Perfect Pancetta and Asparagus Lasagna for a 4th of July Potluck
Invited to a 4th of July block party and need to arrive with a homerun
Here is your answer.
Pancetta and Asparagus Lasagna courtesy of Giada.
(Had the opportunity to chat with Giada at South Coast Plaza last year.
And yes, like all of those famous women, she is tiny.tiny.tiny. Much like Lea Michele, which you can read about HERE)
So, onto the perfect summer time recipe. Easy to make too. You will not miss “ordinary” tomatoes based lasagna after you make this. It’s easy, fairly inexpensive, and tasty. The sun-dried tomatoes, pancetta and basil blend so well with the asparagus, you will be delightfully surprised.
Here are the cast of characters…
Notice the Pancetta front and center? Use two of these (I get mine at Trader Joes). If you cannot find this pre-cubed delight then get busy chopping up some bacon, the more the better. Amen.
Let’s get started. Grab those sun-dried tomatoes in oil and drain them.
Rinse your basil (again Trader Joes) and let it dry in a colander.
Plop those sun-dried tomatoes and basil in a food processor or blender
and flip the switch.
put the mixture in a bowl and add your parmesan cheese.
Looking good. Set this aside until later.
Time to small dice an onion. There is no hard and fast trick to avoid the tears.
My advice, practice your knife skills and dice quickly (but safely). Set these guys a side, wash your hand and grab a Kleenex.
Now lets give the asparagus some attention.
Depending on the freshness, remove the woody ends, this brunch was QUITE fresh, requiring very little removal.
Now chop the remaining bunch into bit sized pieces. Set these aside along with the diced onion.
Time for the pancetta. I like to err on the side of more is more. I use two packages. If you cannot find diced Pancetta, use diced bacon. Seek out a smoky, thickly cut bacon. Costco has a pre-cooked Hormel number that would be a perfect alternative. Click HERE, and scroll down to view this great bacon find in a previous Costco post.
Stir occasionally over medium heat.
That looks good, slightly browned and crispy, but not over cooked.
Using a slotted spoon, (yes, my spoon in well-loved and has a crack in it), remove the fried piggy product to drain on a paper towel.
Good, now you have a clean pancetta greased pan. Add a touch more olive oil so the diced onions hit the grease happy.
Let the onions get acquainted with the hot pan until they are slightly softer compared to their arrival.
Now add the minced garlic. Yes, I used store-bought to save time and cut corners, please do not judge me. Let’s not focus on this and simply remember, a key garlic tip. While sautéing, do not add garlic until the last moment. Garlic has a tendency to burn quickly. Add it at the last-minute, giving it enough time for its flavor to incorporate with the other ingredients. Infused onions with garlic is dreamy, burnt garlic is yucky. Above, I dumped in the garlic, stirred it around, let twenty seconds pass and then added the next ingredient.
Uncooked asparagus is the next member to join the party. Dump it in.
Let the asparagus get warm and cozy for about 3-4 minutes. Just to soften. Remember after you assemble the lasagna, the dish will be baked for 25 minutes. Try not to overcook your ingredients. (Tip – use thin asparagus, the thick stuff takes longer to cook and the onions and garlic get grouchy [overcooked]. Once this mixture becomes acquainted with each other, turn the fire off so you can focus on the next step.
Dump your ricotta into a big bowl.
Then grab your pan of onion/garlic/asparagus goodness and dump it in. Mix it together like cake batter. Good job!
Since we are taking this to a 4th of July BBQ, get your transportable baking pan ready,
Spray it with non-stick canola oil. I like to think of it as insurance. No stickage when serving.
Now on to the fun part, sprinkle some of the sun-dried tomato mixture on the bottom.
Then grab your noodles. I love/use these from Claro’s in Southern California. Pre-cooked pasta sheets. No muss no fuss.
These sheets cut the work out of soaking your dried lasagna noodles in boiling water for 15 minutes.
Place a layer of lasagna sheets on top of the basil/sun-dried tomato/parmesan mixture.
Next, add a layer of the asparagus mixture, about half.
Then the pancetta and/or bacon.
Next sprinkle some mozzarella cheese and remaining Parmesan
Then sprinkle more of the sun-dried tomato mixture.
Repeat for 1 more layer
There you go, you can do this. Almost done!
Now dot the top with butter.
If you simply cannot stand it and want to eat your creation now. Throw that baby into a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Bake it until the ingredients are warm and the cheese is melted. (It’s okay you can make another one for that 4th of July BBQ Potluck). Otherwise,
you may store it in your refrigerator to bake prior to the festivities. Furthermore, If you had something else planned for your 4th of July potluck, then throw your creation into the freezer and whip it out when you don’t feel like cooking during the dog days of August. Relax now, you did a great job.
Keeping it real friends, who wants to help me wash?
HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY FRIENDS
Hope you are having a delightful summer.
Asparagus Lasagna Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
- 6 to 8 servings
- 9 lasagna sheets, fresh or dried
- 1 teaspoon olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
- 2 (8.5-ounce) jars sun-dried tomatoes, drained
- 1 1/2 packed cups fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus 3/4 cup
- 1/4 pound pancetta, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 bunches asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes for dried pasta or 2 to 3 minutes for fresh pasta. Drain pasta.
In a food processor combine the sun-dried tomatoes and basil. Pulse until the mixture is combined. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan. Set aside.
In a large skillet brown the pancetta until crisp. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, onion, and garlic and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add asparagus and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the ricotta, salt, and pepper and stir to combine.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a 9 by 13-inch baking dish sprinkle some of the sun-dried tomato mixture on the bottom of the casserole dish. Place some lasagna sheets, then half asparagus mixture. Next sprinkle some mozzarella cheese and some remaining Parmesan. Continue for 1 more layer. Top with lasagna sheets, some sun-dried tomato mixture, mozzarella, and Parmesan. Dot the top with butter. Bake until the ingredients are warm and the cheese is melted, about 25 minutes.