Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Artichoke and Spinach Lasagna


It’s springtime, although you wouldn’t know it from the weather here in New York city. It is supposed to be 41F tonight, which is only 9 degrees above freezing! Yesterday I was caught in a rainstorm, and was so wet that I had to slosh into Duane Reade to buy new socks and a roll of paper towel to dry my pants and shoes. As you can imagine, New Yorkers are complaining loudly about this state of affairs.

I find cooking to be a perfect way to transcend gloomy weather. This week I created a vernal lasagna that embodies the coming of spring with hints of green (artichoke, spinach and peas) peeking out from a snowy mass of noodles, ricotta and mozzarella. This lasagna is inspired by a recipe from Bon Appétit, and is a contrast to the autumnal heartiness of most red meat/red sauce versions. You can read about the “dirty” history of the word lasagna on my recent post for Turkey Lasagna al Forno.

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
8 ounces canned (drained) or frozen artichoke hearts (thawed), coarsely chopped
1/4 cup (1 package) fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 cup whipping cream
1 15-ounce container low-fat ricotta cheese
1/2 pound frozen petite peas, thawed
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pine nuts (optional)
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped plus 4 extra (optional)
6 no-boil lasagna noodles, dipped in water
1/2 pound coarsely grated mozzarella or mozzarella cheese




Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté garlic until fragrant, and then sauté onions and 2 minutes. Add in artichokes and sauté for 2 more minutes [first picture above]. Turn off heat and stir in 1/2 cup cream and basil.
3. In a blender puree 1/2 cup cream, ricotta, 1/2 peas, spinach, Parmesan, egg and salt. Mix in remaining peas, pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes [second picture above].
4. Grease an 8 x 11 glass baking dish with olive oil. Spread 1/2 cup ricotta mixture, and layer with 2 noodles.
5. Cover with 1/2 of artichoke mixture, 1 cup ricotta mixture and 1 cup mozzarella.
6. Repeat with 2 noodles, rest of artichoke mixture and 1 cup mozzarella.
7. Top with last noodles, remaining ricotta mixture and 2 cups mozzarella cheese.
8. Slice up 4 sun dried tomatoes and use to garnish the top of the lasagna [third picture above].
9. Cover tightly with foil and bake lasagna for 40-45 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until noodles are tender and lasagna is hot and bubbly. This will take between 8-12 minutes.
10. Allow lasagna to stand for 15 minutes before serving.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the delightful recipe and recipe introduction commentary -- we made it last night --- I left out the whip cream tho --- but the artichoke, garlic, peas and spinach were divine. Mentioned you at dinner to our guests and thought of you fondly,

xo
Mary Beth

Jen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jen said...

My boyfriend was so irritated when i told him i invited my vegetarian friends for dinner, it's not dinner for him unless there is meat! We made this together and it came out perfect! We were all so impressed and loved the different textures with the pine nuts and veggies. He suggested we make it again which is a pretty huge step in his acceptance of dinners without a meat dish! Thank you for the blog, keep up the good work!