This is a Jamie Oliver inspired recipe. I was reading “Jamie Cooks Italy” this weekend, digging deep for some carbo-loading inspiration ahead of the 94.7 cycle challenge. Fascinated by the unusual combination of ingredients, and the fact that I had several enormous fennel bulbs in my garden, I decided to give it a try, with a tweak here and there. This makes a great vegetarian pasta bake that you can prepare in advance and then just pop into the oven for a quick, delicious meal.
Here’s what goes in:
4 large leeks, washed and finely sliced
2 bulbs of fennel, washed and finely sliced
A can of white asparagus cuts, drained and roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons of butter
A bunch of thyme (de-stalk the leaves)
1/2 a cup of white wine
1/2 a cup of flour
Salt for seasoning
1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 ball of mozzarella cheese
1 box lasagne sheets (500g)
How to do it:
Heat the butter in a heavy based, deep frying pan. Add the garlic and then add the leeks, fennel and asparagus and thyme leaves. After a few minutes, add the wine. Cook through until tender, stirring frequently. Add the flour to coat all the veg and then slowly pour the milk into the mixture, continuing to stir. This will make a bechamel sauce around the vegetable mix. Stir in salt to taste, and a third of the Parmesan cheese.
Layer sheets of pasta in a greased lasagne dish and then place a layer of sauce over them. Repeat until you have several layers and you have used up the sauce, pasta or both. Preferably end with a sauce layer. Top it with bits of the mozzarella ball, torn by hand and spread across the top and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese.
Bake in an oven at 180* for 30-40 minutes or until your pasta is tender and the top is melted and bubbling away.