From correspondent Seth Doane's Italian mother-in-law comes this recipe for vegetarian lasagna.
"This lasagna is light and quite delicate with the homemade béchamel," he writes. "I've made this with zucchini because it was plentiful at the market (and because I like it), but you can make it with pesto, asparagus or even radicchio."
Alma's Vegetarian Lasagna
Preheat oven to 325°F.
To make the zucchini:
- 8-ish zucchini (depending on size) – Cut the ends off, slice in half and then cut into small pieces.
- 1 ½ - 2 small shallots, minced
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Heat olive oil in pan, sauté shallots with a bit of salt and pepper. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. When cooked remove from heat.
To make béchamel:
- Butter (about 125g or 5/8th cup)
- Nutmeg (ground)
- 1 liter milk (about four cups or a little more)
- 3 spoonfuls flour (sifted)
- Use fresh lasagna pasta (in refrigerated section of grocery store) or make it yourself if you have the time and ability! And be sure to buy/make the thinnest possible pasta.
- Grated parmesan cheese (or pecorino), depending on how you want it to taste
- Fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
Heat butter slowly (don't let it brown), add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Start slowly adding flour through a sifter while constantly stirring. (You don't want the flour to "clump"). Then add milk. Again, keep stirring. Increase the flame a bit and keep stirring. The milky substance will thicken. As soon as you see it start to boil take it immediately off the flame.
Take a little of the zucchini and put it in a blender – add it to the béchamel (to add flavor)
Spread a bit of béchamel on the bottom of the lasagna pan, then put a layer of pasta, then more béchamel followed by the zucchini, then some mozzarella and parmesan, then another layer of pasta. You should make about four layers.
The homemade béchamel is the hardest part of this but it's worth it as it creates a nice, light lasagna.
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