Monday, May 5, 2014



Lasagna Bianca
A Recipe by Chef Vincenzo of "Vincenzo's Plate" on YouTube
Follow on Twitter at:  @vincenzosplate


When I first saw this episode shortly before Easter this year, I Knew I had to make this for my mom for Easter.  Lasagna Bianca is also known as the Italian Easter Lasagna.  This is a crowd pleasing dish that is easy, healthy (for the most part) and has a warm and extremely comforting flavor.  I have to admit, this was only the second lasagna I had ever made, and I was so happy with it, froze a bunch of it and had it for lunches at work for a week afterwards.  I loved it each and every time, as if I were tasting it for the first time.  How many dishes can we say we actually enjoy that much?   Chef Vincenzo has a YouTube video series called "Vincenzo's Plate", which I subscribe to and am a die-hard fan of.  He is funny, knowledgeable and shows you and tells you all you need to know.  Well, about all; more on that later in the recipe.  (Insert a smile). 

Let's get to it, shall we?  I know you are going to be suffering to finish reading this so you can get to the grocery store to get the ingredients to make this wonderful meal tonight!

Ingredients:
No-bake lasagna noodles, one box
1 pound ground beef
2 cups provolone, cubed
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 head broccoli florets, lightly steamed or boiled
2 zucchini, cleaned, seeded and cubed
6-8 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade
Mixed fresh herbs, finely chopped:  oregano, Italian flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper (white pepper is best)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (I think that was what I added, myself)
1/2 stick butter, cubed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano
 *2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated (I added these, myself, for sure)

 

In a steamer or large pot of salted water, gently steam or boil the broccoli florets and zucchini.  5 to 8 minutes.  Remove, strain and set aside.  




In a large sauce pan, add the extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat.  When the oil begins to ripple, add the pound of ground beef.  Caramelize the meat, and, about half way through, add the onion and garlic.  Add salt to sweat the onions and pepper, and saute for three or four minutes.  Add the seasoning and saute three to four minutes more.  Afterward, add the broccoli and zucchini and saute to five to eight minutes over medium-high heat, until the veggies are nearly softened.  Mash the veggies with a fork or a potato masher and incorporate even more with the beef.  Remove from the heat. 




Cube the provolone, cube the butter and grate the parmigiano-reggiano.  Set up an assembly station to assemble the lasagna.    



Now, part of this dish's amazing flavor base is the bechamel sauce. While there was a video about it, I did not quite catch how to make it.  So, here is the bechamel sauce that I used for this dish.  *Sorry, Chef Vincenzo, if this is not exactly the sauce you had in mind!

Over medium-high heat, melt a stick of butter.  You will also need the following:
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 quart room temperature whole milk
Pinch of nutmeg, if you wish
pinch of sea salt and white pepper
1 cup cubed provolone cheese

 Add the flour, little-by-little and stir in until the raw flour flavor cooks out.  Add the milk, also little-by-little, and continue stirring vigorously until the sauce begins to thicken.  Add a good pinch of salt and pepper and begin adding the cubed provolone.  Continue mixing and stirring thoroughly until the cheese has melted and the sauce thickens.  Remove and set aside.  

Either rub butter around the entirety of the pan you will cook the lasagna in or spray it with non-stick cooking spray.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.   

Add some of the behamel sauce to the bottom of the pan, followed by a thin layer of the beef-broccoli-zucchini mixture.  Add some of the bechamel atop the beef mixture, followed by the dry ready-bake lasagna noodles.  Add another layer of beefy mixture, bechamel, a good sprinkle of the parmigiano-reggiano and some of the cubed provolone and some of the fresh herbs.  Repeat the layers until you have reached the end of the beefy mixture and bechamel.  Place the cubed butter atop the Lasagna Bianca with the rest of cubed provolone, parmesan and a sprinkling of the fresh herbs.

Should eventually look something like this....

 
Place the pan in the oven, which should be preheated to 350-degrees, covered loosely with foil.  Bake for 20 - 30 minutes covered, another 20 uncovered.  By the end of the 50 minutes, the edges should be golden brown and crusty.  Your nose will tell you when this is done! 


 After the fifty minutes, remove, allow to set, and serve!  I did not feel the need to serve with salad since it is already inside!  You serve it with whatever you wish, but trust me, this will make you extremely happy.  Enjoy and Thank You, Chef Vincenzo!