ASPARAGUS LASAGNE (for four)
2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
eight 7 by 3-1/2 inch sheets of instant (no-boil) lasagne (Ronzoni preferred)
¼ stick unsalted butter
1/8 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cups chicken broth
¼ cup water
4 ounces mild goat cheese such as Montrachet
½ teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest, or to taste
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
½ cup heavy cream
- Cut the tips off each asparagus spear and reserve them. In a large shallow baking pan toss the asparagus stalks with half the oil, coating them well, and roast them in a preheated 500* oven, shaking the pans every few minutes, for 5 or 10 minutes, or until they are crisp-tender. Sprinkle the asparagus with salt to taste and let it cool. Cut the roasted asparagus into ½ inch lengths and reserve it.
- In a large bowl of cold water let the sheets of lasagne soak for 15 minutes, or until they are softened. In a saucepan melt the butter, add the flour and cook the roux over moderately low heat, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the broth and the water in a stream, whisking, simmer the mixture for 5 minutes and whisk in the goat cheese, zest and salt to taste, whisking until the sauce is smooth.
- Drain the pasta well, arrange 1 layer of it in a buttered 8 inch square baking dish, and spread with one fourth of the sauce. Top the sauce with one fourth of the reserved roasted asparagus and sprinkle the asparagus with 1/3 cup of the Parmesan. Continue to layer the pasta, sauce, asparagus and Parmesan in the same manner, ending with a sheet of pasta.
- In a bowl beat the cream with a pinch of salt until it holds soft peaks. Arrange the reserved asparagus tips decoratively on the pasta, spoon the cream over the pasta and asparagus tips, spreading it with the back of the spoon, and sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup of Parmesan on top. Bake the lasagne in the middle of a preheated 400* oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until it is golden and bubbling, and let it stand for 10 minutes before serving.
NOTE: This is a delicious accompaniment to baked ham.