Growing up under the care of a mother who’d rather spend time playing in the dirt than spend time in a mall, I have fond memories of the early spring countdown. I love Spring….it’s the time of year when the snow finally disappears for good, giving way to mud and the smell of thawing earth, and green things — shoots and sprouts and buds — begin to make their appearance.
The countdown is on to when we can finally get out and start planting flowers and not worry about one last frost! It’s the time of year where some hunters are out gathering wild things to eat….such as these delicious mushrooms. YUM! Of course, in Minnesota, this is sometimes much later in the season than the rest of country (I remember a snowstorm in May more than once!), so when those signs of spring finally arrive, I get really excited!
When I returned from Rome just a couple weeks ago, the grass looked so much greener and the smell of Spring was heavenly! I knew it was only a matter of time that we’d be enjoying some spring produce peeking up from the ground: wild asparagus my fave!
Score! My mom happened to grab me a couple bunches from our friend a few days before my return so that very night we had fresh asparagus. Perfect Spring Minnesota Meal to come home too! It’s almost therapeutic cleaning up the asparagus and snapping off the ends to prepare for steaming. I can’t wait for the farmers markets and my CSA box again. One can never have enough Asparagus….FRESH ASPARAGUS HERE. Ok, don’t mind if I do. Surely a sign that spring has truly sprung; their vibrant green stalks are a welcome change from a winter’s worth of roasted roots.
One of my favorite ways to eat asparagus is with a runny egg on top. But I just love a runny egg and I love green veggies so there’s no wonder I have this almost weekly, or twice a week during asparagus season! YUM!
In honor of the first spring asparagus of the year, I am sharing this Spring Lasagna I made my dear mom for Mothers’s Day. Greenness, noodles, and cheese….my kind of trifecta! This qualifies as the lightest lasagna ever especially when using Gluten Free Brown Rice noodles. I will not lie however, it does take a bit of prep work. But than again, what lasagna doesn’t. However, this is the best Spring Lasagne ever! It’s fun to make and even prettier to serve! And lets not forget DELICIOUS!
Try making this a relaxation ritual. I love the sounds of snapping asparagus. Reminds me of when I was a kid when my dad received shipments with parts all wrapped up in bubble wrap. I used to love to make the same snapping sounds back than with bubble wrap. Pretend you’re a kid again! I certainly have fun in my kitchen.
So if you’re looking for a dish of goodness that’s not only delicious, but incredibly pretty, this is it! If you’re looking for the perfect dish to serve your guests this weekend night, or even a Sunday brunch, this is it! And best of all, it’s a perfect pre or post run meal! I promise you’ll love it!
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for your pan
- 8 2 1/4-inch-wide lasagna noodles (1/2 pound)
- 1 cup or 8 oz. bag of sweet beans (can use fresh peas)
- 1 cup or bag of frozen artichoke hearts
- 1/2 pound of sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved lengthwise
- 1 pound ricotta (preferably whole-milk)
- 1 (packed) cup shredded, grated, or chopped mozzarella (about 6 ounces)
- 2 teaspoons minced or crushed garlic
- About 1/4 tsp of salt
- Black pepper
- Fresh Pesto of your choice
- 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan, plus more for topping
- Fill a large pot with water, and 1 tablespoon olive oil, and bring to a boil.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F, with a rack in center position. Slick a 9 x 13 inch pan with a little olive oil. Lay out tow kitchen towels on a counter near the sink or one towel for the vegetables and spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray for the noodles.
- Add the noodles to the boiling water, using a dinner knife or something similar to swish in a gentle slinging motion between and among them, to prevent their sticking together. Boil for 2 minutes, than use a tongs to remove pasta by gently lifting them out and place noodles on the oiled pan in a single layer.
- Next return water to a boil. Add the asparagus, beans and sugar snap peas. Boil for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain into colander and refresh with cold water to lock in the bright green. Shake off all the excess water and lay them on a towel and pat them dry.
- Combine the ricotta and mozzarella in a medium-large bowl. Warm the olive oil and garlic briefly by setting in a heat proof bowl on top of a warm pre-heated oven. Add to the ricotta mixture. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
- To assemble the lasagna, spread half the pesto over the noodles in the pan with a rubber spatula, then spoon half the ricotta mixture here an there over the pesto. Try to get the cheese fairly evenly distributed. (There will be gaps.) Scatter half the vegetables over the cheese and sprinkle with a little more than half the Parmesan. Lay the remaining 4 noodles over the Parmesan, then repeat the layers, ending with a light scattering of the remaining Parmesan.
- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until heated through and lightly golden on top. Serve hot or warm