Pesto Green Veggies “Lasagna”

I admit it.  I am bribing my kids with frozen blueberries so I can write up this recipe.  But a bit of obfuscation is not necessarily a bad thing, right? So when I’ve been honing this recipe from a long-ago Yummy Mummy clipping, I’ve been covertly dosing my kids with big helpings of iron rich, green vegetables like Brussels sprouts, spinach, and leeks masked by cheeses and pasta sauces.  But this is the best one EVER.

The finished "lasagna." Delicious!

The finished “lasagna.” Delicious!

On a side note, there are so many ways to make lasagna – some with béchamel, some with marinara… But we love the easy, straightforward blending of pesto, veggies, cheese, and a few lasagna sheets for structure.  Should you opt to skip the pasta sheets, it will be more like a green frittata in texture but still delicious… But we’re an Italian American household.  Pasta is a bit ingrained in our thighs.

Green Pesto “Lasagna”

  • 1 cup+ of green pesto (either traditional basil/pine nut or spinach/walnut.  Recipe to make and freeze here: http://abisfarmhousekitchen.com/?p=294
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1&1/2 cups brussels sprouts quartered and bottoms removed
  • 1 bunch asparagus cut into 2” pieces, bottom stalks removed.
  • 1 bag pre-washed spinach
  • 2 leeks (white and light green parts only) sliced halfway and then thinly sliced
  • Kosher Salt & fresh pepper
  • 5-7 sheets of lasagna pasta sheets – precook according to directions (usually only a few minutes).  Drain well.
  • 1 16 oz whole milk Ricotta
  • 2 cups Mozzarella (cut into chunks)
  • 1 handful shredded cheese for topping, whatever you like.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Warm olive oil over Medium High heat in a large pan or wok.  Saute brussel sprouts, asparagus pieces, and leeks for 3-4 minutes.  Add in spinach and pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook until barely wilted, another 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Green Veggies Sauteed

Green Veggies Sauteed (before spinach).  Notice the rustic chop.  Easy!

In a large flat casserole pan, spoon and smear pesto over bottom.  We used my Spinach Walnut Pesto tonight.photo 2-50

Place 3-4 lasagna sheets over the top.  photo 3-37

Spoon half of the green vegetable mixture over the pasta.  Next, spoon ½ of the ricotta cheese inevenly spaced globs on top of the veggies layer. Between the blobs of ricotta, put chunks of mozzarella.photo 4-22

Place 3 lasagna sheets over the cheese.  It’s fine if there are gaps between the layers – you don’t need too much pasta in this dish.  Cover this second layer of pasta with remaining pesto sauce.photo 5-12

Cover with remaining veggies medley and cover with chunks of ricotta cheese and mozzarella.  Sprinkle that last handful of whatever shredded cheese you have on hand.  Last night, we used jack cheese.

Cook uncovered at 350’ for 30-35 minutes.  Crank heat up to 450 and brown the cheese for 10 additional minutes (if needed).

Remove from heat and let the dish stand undisturbed for 5-10 minutes — this lets oils cool.  Very important!  Serve immediately in wide bowls and with a solid wine like Annadel’s 2010 Estate Blend, 2012 Chardonnay (seen here), or Muscardini Cellar’s Sangiovese.

Anni thinks "this pasta should wear a crown."

Anni thinks “this pasta should wear a crown.”

Happy Eating!

 

 

 

Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

Lunch today

Lunch today

Few things make me glow brighter than a proper tea.  Mom and I have actually traveled to some fun places while I was growing up for High Tea. Spots like the Plaza in New York or the Empress Hotel in Victoria, Canada.  It was even part of my etiquette curriculum in Finishing School.  How to pour tea correctly (opposite hand always on lid), how to serve  jam (on the plate with the provided spoon, never on scone), and the correct order in which to devour goodies (savory to sweet, not the reverse).  There wasn’t a lesson on how to surprise Valets though.  When in Canada, the Empress Valets weren’t quite sure what to do with our rented Vespas…!

Empress Hotel in Victoria, Canada. Still the Queen of Teas in my book

Empress Hotel in Victoria, Canada. Still Queen of High Tea.

As I’ve grown older, my love for the ritual in a good tea has only cemented in the way of a WASP of British decent (albeit in 1622).  I love the harmony and elegance of dressing up for friends and female family in pearls and heels to toast each other with piping hot Earl Gray and enjoy coiffed tea sandwiches, strawberries with creme freche, scones topped with fruit compotes, mini chocolate cream eclairs, and the very languid joy of proper Champagne.  Another etiquette lesson: the fine Champagnes made in the Methode de Champenoise have small, almost teeny bubbles of effervescence.

Today, I felt inspired by old pictures I found of tea parties past with my Mom and grandmother, Mima.  Every Christmas we invited friends, family, and members of the community we respected and admired.  Girls only.  We’d slave for days baking and copying tea sandwiches from old recipes.  Today, Anni asked to play “tea party” and I made an old favorite: Cucumber Tea Sandwiches.  But you don’t need a little girl to enjoy this treat.  Sitting with an iced tea and a book in the garden shade sounds beyond heavenly!

Cucumber Tea Sandwiches:

Ingredients:

  • White bread (nothing too firm or fancy)
  • 1 cucumber (skinned with a vegetable peeler)
  • soft cream cheese
  • Berries for garnish and dessert

Thinly slice cucumber into pretty, almost translucent rounds.

Step 1: Assemble Ingredients

Step 1: Assemble Ingredients

Trim crust from the white bread.  Cut into cute, 2-bites sizes.  Lather cream cheese in a light creamy layer on each side of the lttle sandwiches.

Step 2.

Step 2.

Arrange on a cute plate and serve with flair! If you have iced tea or champagne in the fridge, go for it!

Ready! Prep time: 5 minutes.

Ready! Prep time: 5 minutes.

NOTE: If you’re making these more for a grown up crowd, I’ve started garnishing salads and sandwiches with Microgreens.  They apparently are wonderful for your health but I love the peppery crunch they add, especially to my little cucumber tea sandwiches today.

Microgreens of arugula

Microgreens of arugula

Happy Eating!