I had some of my favorite ladies over for dinner on Sunday night when I experimented with heartier dishes that would go with wine from the Piemonte region of Italy. If only the temperature outside paired as well! My travel agent aunt extraordinaire Susan and cousins Stacie and Justyne (who happens to also be the best dining out date in town) sat down to braised lamb, chanterelle risotto and this pea lasagna, served family-style. The lasagna was made with chive and rosemary that I picked up at Teena’s Pride the day before. So grab yourself a nice Barbera d’Alba, Barbaresco, Dolcetto – or Barolo if you’re feeling indulgent – and whip up this fresh take on the traditional layered dish.
Pea lasagna with farm fresh herbs
Serves: at least 4
Cooking time: 30 minutes
3/4 box of lasagna, about 10 sheets (Barilla or Di Cecco have best quality to price ratio, in my opinion)
1 small box of frozen peas (or 4 cups fresh if you have the time, but frozen works just as well)
1 container of fresh ricotta
1 large shallot, or 2 medium, finely chopped
4 tablespoons x-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used chive and rosemary because it was what I had. I think thyme would also go very well with chive, if you are drinking a lighter wine. The heartiness of rosemary would stand up well to what my Italian wine professor would call ‘a wine for meditation,’ the king of Italian wines, which is of course the Barolo.)
2 cups of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
salt and pepper to taste
large sauce pan
medium utility bowl
9″ ceramic baking dish (mine was round, but any shape you like or have works)
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Bring 4 quarts of salted water to boil in the large sauce pan and cook lasagna sheets until very al dente (about 7 minutes.) Drain into a colander and run cool water and place in the utility bowl. Drizzle a tablespoon of the olive oil on the sheets to coat and set aside.
In the bottom of the pan in which you cooked the pasta, add 2 1/2 tablespoons of the x-virgin olive oil and sweat the shallot on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Once translucent, add the peas, herbs and salt and pepper to taste and stir for a minute (a little longer if your peas just came out of the freezer.) Remove from heat.
Take the baking dish and thinly coat the bottom and edges with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil. Add the first sheet of lasagna to the bottom of the dish and begin layering. Lasagna + ricotta + pea mixture. Repeat until you reach the top of the dish. The top layer should be peas (not pasta or you will have a pasta chip when it comes out of the oven!) Then cover the top layer thoroughly and thickly with the Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Place in the oven for 15 minutes or until the top is pale golden brown.
Quick note on the photos: They aren’t meant as a “step by step” visual instruction of how to make this dish for a few reasons. First, I didn’t snap shots of every step of the process. Second, I layered the opposite way (peas first) which, as you’ll see from my recipe, I do not recommend… Ricotta lays down best on pasta, not tiny green pellets! If you decide to make it, I would love to see photos of your finished product, especially because I didn’t capture mine, so feel free to send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.