Free Form Spring Lasagna

March 17, 2014 Published by Dina 3 Comments

It has taken me a long time to make the adjustment from cooking for five to cooking for two. I had to completely change my thinking and uncharacteristically begin to “think small” in the kitchen. Lasagna is one of those dishes that needed an adjustment. The large pans of lasagna no longer made sense for just the two of us. I am not a big fan of freezing things. Once it’s in the freezer it might as well be in the arctic. I am just as likely to retrieve it as if it was there.

I am not sure about the origin of a free form lasagna. A few years ago it begun popping up in restaurants and magazines and caught my attention. I started making it when I was writing my pasta cookbook (for family) and it stayed in my cooking repertoire ever since. It fits perfectly in every season, using whatever is seasonal and beautiful at the moment. This free form lasagna is a good solution when you only need a couple of servings (or just one) and don’t really want to have leftovers. It’s quick to make, looks fabulous on the plate and has an aura of sophistication making it a good dish to prepare for a small dinner party as well. You can make it with store bought pasta sheets but don’t use the long narrow ones with ruffled edges. I prefer to use plain square pasta sheets that you can buy either dry or fresh. They look better on the plate and it’s easier to assemble the layers with them. While writing the pasta book I was making a lot of home made pasta, some images are included in this post, but clearly for one or two servings you might as well buy the pasta, fresh or dry, from a good source (purchased pasta varies in quality, they are no all the same).

Free form spring lasagna

Homemade pasta with basil leaves

The recipe may seem long but it’s as simple as sautéing a few vegetables,  heating the cream and cooking the pasta. The filling can be anything you like. I make it with a few different vegetables quickly sautéed together, or with butternut squash cut into cubes and baked until tender, or with cheese and spinach, artichokes and more. Whatever you would use in a regular lasagna would work with a free form one as well. I generally make it with white sauce for some reason but I have made it with tomato sauce as well and it is lovely either way. To prepare it you cook everything separately, then assemble by layering the cooked pasta sheets with the filling and sauce and top with cheese. I use 3 or 4 pasta squares per serving. A few minutes in the oven to melt the cheese and there you have it, a beautiful lasagna on individual plates for yourself or your guests.

2 servings.


Ingredients:


6 square pasta sheets (4″ square).

Homemade pasta with basil leaves

Homemade pasta with basil leaves

Vegetables:

2 tablespoons butter
3 cups mixed vegetables, cut diagonally in bite size pieces
(Shitake mushrooms, asparagus spears, broccoli florets, spinach, zucchini, carrot etc.)

Grated parmesan (or grated Romano for a change)

White sauce:

1 1/2 cups cream
1 cup grated cheese (parmesan, romano etc.)
1 tablespoons pepper sauce (for a bit of spice if you want)


Directions:


Free form lasagna with spring vegetables

Free form lasagna with spring vegetables

Pasta:

Bring a pot of water to a boil.
Add salt and then the lasagna sheets.
Cook until they are cooked al dente.
Remove from the water and set aside.
Keep the hot water for now. you can drop the lasagna sheets back in the water to heat them up before assembling the lasagna.

White sauce:

Place cream in a small pot and ring to a boil.
Once boiled, lower heat to medium and continue to cook, whiskin g frequently, until the cream begins to thicken.
Add cheese, and hot pepper sauce and adjust for salt.
Once the cheese melts into the cream remove from heat and set aside.

Vegetables:

Melt the butter in a skillet.
Add the vegetables and cook, stirring, until they are cooked through. This does not take long as they are cut into small pieces.
When the vegetables are cooked through remove from heat and set aside.


To Assemble:


Drizzle some of the white sauce on the bottom of a an individual plate (shallow bowl works best)

Drizzle some of the white sauce on the bottom of a an individual plate (shallow bowl works best)

If the lasagna sheets have cooled drop them back into the hot water to warm up for a few seconds. Lay a sheet of cooked pasta over the sauce.

Layer the vegetables, sauce and pasta, topping with vegetables and some sauce.

Sprinkle parmesan cheese over top.

Optional: before serving bake or broil the lasagna in the oven for just a couple of minutes to melt the cheese and heat up the pasta.

Be careful when you serve as the plates would be hot.


 

Free form spring lasagna

Free form spring lasagna

Free form spring lasagna

Free form spring lasagna

Homemade pasta

Homemade pasta

 

 



 

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