White Lasagna

White Lasagna with Custom Toppings


White Lasagna with Custom Toppings
serves 12-16

10-12 lasagna noodles
olive oil
1 stick butter (8 tablespoons)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 rosemary sprigs
2 thyme sprigs
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
white pepper
1-15 ounce container ricotta cheese
2 cups Fontina cheese, shredded (8 ounces, or any Italian cheese mix)
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (4 ounces)

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta sheets until just al dente, according to the package directions. Drain in a colander and cool under running water, then drain again. Place the pasta on a sheet pan and toss or brush with olive oil to prevent the sheets from sticking together.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion, rosemary, thyme, garlic and a pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the roux is light golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and bring to a boil, then simmer over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Press the béchamel through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard the solids. Season to taste with additional salt and a bit of white pepper and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a deep 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread about 1/2 cup of the béchamel on the bottom of the pan. Arrange a layer of pasta over the béchamel, cutting if needed to fit. Spread 1/4 of the ricotta cheese over the pasta; sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the Fontina and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan. Repeat the layers 3 more times, ending with shredded cheeses.

Tightly cover the baking dish with a piece of foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 45 minutes, until bubbling. Remove from the oven and uncover. Increase oven temp to 425º and bake for an additional 10=15 minutes.

Let rest for 20 minutes and then cut into squares and serve with toppings of choice, such as Roasted Mushrooms, Salsa Verde Italiano, Vegetable Sauté, Grilled Squashes, Italian Sausages, Marinara… the choices are endless and customizable for your guests!
Here’s the link for Salsa Verde Italiano

Roasted Mushrooms
2 pounds chopped mushrooms of any kind (shitake, oyster, cremini, button)
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450º. In a large bowl, toss the mushrooms with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread onto 2 sheet pans and roast for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden and a bit dry. Season with a drizzle of lemon juice.

Grilled/Sautéed Squash Platter with Anchovy-Caper Garlic Oil (optional)
serves about 10

¼ cup olive oil
8 anchovies, drained, dried and minced
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons capers

4 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise, 1/4″ thick (for grilling)
4 large yellow squash, sliced lengthwise, 1/4″ thick (for grilling)
salt and pepper
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
handful of fresh parsley, minced

In a medium to small sized skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat until shimmering. Stir the anchovies, garlic and capers. Simmer over low heat until garlic just begins to smell fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. *This flavored oil is an optional part of the recipe. You can just use any olive oil that you like.*

To grill, light a grill to medium high. Brush the squash slices with a bit of the flavored olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until just tender and nicely charred with grill marks, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter or bowl and top with lemon juice, zest and parsley. Serve with the reserved caper garlic oil.

Alternately, drizzle a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan and cook squashes (cut into round ½” thick pieces ) over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes per side, until just starting to soften. It’s a good idea to cook the squash in batches so you don’t over crowd the pan. Season with additional salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Seasonal Vegetable Sauté
serves 12-15

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2″ pieces
1 bunch broccoli or broccolini, sliced 2″ long pieces

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper cut into thin strips, 2″ long pieces

2 large yellow squash, sliced 1″ thick
2 large zucchinis, sliced 1″ thick
2 -3 large carrots, sliced 1” thick
2 cups corn
3-5 minced garlic cloves
salt and pepper

Blanch asparagus and broccoli in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, about 2 minutes. Drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water. Drain and dry.

In a large, open pan, over medium high heat, add olive oil and sauté shallots and red bell pepper for 3-5 minutes. Add squashes and carrots and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add blanched asparagus and broccolini, corn and garlic and cook 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I love to add a couple of large handfuls of fresh spinach or kale to this mix at the end of the sauté to ramp up the vegetable mix.