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Oliver's Twist- Summer Vegetable Lasagna

by Marjan


When unexpected life events derail you from pursuing your passion, never give up as hope will spring back up to inspire once more. Two years ago, my love for cooking and developing recipes was forced off track. Now with California's shelter-in-place, having to prepare three meals a day for my family further became a monotonous chore vs. joyful expression of love. With a second wave of CV-19, it appears I have to get back on track and create dishes and recipes which will inspire me to cook dishes worthy of our devoted Savorychicks fans and hopefully inspire you to try new recipes!


Thanks to Jamie Oliver's Youtube recipe for Summer Vegetable Lasagna, there is a flicker of joy in my heart once again for cooking. Love and passion, the main ingredients in any recipe, exud from Jamie's presentation. Asparagus, mint, lemon zest, green peas and onion blended with cottage cheese and anchovies was a new twist for me. Prior to this recipe, I had never cooked with anchovies or cottage cheese; rather I always enjoyed them cold on a cracker or in salad. Therefore, I was intrigued and had to try Jamie Oliver's recipe. Certainly delighted I did! Adding touches of my Californian inspired flavors, I hope to make Jamie proud!


Creamy, healthy, delicious, summer vegetables served in layers of comforting lasagna noodles topped with cheese has placed me back on track for cooking. A vegetarian option is to omit anchovies and substitute vegetable instead of chicken stock.

Cooking with inspiration and passion makes each meal more delicious. Adding and substituting a few ingredients and techniques, I'm hoping Oliver will not mind my Twist on his already perfect recipe.






Ingredients:
3 bunches of asparagus (approximately 2+ lbs.)
5 green onions; white and green parts chopped
6-7 cloves of garlic; minced
16 oz. frozen green peas
15 oz. cannellini beans (cook from scratch or use can of beans)
16 oz. whole milk cottage cheese
1 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
4 sardines (optional)
1 cup organic chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 cup chopped mint
4-5 sprigs of thyme finely chopped (or 1/4 teaspoon dry thyme)
zest of 1 large lemon
salt, white and black pepper
chili flakes (optional)
butter
olive oil
lasagna noodles (does not need to be boiled)
lasagna baking dish
béchamel sauce (or substitue with 8 oz. cottage cheese)

Prepare asparagus by discarding bottom one inch (which tends to be tough and difficult to chew). Cut heads of asparagus and reserve to be used later. Chop remaining stalks into small (approximately 1/4 inch) pieces. In a large pan, melt 1/4 cup butter; add 1/3 cup olive oil. When oil becomes hot, add asparagus stalk and cook until slightly tender (3-4 minutes) over medium heat. Add green onions, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon each white and black pepper. For a little extra heat, add 1/3 teaspoon of chili flakes (optional). Stir in anchovies and chicken stock. Bring to a gentle boil until anchovies become partially emulsified. Add mint, lemon zest and frozen green beans; once thawed and cooked, mash vegetable base with back of cooking spatula until 1/2 of the ingredients are roughly mashed. Toss in cannellini beans, turn heat off and set aside.

Grease bottom and sides of baking dish. Ladle 2-3 spatulas of vegetable base just to cover the bottom of baking dish. Arrange uncooked lasagna noodles to cover vegetable. Top and cover noodles with cottage cheese; sprinkle 1 cup parmesan over cottage cheese. Ladle remaining vegetable base over cheese followed by second layer of noodles on top.

Preheat oven 350°F.

Prepare béchamel sauce (cottage cheese blended with 1/4 cup of water can be substituted in place of béchamel sauce).  Pour sauce over noodles and spread to cover entire surface of noodles. Sprinkle remaining parmesan cheese on top. In a small bowl, toss asparagus and thyme with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and arrange on top of cheese. Bake for 40 minutes; finish by broiling on high heat for 3-4 minutes to gratienate.  Remove from oven to rest for 15 minutes prior to serving.






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