There an adorable young Italian woman whose blog I follow. Her name is Alida, she was born in Friuli in North Eastern Italy, and her blog is My Little Italian Kitchen.
I follow her on Facebook as well, because her daily food photos make me happy. Like these. So colorful and enticing!
Although now living in London, Alida travels often throughout Italy, visiting artisanal bakers and cheese makers, and has also won cooking competitions. Let’s just say she knows what she’s doing, and is passionate about Italian food.
To quote Alida, “Cooking is an expression of who you are and your personality. You have to put your whole self into it: your passion, feeling and experiences all go into the food and you become part of the recipe.”
In the spring of 2017, Alida posted a recipe for Asparagus Ham Lasagna that I couldn’t ignore. “Traditional” lasagna is so wonderful, but I love other varieties as well, even meatless varieties. It’s my idea of comfort food.
Fresh pasta sheets, bechamel, a purée of asparagus, ham, asparagus pieces, and Parmesan, all layered and baked to perfect deliciousness! I can’t believe I’ve waited a year to make it. Plus, it was an excuse to finally use my Kitchen Aid pasta rolling attachment.
Ham and Asparagus Lasagna
fresh lasagne sheets – 400 g – about 15 sheets
fresh asparagus – 700 g – 6 cups
grated parmesan cheese – to sprinkle
ham – 240 g – 1 + 2/3 cup
butter – knob
For the bechamel sauce:
milk – 1,5 Liters – 1.58 qt
butter – 100 g – 1/2 cup
plain flour – 80 g – 3/4 cup
grated nutmeg – pinch
salt and pepper
The pasta dough I started with included 3 eggs plus 2 yolks, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Whisk the eggs and olive oil together and gradually add flour until a dough forms. Turn out onto a slightly floured board, knead a minute, then wrap up in plastic wrap and let sit at least 30 minutes to rest.
Roll out the lasagna sheets to the desired thickness. They can be a little thicker than sheets you would use for making ravioli. I used #6 on my attachment.
Cut to 13″ lengths and set aside.
Clean and peel the asparagus if they are large. Remove the thicker ends and cut the tips off. Cut the asparagus in small pieces and cook them in salty water. I cooked the tips first just to keep it simple.
Whiz the stems into a purée and set aside.
Make the bechamel and set aside; I’ve included a link to my own in case you’ve never made it before.
Have the grated Parmesan and ham handy.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13″ x 9″ baking dish.
When you’re ready to prepare the lasagna, add some bechamel to the bottom of the baking dish and cover with a few lasagna sheets.
Add some asparagus purée, ham, cheese, and more sauce. Cover again with lasagna sheets.
Continue layering. On the top, make sure there is bechamel, ham, cheese, and the remaining asparagus.
Bake, covered, for 35 minutes, then remove the foil and bake another 20 minutes.
Let the lasagna sit for about 30 minutes before cutting up the servings.
The lasagna actually sliced very well while it was still warm.
You can see the lovely layers on white sauce, ham, asparagus puree, and asparagus tips.
I sliced the asparagus tips lengthwise after they had cooked and cooled, because I felt they were quite thick.
I love traditional lasagna, but this is definitely second best! And in spite of the bechamel, this lasagna doesn’t seem as heavy as traditional, probably because the only meat is thinly shaved ham. I’ll definitely be making this again!