Vitalagna- gluten free, summer green, lasagna!

I mentioned to some of you that I will be doing a mushroom lasagna today, following another of Alice Heart’s delicious vegetarian recipes (last Monday’s pizza was beyond delicious), but it turns out that mushrooms are not season in the Ticino region. So I browsed around the markets and found some very special summer ingredients you can hardly find in London, especially if you try looking for them in the mainstream supermarkets (sorry guys).

In my opinion, your culinary experience is incomplete without taking your time to explore and choose your perfect ingredients! The beauty of market food shopping is that you go there with an idea in mind and you come back with something completely different, and ultimately tasty…

Probably now you can guess why I am not really fond of London’s super market chains- they simply love selling us dead food; fruit and vegetables encapsulated in plastic, pre-washed lettuce as people these days are too lazy to wash their own salad… not to mention the ready-made microwave meals, and the 6pm post-work zombie qeues adorned with baskets full of this plastic, pop-art food…

Cooking is a journey of love and joy that starts way before entering the kitchen and finishes way after the meal is dressed to be served. My journey started at the moment I landed at Agno airport and filled my pipes with summer mountain air…it finished an hour after lunch time, on the terrace with the view of lake Lugano.

And without further ado, the star of the day- my recipe for baby zucchini, zucchini flower and basil gluten free lasagna!

For 4 servings you will need:

Vegetables:

  • Baby zucchini
  • Zucchini flowers
  • Basil leaves
  • Couple of cloves of garlic

Bechamel sauce:

  • 500 ml whole milk
  • 25 g gluten free flour
  • 25g butter
  • ¼ onion
  • cloves
  • nutmeg
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

Lasagna:

  • Gluten free lasagna pasta sheets available from specialist shops (i.e. Whole foods)
  • Organic parmesan cheese for grating
  • 1 buffalo mozzarella
  • Olive oil for seasoning

Method:

  • Veg prep:
    • Pre-heat the oven to 180 C
    • Cut the baby zucchini in halves, line them up in a tray, season with salt pepper and olive oil, sprinkle around the cloves of garlic and bake for 12 min
    • Season zucchini flowers with salt
    • Pick basil leaves and keep ready in a separate dish
  • Bechamel:
    • Stud the onion with 3-4 cloves add in a sauce pan together with the milk. Bring to the boil, cover with foil and allow let it sit on the side
       
    • Prepare roux (equal quantities of flour and butter). Measure out the butter and flour and make sure you have 25 g of each. Mix together on low heat, using a wooden spoon until texture becomes sandy. Pop in fridge until it cools off completely.
    • Once roux is cold, slightly start pouring the onion and clove infused milk and bring the mixture to medium-high temperature, continuously mixing it with a wooden spoon. Reduce to low temperature as soon as texture thickens and repeat process until all of the milk is added to the roux, and the result is a thick and smooth consistency.
    • Grate parmesan cheese into the béchamel and mix with a spoon. Check for taste
    • Season with salt, pepper and great some nutmeg for taste. Place cling film, inside the pan, on top of the béchamel to avoid skim from forming
  • Finishing the lasagna
    • Boil sheets of gluten free lasagna in salted water as long as indicated on the packet. Drain and refresh with cold water immediately to avoid sticking.
    • Remove zucchini and garlic from the oven
    • Remove shell from garlic and with a spoon make a paste from the garlic cloves. Dip the zucchini flours in the garlic paste
    • Start forming the lasagna- butter a dish and put an initial layer of pasta sheets to cover the bottom. Sprinkle with buffalo mozzarella. Line zucchini, zuchhini flowers and basil evenly across the space. Using a tablespoon add enough béchamel to cover the space. Repeat the process two more times and grate an abundant amount of parmesan cheese at the top. Add a basil leaf for decoration.

       
    • Pop in the oven and bake for 20 min at 210 C
  • Presentation
    • Decorate the plate with a zucchini flower and a baby zucchini on the side. Pick a lovely tip of basil from the stem. Place a square piece of lasagna and add the basil on top


Bon Appetit!

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