Asparagus, Fennel and Leek Lasagne

This recipe was inspired by an old favourite that I’ve been ordering at our local Italian restaurant for close on 20 years now. It’s made even better because of a Jamie Oliver version that turns it into a one-pot wonder. And if “eat more vegetables” has become your mantra, you’ll be delighted that you stumbled upon this delectable veggie recipe.

Here’s what goes in:
4 large leeks, washed and finely sliced
4 small bulbs fennel (about 200g), washed and finely sliced
1 pack asparagus spears (150-200g), roughly chopped
Extra green asparagus for serving
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons butter
A bunch of thyme (leaves de-stalked)
1 cup white wine
½ cup flour
1 litre milk
Salt for seasoning
Origanum for seasoning
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 ball mozzarella cheese (about 150g)
1 box lasagne sheets (500g)

How to do it:
Preheat your oven to 180º. In a deep, heavy-based frying pan, melt the butter and sauté the garlic, leeks, fennel, asparagus and thyme leaves in this for a few minutes. Add the wine and continue to cook through until the liquid has reduced. Sprinkle the flour evenly over all the vegetables, and as you stir, slowly pour the milk into the mixture. Stir continuously until you have a thick bechamel sauce. Season with salt and add a third of the Parmesan cheese.
Grease your lasagne dish (or rectangular oven-proof dish) and layer sheets of pasta followed by
sauce. Repeat until you have several layers and you have used up all the sauce, preferably ending with a sauce layer. Sprinkle a bit of origanum over this and top with torn mozzarella and the remaining Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the pasta is tender and the cheese has melted into a golden crust and is bubbling away at the sides. Garnish with lightly steamed asparagus for some summer crunch and colour.

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