Straight from the beautiful hills of Montecucco, Tuscany comes this heavenly recipe for white lasagna, featuring a creamy béchamel sauce. Le Pianore is an agriturismo (a working farm with guest rooms) tucked into a beautiful valley, overlooking mountains, trees, and abundant wildlife, and within easy driving distance of Siena and many other delightful towns and villages. There are horses, donkeys, a large vegetable garden, vineyards and a beautiful yoga studio on this 125-acre property that is also within easy driving distance of Siena and many other delightful towns and villages.
Le Pianore’s vineyards grow a small amount of Merlot and Sangiovese grapes, used to produce their Tiniatus red wine, a full-bodied, easy-drinking, organic wine. A stay at Le Pianore includes homemade multi-course feasts, including this tasty zucchini mushroom lasagna, and copious amounts of wine.
Read more about the Montecucco wine region here.
WHITE VEGETABLE LASAGNA RECIPE
Adapted from a Le Pianore recipe.
For the vegetable layer:
1 medium onion sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium zucchini, grated or sliced into 1/4-inch slices
2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fresh basil, optional
For the cheese mixture:
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese (part skim may also be used)
2 cups fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded or sliced as thin as possible
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons basil or parsley, chopped
For the bechamel sauce:
1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons flour
1/2 cup butter
4 cups milk
1 16-ounce box lasagna noodles, store-bought or hand-made (Le Pianore makes fresh homemade lasagna noodles, but store-bought works well too, as long as you don’t use the no-boil ones. And here’s a little tip: place regular lasagna noodles into a metal or glass container and pour very hot water over them. Soak for 30 minutes and they’ll be tender enough to use in the recipe. Don’t worry, they will finish cooking in the oven).
VEGETABLES: In a large skillet, heat the onion over medium heat. Sauté until the onions are translucent. Add garlic and sauté for a minute more. Add the zucchini and mushrooms and sauté until the vegetables are soft and all of the water has evaporated from them. Add salt and black pepper. Set aside.
CHEESE MIXTURE: Mix together ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, salt, pepper and parsley.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare lasagna noodles as label directs (or by the hot water soaking method above). Drain.
BÉCHAMEL: While noodles are cooking, heat milk in a pan or in the microwave until just warm and set aside. In a medium-sized pot melt the butter over medium-low heat. With a wooden spoon, stir the flour into the melted butter a little bit at a time, until it is fully incorporated, giving you a pale-yellow-colored paste (the ‘roux’). Heat the roux for another minute or so to cook off the taste of raw flour. Using a wire whisk, slowly add the warm milk to the roux, whisking vigorously to make sure it's free of lumps. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for four to five minutes, whisking frequently. The béchamel should have the consistency of a very thick sauce. Remove from heat and rest, stirring occasionally, to cool slightly.
5) ASSEMBLY: Spread a thin layer of Bechamel sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Place a layer of 3 to 4 cooked lasagna noodles, cut to fit into the pan if necessary. Add a thin layer of cheese mixture, followed with a vegetable layer. Sprinkle on some basil if using.
6) Continue layering in this manner until ingredients are used up. Pour the remaining Bechamel sauce over the top. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before slicing.
Serve with a salad of mixed lettuces tossed with your favorite vinaigrette.