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Asparagus lasagna. – The Pasta Project

Asparagus lasagna. – The Pasta Project
Asparagus lasagna. – The Pasta Project


This traditional Italian asparagus lasagna is a light and flavourful asparagus pasta recipe from where I live in Veneto, Italy.  Also known locally as ‘pasticcio di asparagi’ or ‘lasagne agli asparagi’, this is an easy spring lasagna recipe with just a few main ingredients. Perfect for special occasions like Mother’s Day and Easter, as well as Sunday lunch!

Asparagus lasagna (lasagne agli asparagi).

History.

People have been eating asparagus in Europe since 3,000 B.C! The ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans loved them. The Ancient Romans even took asparagus into the Alps to freeze them for the feast of Epicurious and the Emperor Augustus is said to have had ‘an asparagus fleet’ used to transport asparagus all over the Empire!

Of course, nowadays we don’t need to freeze asparagus in the mountains. We have fridges, freezers and other ways to preserve them.

Asparagus lasagna (lasagne agli asparagi) in oven dish ready to serve.Asparagus lasagna (lasagne agli asparagi) in oven dish ready to serve.

Here in Veneto, Northern Italy, asparagus are practically a staple ingredient in the spring kitchen. This is because this region cultivates the most asparagus in Italy. Roadside asparagus sellers are typical during the season and asparagus fields are a common sight.

Needless to say, there are lots of local recipes for asparagus here. However, the most popular ways to serve them are in soup, risotto or with pasta.

Ingredients for aparagus lasagna (lasagne agli asparagi) on marble work top.Ingredients for aparagus lasagna (lasagne agli asparagi) on marble work top.
Gather your ingredients: lasagne, asparagus, leeks, grated cheese and milk, flour, butter and nutmeg for the béchamel.

Ingredients in this asparagus lasagna (lasagne agli asparagi).

As mentioned above this is an easy lasagna. All you need is lasagne pasta sheets, fresh green asparagus, the ingredients for béchamel (if making your own), leeks, grated Parmigiano or vegetarian parmesan and seasoning.

The pasta: You can use homemade egg pasta sheets (lasagne), ready-made fresh pasta or dried lasagne. If using the latter, it’s best to blanch the pasta in boiling water before assembling your asparagus lasagna. Fresh pasta needs to be thin enough to see your fingers through the sheet. Then you don’t have to pre-cook it. I used ready-made fresh lasagne sheets this time.

Someone holding a thin sheet of fresh lasagne with their hand visible behind.Someone holding a thin sheet of fresh lasagne with their hand visible behind.
My lasagne sheets were thin enough to see my hand through them.

The asparagus: You could use fresh green or white asparagus. However, I prefer green. The asparagus in this recipe are roasted before assembling the lasagna. Roasting the asparagus spears really gives them a lovely sweet more concentrated flavour. Plus, the tips get a little crispy in the oven. You can also, steam, boil or sauté the asparagus if you prefer.

Washed asparagus in white colander and discarded stalks in yellow bowl.Washed asparagus in white colander and discarded stalks in yellow bowl.
Step 1 Wash and prepare the asparagus.

The béchamel: Béchamel (white sauce) is pretty easy to make at home and I usually make my own. Of course, you can use ready-made béchamel for a faster prep. However, you may need to thin it a bit with milk or broth as ready-made white sauce is often quite thick.

The leek: I love using leeks in place of onions. They add a sweet oniony flavour which is quite distinctive. You can replace the leeks with a sweet yellow onion or shallots if you prefer.

Asparagus spears on oven tray lined with baking paper.Asparagus spears on oven tray lined with baking paper.
Step 2 Bake the asparagus.

Nutmeg: this spice is a common ingredient in béchamel recipes (besciamella in Italian). I prefer freshly grated nutmeg, but you can add a small pinch of ready ground nutmeg instead. Because this spice has a strong aroma and taste, you only need very little to add a warm, nutty flavour to your white sauce.

The cheese: Since this asparagus lasagna recipe is from Northern Italy, the cheese is traditionally freshly grated Grana or Parmigiano. But, if you want to make this recipe vegetarian, you will need to use a vegetarian parmesan. Italian Grana and Parmigiano are made with animal rennet.

Oven baked asparagus ready on oven tray.Oven baked asparagus ready on oven tray.

Step by step instructions for asparagus lasagna.

Preparation.

1. Wash the asparagus and remove the tough woody ends. The best way to be sure you get the best part only is to bend each asparagus while holding each end and it will break naturally in the right place. You can also just cut them.  

2. Place the asparagus spears on a baking tray lined with oven paper. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt. Then bake until cooked. Depending on the size of your asparagus this may take 15-30 minutes.

Thin slices of leeks in frying pan.Thin slices of leeks in frying pan.
3. Sauté the leeks.

