May 30, 2014
Poached Egg Topped Spring Vegetable Free-Form Lasagna ♥ The Best Way to Celebrate Spring
I have always loved the look of a free-form lasagna although I am not quite sure why.
There can be downfalls to something labeled free-form. If you are OCD like I am, it will drive you crazy that it looks disorderly. In a lasagnas case, you will want to stop the insides from oozing out onto the plate and the edges remain neat and trim. This is not about the neat, oh no, when I cook it looks like a bomb went off. It is all about the control. In this house, when diner is over, my dish always look like it never saw the light of day while The Nudge always has a slick of whatever sauce was served. Eggs Benedict? He always laughs at my clean plate, wondering how does I do that, or should I say "did I even eat Eggs Benedict?".
All right, I have always been a straightener of pictures, flowers, and table settings. I guess that is why, even with all good intentions of following the recipe for a free-formed lasagna, the minute I start the prep, I can not stop from grabbing a few ramekins and start layering.
This time I was determined. I think.
I will be successful due to the fact that this lasagna has no ooey gooey anything. Things should stay nice and neat in between the pasta sheets as long as I don't bake it too long.
First thing I needed to do was to buy sheets of pasta that when boiled would not be heavy, the way the curly edged ones are. I could have made my own, bought fresh large sheets and cut them to size or just use the Barilla No Boil pasta sheets. I use them all the time when I make lasagnas in those aluminum loaf pans, they fit perfectly and a great size for a lasagna for two.
This time I would boil them and cut them in half. I could have used wonton wrappers (always in my freezer) but a stack of those would really be an appetizer size and I was making mine for dinner.
Another great thing about this recipe is that it does not end with pasta, it ends with the insides out, so the stack is less likely to tilt over. I think I can do this.
Two other things, sorry. I used Swiss chard instead of spinach (because I think it has more flavor), frozen peas (forget finding fresh around here) and braised baby leeks (big time sweet, yum). The recipe called for 4 (6-inch) squares of pasta be cut across the diagonal to create 8 triangles. This would have made two layers of pasta and three layers of filling. I boiled 6 (8-inch) pasta sheets and cut them in half. When I make individual servings of anything I do three or four. Two dinners and one (or two) lunches. When I make pasta, I omit my lunch serving and make three dinners. That's what I did this time.
Normally my last layer is pasta with sauce and melted mozzarella. I broke away from tradition and ended the layering with ricotta and then right after it bakes, a small sprinkling of fresh mozzarella.
Did I forget the poached egg? OMG, I can't forget that. That egg is the reason I put this dish on the menu. Has anyone ever celebrated a Springtime Vegetable Lasagna by placing a perfectly poached egg on top? That egg is the reason for no bechamela sauce. The runny yolk mixed with the drizzle of olive oil, is the sauce. If I had seen this recipe before Easter it would have been on the menu.
These lasagnas are full of spring vegetables and you add the ones you can find in your market, but I think the ones in this recipe are the epitome of what they mean when they say spring vegetables.
With The Nudge traveling, I have no demands on the time to serve this, so I can enjoy the wonderful sunny spring weather we are experiencing after 4 days of torrential rain.
I just might even eat outside.
Asparagus, Spinach, and Spring Pea Lasagna
Makes 6 servings
* Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
* 4 small sheets fresh pasta or 6 Barilla no-boil lasagna sheets
* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; more for pan
* 2 cups loosely packed spinach, stemmed and washed
* 1 cup fresh shelled peas
* 4 medium-thick stalks of asparagus, peeled, trimmed and sliced into 1-inch pieces
* 1/2 cup ricotta
* 1/2 cup light cream
* 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
* Truffle oil (optional)
* 1/4 cup white vinegar
* 3-6 large eggs
* 1/4 cup minced fresh chives
1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to boil over medium-high heat. It should hold enough water to cook the pasta sheets without crowding. And the pasta sheets and cook until done, 3 to 5 minutes.
Carefully lift the pasta sheets out of the water and place them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Use your fingers to keep the sheet separate so they don't stick to one another. When the sheets are cold, remove them from the ice water, drain, and transfer to a large bowl. Add the olive oil and toss the sheets to lightly coat, then cut each sheet on the diagonal to form two triangles.
2. Layer triangles on a baking sheet and cover with a damp towel; set aside or refrigerate for use the following day.
3. Bring a pot of generously salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Place the spinach in a sieve and submerge in the water for one minute. Remove it immediately; transfer the spinach to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Once it is cool; drain the spinach and squeeze the excess the excess water out of the leaves. Set aside.
3. Return the water to a boil, put the peas and asparagus in the sieve and immerse the sieve in the boiling water for three minutes or until the vegetables are just tender. Lift the sieve out of the water and immediately immersed in a bowl of ice water. One cool, left out of the water and let drain.
4. When you're ready to assemble the lasagna, heat the oven to 400° and lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan to poach the eggs.
5. To build the lasagnas, arrange 4 triangles of pasta on the baking sheet. Layer the ingredients on top of the pasta triangles; layer a generous tablespoon of ricotta, some spinach leaves, a few pieces of asparagus and some peas. Add a tablespoon or two of heavy cream and a sprinkle of Parmesan. Lightly season with salt & pepper. Place the remaining triangles of pasta on top of each mound of the vegetables and repeat the layering of ingredients. On top of the top sheet of paste place a few more asparagus and peas, 2 tablespoons more cream, and a light sprinkle more Parmesan. The lasagnas can be refrigerated for up to 3 hours until you are ready to cook them..
6. When ready to cook, place the sheet tray in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese on the lasagna is golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and lightly sprinkle each lasagna with white truffle oil, if desired.
7. Poach the eggs while lasagnas are in the oven. Reduce heat to low, so that the water maintains a slow simmer, add the vinegar. Swirl the water with a spoon and carefully slip in the eggs - crack them in a cup one at a time and tip the edge of the cup about 1/2-inch below the surface of the gently simmering water. Use a spoon to lightly nudge the white toward the yolk and allow to poach for 4-5 minutes, until the whites are set but the yolk is still runny. Remove from the water.
8. Using a spatula, carefully lift and slide a lasagna onto each of four plates. Top with a poached egg and pour any cream left on the tray around the base of the lasagna. Lightly drizzle with truffle oil, if using, sprinkle with chives, and serve immediately.
My Diabetic Recommendation: No recommendations, except eat and enjoy, this is perfect the way it is. One ramekin used half the recommended pasta of three per serving, so half a lasagna was more than enough for me and came in at under18g of carbohydrates. This was a great way to get your pasta fix and along with all those vegetables should be more than acceptable by ADA standards.
This is going on the keeper list.