I was a little bit stressed the past few weeks…too many things on the calendar, too many requests from too many people who just never seemed to have the same opinion. It caused me to turn my computer off and do the one thing that I love most…veg out in my kitchen and cook. The reason I originally got into wine like I did was because I loved to cook, and loved to live like Julia Child who always cooked with a glass of wine in hand. A little for the chef, a little for the stew, a little more for the chef, and so on.
This led me to an Italian inspired afternoon, once again creating a marinara from the Duckworth Truffle Vodka, and some fresh, homemade ricotta inspired by an appetizer Gary and I had on a recent trip to New York. Once both complete I knew the ideal use to incorporate both, though not my normal dish, a veggie lasagna with mushrooms, zucchini, garlic and carrots, lots of fresh ricotta and parmesan, marinara and a quick bechamel sauce. Rich, hearty and delicious. Completely indulgent, but made in a small casserole to feed just the two of us. Serve with your favorite Sangiovese, we chose a Chianti Classico from Badia a Coltibuono and Piccini.
6-9 lasagna pasta sheets, we used the kind that you don’t have to cook first before layering. If you get the kind you need to cook first, cook until al dente in boiling, salted water, drain and set aside. (enough sheets to cover the baking dish in an even layer across 3 times.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 zucchini squash, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
6 ounces mushrooms, Crimini or button, diced
1/2 white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup red wine
Salt and pepper
for the bechamel –
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2/3 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and pepper
pinch red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup Duckworth Truffle Marinara (recipe through link)
1 cup Fresh ricotta (recipe through link)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Make the bechamel – Melt butter in a small sauce pan. Whisk in flour, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add garlic, whisking constantly to ensure it won’t burn. Whisk in milk and continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes, whisking constantly. Remove the whisk and using a wooden spoon stir in the red pepper and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Turn heat off and set aside.
Make the marinara. Set aside.
Make the ricotta. Set aside.
In a large skillet or Dutch oven heat the oil over medium-low heat and add the vegetables. Stirring to coat, then let saute until tender. Season with salt and pepper, about 1/2 teaspoon of each. Add the wine and bring to a boil, then simmer until the wine is almost completely evaporated. Add the basil. Turn off heat and let cool slightly. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Assemble lasagna by first spraying a casserole dish with non-stick spray. Add a tablespoon of bechamel to the bottom of the casserole dish. Add 2 tablespoons marinara on top of the bechamel. Top with one layer of pasta sheets. Add a layer of 1/2 of the vegetables on top of the sheets, topped with about 1/3 cup ricotta and a sprinkle of parmesan.
Add a layer of marinara on top of the cheese. Repeat, layer on pasta sheets, a thin layer of bechamel, remaining veggies, 1/3 cup cheese, marinara and pasta. Top the last layer with a bit more marinara, parmesan and ricotta. Cover with foil. Place casserole dish on a baking sheet (in case it bubbles over) and in the oven. Bake for 40 minutes, remove foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbly. Let cool slightly and serve.