate. Then, in the same pan, the chopped garlic and onion are cooked, salted and peppered. “You want to season every layer and the salt will actually help soften the onion and garlic,” she notes. Add the chopped asparagus and cook it along with the onion mixture. Once it’s all cooked, it’s stirred in with the ricotta.
In a 13 x 9 baking dish, some of the pesto is scattered on the bottom of the dish, followed by a layer of lasagna sheets. On these noodles goes half of the asparagus/ricotta mixture, then a third of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat these layers and bake in a 350-degree F oven for 25 minutes.
Get the complete recipe and reviews on Food Network’s site or in the Giada’s Kitchen cookbook.
Home cooks praised De Laurentiis’ spin on traditional lasagna
Proving there is a lasagna for every season, Giada De Laurentiis’ asparagus version of the classic received several dozen five-star ratings from reviewers on Food Network’s site.
“Very easy to put together and the taste is wonderful. The sun-dried tomatoes, pancetta, and basil blend so well with the asparagus. Great dish!,” one person wrote.
Another home cook stated that De Laurentiis’ recipe made believers out of a few lasagna purists: “Wow this lasagne was absolutely delicious! My family gave me a hard time when they saw it didn’t have any sauce like the traditional version. But after the first bite, they were hooked. Easy, moist, and very flavorful.”