Even though you can buy asparagus from South America out of season, I think of this easy meatless entrée as a sign of spring. Asparagus is tastier if you buy it locally and in season. All the thicknesses are fine with me – from pencil-thin spears to thick stalks. However, I recommend that if the asparagus is thicker than, say, one-third of an inch, you should peel it from right below the tip to the end of the stalk. Break off the woody section of the stems first, which usually means the bottom inch or so. By the way, there is no reason to put this recipe on the shelf when asparagus is out of season. It’s just as delicious with broccoli florets or sautéed spinach. This recipe from Sara’s Secrets for Weeknight Meals (page 126) is featured on Episode 101 of my public television show, Sara’s Weeknight Meals. Go to Weeknight Meals to find preparation, equipment, and ingredient tips.
Quick Asparagus Lasagna
Hands-on-time: 20 minutes
Total preparation time: 65 minutes
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly milled black pepper
1 pound asparagus, trimmed
1 medium onion, halved and sliced (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, sliced (about 2 teaspoons)
One 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
18 refrigerated wonton skins
8 ounces Italian Fontina cheese, coarsely grated (about 2 cups)
Preheat the broiler to high. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet and a lasagna pan (9-by 13-inches roughly). Combine the oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a shallow bowl. Peel the lower stalks of the asparagus if they are thicker than 1/3 inch. Toss the asparagus in the oil mixture and arrange at one end of the oiled baking sheet. Toss the onion and garlic in any remaining oil in the same bowl and arrange them on the other end of the baking sheet. Broil until the edges just begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
Reduce the oven to 375°F. Combine the onion and garlic with the ricotta, flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a blender; puree until smooth. Cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Arrange 6 wonton skins in the bottom of the pan. Top with half the asparagus, one-third of the ricotta mixture, and one-third of the Fontina. Add another 6 wonton skins, the remaining asparagus, and another third of the ricotta mixture and Fontina. Top with the remaining wonton skins, ricotta mixture, and Fontina.
Bake the lasagna in the top third of the oven, 30 to 35 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned.
Note: On the show I added the onions and garlic to the asparagus; if you prefer to do that rather than purée them with the ricotta, that is fine.