3. While the asparagus are baking, sauté the leeks. First wash your leeks, remove the darker outer leaves, and cut off the ends of the white part where there are sometimes some small roots. Then finely slice the leeks. Sauté in butter with a little olive oil until transparent and beginning to brown very slightly.

Make the béchamel.

4. If you are making your own béchamel. Melt the butter on a low heat in a saucepan big enough to hold at least 1 litre of milk. Once the butter has melted, sift in the flour stirring continuously until you have a paste/roux.

Next add the milk a little at a time and continue to stir constantly. Once you start to get a smooth white sauce, use a handheld whisk to stir out any lumps. When the sauce is thick enough, remove from the heat and add the nutmeg. Your béchamel is thick enough when it coats the back of a wooden spoon if you dip one in the sauce.

The béchamel may thicken even further while you are preparing the rest of the lasagna. Just stir in some more milk if you think it’s too thick. It needs to have the consistency of a thick custard.

Roasted asparagus on oven tray cut into pieces.Roasted asparagus on oven tray cut into pieces.

5. When the asparagus are cooked cut most of them into 3-4 pieces. Leave 4-6 asparagus whole to place on the top of the lasagna.

Assembling the asparagus lasagna.

6. Using a rectangular oven dish, pour some béchamel into the bottom of the dish and spread it evenly. Place 2 sheets of lasagne on top of the white sauce. My ceramic oven dish measured 20 x 27 x 6 cms. This is equivalent to approx 8″ x 11″, but a standard 9″x13″ would work fine. Use more pasta sheets in each layer if necessary.

7. Then spread some cooked leeks and asparagus over the pasta. Next add some grated cheese and more béchamel. Each layer of filling needs to have the ingredients well spread out.

8. Add another layer of pasta sheets, then asparagus and leeks with grated cheese and bèchamel.

A second layer of lasagne sheets on top  of other ingredients in oven dish.A second layer of lasagne sheets on top  of other ingredients in oven dish.

9. Continue until you have used up the leeks and cut asparagus. The final layer of pasta needs to be covered in béchamel and grated cheese with the intact asparagus spaced out on the top.

Top layer of asparagus lasagna with béchamel, grated cheese and whole asparagus spears.Top layer of asparagus lasagna with béchamel, grated cheese and whole asparagus spears.

In total, I made 4 layers of pasta, and the lasagna gave me 4 normal portions.

10. Bake the lasagna in a preheated oven at 180°c (356°F )for 20-30 minutes until the top is browned and the pasta is cooked. To check the pasta for doneness, pierce it with a sharp knife.

Ready asparagus lasagna in oven dish.Ready asparagus lasagna in oven dish.

Let you lasagna rest before serving.

It is very important to let your asparagus lasagna rest for some time before serving. Of course, the lasagna will be scalding hot straight out of the oven. But, resting it lets the dish firm up a bit. If you serve asparagus lasagna—or any lasagna—direct from the oven, it may fall apart when you serve it.

The longer you wait, the firmer the dish will be. A 10-15 minute wait is the minimum, but you can let it rest for up to 30 minutes. And don’t worry, it will still be nice and warm.

One serving of asparagus lasagna in a white bowl.One serving of asparagus lasagna in a white bowl.
Is this recipe vegetarian?

Yes, if you use a vegetarian cheese. The parmigiano or grana cheese is the only ingredient that isn’t vegetarian as both are made with animal rennet.

Can I make this recipe gluten free?

Yes, you can! This lasagna is easily made gluten free by using gluten free pasta sheets and gluten free flour in the bèchamel.

What to do with leftovers.

I don’t like freezing cooked pasta, so I don’t recommend freezing leftovers of this asparagus lasagna. However, leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Reheat them in the microwave or in a hot oven, covered with aluminium foil.

Ingredient substitutions and additions.

This recipe is the simplest Italian lasagne agli asparagi. You can add other vegetables along with the asparagus and leeks. I think, spinach, mushrooms and zucchini would go really well. Of course these would need to be sautéed or cooked beforehand.

If you would like to add some protein, I suggest chopped cooked ham, or fried pancetta or bacon. Alternatively, some sautéed shrimp would be lovely.

Pin for later.

Long verticle image of asparagus lasagna with text for Pinterest.Long verticle image of asparagus lasagna with text for Pinterest.

Let me know what you think.

I really love how easy this asparagus lasagna is to make. It doesn’t take that long to make and calls for just a few ingredients. This is now one of the recipes on my impress your guests list. I’m sure if you try it, you’ll be adding it to yours too!

If you do try this Northern Italian lasagne agli asparagi, please let me know what you think! Write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.

Your feedback means a lot to me!

Buon appetito!

Other asparagus pasta recipes to try.

