I grew up eating lots of very traditional Italian-American lasagna, baked ziti and anything else you could cover in homemade tomato sauce and cheese. And I loved it – I mean who doesn’t!? Garfield the cat was even one of my heroes growing up. I always appreciated his feisty-ness towards his sibling (Odie), his appreciation of napping and of course his love of lasagna.
In the past few years I have yearned for lasagnas with a little more flair, and a little less sauce. I have made a white pumpkin lasagna, and a white lasagna with spinach and pine nuts. I have included a béchamel, and left it out. I have even experimented with different kinds of cheeses.
As the greens of spring have taken over at my local farmer’s market, a lasagna recipe was once again creeping into my head. Peas, fresh herbs…something was simmering.
When I suggested a puree of spring peas with herbs basked into a creamy lasagna, my husband was less than enthusiastic. He responded to the idea saying, “Um..ok. I guess let’s see how it turns out.”
I love it when my husband has to admit he was wrong, and in the case of this lasagna, he had to concede defeat as he shoveled another bite into his mouth. And though I actually hate peas, this lasagna is absolutely out of this world, creamy and full of fresh spring flavors. It’s also perfect for a Shavuot celebration. Pair with a crisp glass of white wine and a simple mixed green salad and you have a complete meal especially appropriate for a June lunch.
I actually ended up making this recipe two ways. Once with regular, store-bough lasagna noodles which was delicious. And a second version with homemade spinach noodles. You can try either – they were both creamy, lighter than you might think and really yummy. It really depends on the amount of work you want to put in. Making your own noodles is delicious, but much more time consuming.
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8 ounces whole milk ricotta
8 ounces mascarpone cheese (or another 8 ounces of ricotta)
12 ounces mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated
¼ cup grated parmesan
2 cups fresh or frozen peas
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp fresh mint
1 Tbsp fresh parsley
1 Tbsp fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
12-15 lasagna noodles or homemade spinach noodles
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Boil a large pot of salted water. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to the pot as the water is coming to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles as directed, around 7-8 minutes. Drain water and layer noodles on a baking sheet drizzled with a smidge of olive oil to prevent sticking. You can also put sheets of parchment paper in between noodles.
In a food processor fitted with blade attachment, pulse peas, herbs and melted butter until desired smoothness.
In a large bowl mix together ricotta, mascarpone, all but 1 cup of the grated mozzarella, parmesan, fresh herbs, egg and the pea mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix until just combined.
Drizzle bottom of a 9X13 baking with olive oil. Layer lasagna noodles so that they overlap just slightly on top of one another. The bottom layer should be 4 noodles. Layer about a third of the cheese-pea mixture on top and smooth using a spatula or back of a spoon.
Repeat with three layers. On top of the third layer of noodles, add the remaining grated mozzarella, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and another drizzle of olive oil.
Cover with tin foil.
Bake for 25-30 minutes covered. Remove foil. Bake for another 10 minutes or until cheese on top is melted and slightly bubbly. Allow to cool before cutting.