  1. Carbonara with asparagus.
  2. Spaghetti with asparagus and walnuts.
  3. Salmon and asparagus lasagna
  4. Asparagus and shrimp pasta
Asparagus lasagna (lasagne agli asparagi).Asparagus lasagna (lasagne agli asparagi).

Asparagus Lasagna (Lasagne agli Asparagi).

Jacqui

This traditional Northern Italian asparagus lasagna is a light and flavourful asparagus pasta recipe. Also known locally as ‘pasticcio di asparagi’ or ‘lasagne agli asparagi’, this is an easy spring lasagna recipe with just a few main ingredients.

Prep Time 30 minutes

Cook Time 1 hour

Course Dinner, lunch, Main Course, starter

Cuisine Italian, Mediterranean, Northern Italy, Veneto

Servings 4

Calories 828 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 rectangular ceramic or pyrex oven dish mine is 20 x 27 x 6 cm . A standard 9″ x13″ would work fine.

  • 1 saucepan for béchamel.

  • 1 flat oven tray to bake asparagus.

  • 1 small frying pan to sauté leeks.

Ingredients 

 

  • 9-10 ounces fresh lasagne sheets
  • 1-2 leeks
  • 2.2 pounds fresh green asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil.
  • 5 ounces Parmigiano or Grana cheese or vegetarian parmesan.

For the bèchamel

  • 2 pints fresh milk you may need a little more.
  • 3.5 ounces butter plus a little more to sauté leeks.
  • 3.5 ounces flour Italian ’00’ flour or all-purpose flour.
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper. to taste

Instructions 

Prepare the lasagna ingredients.

  • Wash the asparagus and remove the tough woody ends. The best way to be sure you get the best part only is to bend each asparagus while holding each end and it will break naturally in the right place. You can also just cut them. 

  • Place the asparagus spears on a baking tray lined with oven paper. Sprinkle with the olive oil and some salt. Then bake until cooked. Depending on the size of your asparagus this may take 15-30 minutes.

  • While the asparagus are baking, sauté the leeks. First wash your leeks, remove the darker outer leaves, and cut off the ends of the white part where there are sometimes some small roots. Then finely slice the leeks. Sauté in butter with a little olive oil until transparent and beginning to brown very slightly.

  • When the asparagus are cooked cut most of them into 3-4 pieces. Leave 4-6 asparagus whole to place on the top of the lasagna.

Make the béchamel

  • If you are making your own béchamel. Melt the butter on a low heat in a saucepan big enough to hold at least 1 litre of milk (2 pints). Once the butter has melted, sift in the flour stirring continuously until you have a paste/roux.

  • Next add the milk a little at a time and continue to stir constantly. Once you start to get a smooth white sauce, use a handheld whisk to stir out any lumps. When the sauce is thick enough, remove from the heat and add the nutmeg. Your béchamel is thick enough when it coats the back of a wooden spoon if you dip one in the sauce.

  • The béchamel may thicken even further while you are preparing the rest of the lasagna. Just stir in some more milk if you think it’s too thick. It needs to have the consistency of a thick custard.

Assemble and bake your asparagus lasagna.

  • Using a rectangular oven dish, pour some béchamel into the bottom of the dish and spread it evenly Place 2 sheets of lasagne on top of the white sauce. Then spread some leeks and asparagus over the pasta.

  • Next add some grated cheese and more béchamel. Each layer of filling needs to have the ingredients well spread out. Add another layer of pasta sheets, then asparagus and leeks with grated cheese and bèchamel.

  • Continue until you have used up the leeks and cut asparagus. The final layer of pasta needs to be covered in béchamel and grated cheese with the intact asparagus spaced out on the top.

  • Bake the lasagna in a preheated oven at 180°c for 20-30 minutes until the top is browned and the pasta is cooked. Let your lasagna rest for at least 5-10 minutes before serving.

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Notes

In total, I made 4 layers of pasta, and the lasagna gave me 4 normal portions.
For info about leftovers and ingredient substitutions or additions see main text above.
To make this recipe 100% vegetarian, replace Italian Parmigiano or Grana cheese with vegetarian parmesan.
To make this recipe gluten free, use gluten free pasta sheets and gluten free flour in the béchamel sauce.

Nutrition

Calories: 828kcalCarbohydrates: 79gProtein: 36gFat: 43gSaturated Fat: 24gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 152mgSodium: 844mgPotassium: 1079mgFiber: 6gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 3567IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 803mgIron: 9mg

Keyword asparagus, asparagus pasta, lasagna, lasagne al forno

If you are interested in learning how to make homemade pasta and different types of gnocchi, check out my shop page for some great video online courses from my friends in Rome! Nothing beats learning to make pasta from Italians! Plus while you’re there why not order a copy of one of my pasta recipe cookbooks or checkout some recommended pasta making tools?

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